The crisp cold weather and Santa hats fit the Christmas spirit that was in the air as the people of Richmond County came out to enjoy the Hamlet Christmas Parade on Thursday afternoon.
Sirens from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office started the parade off and got the crowd excited. The sounds of drums and cadences from the Richmond Senior High School’s marching band and R.O.T.C. echoed off the buildings of downtown Hamlet.
Nina Winstead, of Hamlet, has been going to the parade for 39 years. “My favorite part is the R.O.T.C. because my son is in the military,” Winstead said.
Children from Physical Awareness and Gymnastics twisted and flipped through the streets showing off their gymnastic skills.
Nancy Averitte, the grand marshal of this year’s parade, and Gene McLaurin, Rockingham mayor and newly-elected state senator, waved to parade goers. Bright and colorful parade floats held people who were singing, dancing, clapping and wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas!”
The Richmond County Rescue Squad blasted “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” by Alvin and the Chipmunks from the loud speakers on an ambulance. There was also fire from the RE/MAX float which had a hot air balloon basket, complete with burners, attached to the back of a truck.
Children and adults alike made a mad grab for candy thrown from parade floats as everyone eagerly awaited Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to make an appearance.
The floats met up at the fairground in Hamlet, while cars and people on foot met up at the Depot. The parade travelled up Main Street, onto Rice Street, then Charlotte Street, Raleigh Street and back to the fairground.
People of all ages showed up to enjoy different parts of the parade.
Carolyn Williamson and Jeanne Short of Hamlet have both been going for 50 years. “We marched in the parade when we went to Hamlet High School, Class of 1961,” said Williamson. “My favorite part is Santa Claus.”
Short said her favorite part is the Richmond Senior High School band.
Cascades Tissue Group threw rolls of toilet paper and paper towels while the WLWL radio station tossed candy to the eager crowd.
The Marine Corps. Reserve marched to bring awareness to Toys for Tots, an organization which collects toys for children in need, while the Richmond County Humane Society’s entry brought awareness to furry friends.
The sound of sirens and horns filled the streets from fire trucks, ambulances and police cars, tiny Shriners’ cars zoomed in circles in front of spectators, cheerleaders from different schools in the area chanted and cheered as they rode down the parade route. Children enjoyed cotton candy, candied apples and various toys that were being sold from vending carts, as well as the mounds of candy being thrown from parade floats.
It seemed everyone, adults and children alike, were getting into the Christmas spirit and enjoying the festive afternoon.
Hamlet’s Christmas celebration continues
“Hamlet’s 5th Annual Old Fashioned Christmas” begins today, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., on Hamlet Avenue.
Santa himself will be there on his 1953 Farmall tractor. Free horse and buggy rides will be available. Folks can tour the National RR Museum and Hall of Fame.
Entertainment will include: DJ Jimmy Reese, The Butterflies Praise Team, Beth McDonald, Vicky Daniels, Charles Ellerbe, and Bob Dotson on guitar.
The evening includes a live nativity scene at First Baptist Church on Hamlet Avenue. Many businesses will be open and serving refreshments, hot chocolate, cookies and candy. At Hamlet City Lake there will be a parade of boats.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Main Street will come alive in the spirit of the holiday season. Folks can ride the “Duck Express” train to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will be free horse and buggy rides, and tours of the Railroad Museum & Annex. Come out and see the famous train depot decked out in “Victorian Christmas splendor.”
Performing at the Depot: Backlash Bluegrass, St. Mary’s Gospel Choir, Sue Jarvis, Brass Quintet, Links Barbershop Quartet, Danny Infantino and Seren Lyerly.
You might get lucky if you spot Santa downtown Hamlet, because you could win $500. Santa will be hidden around downtown, in shops and in the museums. From Dec. 10-12 you can look for Santa, and when you find him you’ll get a ticket. Turn three tickets in at the Hamlet Visitors Center to be entered in a drawing for $500 cash. Clues will be posted daily on the Hamlet Depot & Museum’s Facebook page and tweeted @Hamlet_Depot. Clues will also be posted daily on the Cafe on Main Facebook page. The drawing will take place on Dec. 15 and the winner will be announced that day.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.