A biting cold met the folks who came out to the Ellerbe Hometown Christmas on Thursday night.
Several vendors and stores handed out hot apple cider and hot chocolate, as well as other seasonal goodies like chocolate covered pretzel sticks and cookies. The Rankin Museum greeted visitors with warm smiles and children could decorate bags at a crafts table, or dig for fossils.
The Ellerbe Fire Department hosted Santa’s Workshop again this year; a favorite for children who want their picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Children lined up for crafts, and to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.
On a stage beside the fire department, local storyteller J.A. Bolton drew an audience in with original and retold stories for all ages. Following his act, Nutrition Agent for the Cooperative Extension Sarah Mammarella sang Christmas songs.
“It seemed that there were definitely less people than last year, at least in the area where the stage was,” said Mammarella. “It was also very difficult to sing because my music was not able to be hooked up to the main speakers, so it made it hard to hear the music for me and the audience. However, I still love to do it. It puts me in the Christmas spirit.”
Donnie Richardson of Ellerbe hooked his tractor up for a hayride around town, which was free for anyone who wanted to come along. Richardson encouraged the singing of carols, and children lead the songs.
“This year we didn’t have the attendance we normally do,” said Richardson. “It could have been the Hamlet Parade being in the same day. Last year we had better participation from people. To start with, at 5 p.m., there was no one in town to go on the hayride. Next year, hopefully we can coordinate more with Hamlet so not everything is on the same day. After a while the hayride stayed busy but I would say it was not even half the crowd it normally is. The town was cleared out by 7:30 p.m.”
Richardson has brought his tractor and hay wagon to the Ellerbe Hometown Christmas for the last four years. His friend Elijah Covington rides on the back and makes sure children don’t fall out or get rowdy.
“I don’t ever bill the town (for the gas),” said Richardson. “But the town rents a tuxedo for my safety man. His main function is to see that people get on and off safely. He can stop the ride at anytime, but we’ve never had to do that.”
Former Ellerbe Mayor and member of the Hometown Christmas Committee Olivia Webb said she was pleased with the event.
“I thought we had a nice variety of activities and entertainment, and enthusiastic participation from the local merchants,” said Webb. “Volunteers worked very hard to put that event together and we hope it got people in the spirit, Ellerbe-style.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.