For the second year the LaurelFest committee’s Christmas celebration drew more than 100 to downtown Laurel Hill for a community celebration of the holiday.
This year’s edition of the event that organizers hope will become a local tradition involved an expanded festive lighting project which has drawn rave reviews from residents.
“The feedback to the lights we have put up downtown has been great,” said LaurelFest chairperson Connie Coleman.
The LaurelFest committee participated in installing lamppost Christmas lights as well as decorations and lights on trees lining Laurel Hill’s downtown over the past month.
On the night of the celebration local children were invited to hang ornaments on a Christmas tree located directly across the street from the town’s post office. Hot chocolate and cookies were also served. Sandy Callahan of WLNC radio served as master of ceremonies.
The celebration began with a prayer by Laurel Hill Baptist Church Pastor Don Malpass.
Malpass called the event a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and Coleman agreed.
“It really is a great way to celebrate God’s gift of Jesus,” Coleman said.
Led by Laurel Hill’s Billy Ray Norris, the group took part in a Christmas carol singing session guided by Fletchers Chapel Wesleyan Church’s choir.
Originally scheduled for last week, the event had to be moved to this week because of rainy weather. In spite of the change, Coleman said that she was still pleased with the turnout.
“There were some church groups that could not reschedule, but considering that it really was a good (turnout).”
An offshoot of the LaurelFest project, the Christmas celebration is part of the project’s effort to improve the small town’s family-oriented entertainment and cultural options.
“This has been ten years since we started and we are looking forward to next year already,” said Charlie Fipps, one of the driving forces behind LaurelFest’s inception.
“We have to thank the community members and especially the volunteers like (Coleman) for their efforts and for the many hours they have worked, tirelessly putting this all together,” Fipps said.
“It is wonderful that we can all gather here to share that warm feeling you get around Christmas – and I’m not afraid to call it Christmas, are you?” Fipps said to the cheers of the crowd in the parking lot, lit largely by the holiday lights.
The growth of the Christmas decorating initiative from 2011 to 2012 will become a pattern, Coleman said, if volunteers and donors agree to continue helping the LaurelFest organization.
“We need volunteers and whatever donations we receive go directly into the production,” Coleman said. “We hope each year to add more.”