The City of Hamlet puts on one of the best Christmas events in the county every year, and 2012 will be no exception.
It began on Monday with the traditional lighting of the city’s Christmas tree, and continues next week with the annual Christmas Parade on Dec. 6, and then “Hamlet’s 5th Annual Old Fashioned Christmas” on Dec. 7 and 8.
Every year the Hamlet Rotary Club chooses the grand marshal for the Christmas Parade. After several names are nominated, the club members vote and pick one person to honor in the annual festive procession.
Selected to be the grand marshal of this year’s parade is Nancy Averitte. Club members are quick to point out that everyone should know Nancy, as she’s been an active member of Hamlet and a devoted community supporter for the past 50 years.
“Nancy Averitte is no stranger to most residents in our beloved small town of Hamlet,” said Tommy Halyburton, president of the Hamlet Rotary Club.
He described Nancy as: “real vivacious,” an extrovert, and very outgoing.
“Nancy is a great choice,” Halyburton said.
Nancy was born and raised in Rockingham, graduating from Rockingham High School in 1958. She settled into her new life in Hamlet upon marrying her late husband, Bill Averitte, in 1959. The couple had two daughters, Angie Averitte and Amy Quick, both of whom reside in the Hamlet area. The eldest, Angie, is the Terminal Supervisor at CSX railroad and Amy is the owner of Dance Sensations and Gymnastics in Rockingham.
Most folks know Nancy from the Seaboard Station Restaurant, where she has worked for the last 22 years. The restaurant opens for lunch every day but Saturday.
Nancy said she found out she’d been chosen from Halyburton when he came into the Seaboard Station one day.
“Tommy came by the restaurant … and told me, ‘We want you to be grand marshal of the parade.’ I figured he was joking, so I told him, ‘I hate it but I have to work that day.’ Then he said he was serious …,” said Nancy, with a laugh.
“I feel like it’s a really big honor and I appreciate it. There are many people more deserving me,” she told the Daily Journal.
Nancy said she’s a fan of royalty and she has been practicing her parade wave. “I’ve got my wave down pat,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to enjoy it.”
Nancy is active in various community events and has been involved with several organizations throughout the years including the Seaboard Festival Committee, American Legion Auxiliary, VFW Auxiliary, Hamlet Lions Club, Johnny Green Festival Revue, Hamlet Opera House Restoration Committee and the Senior Games of Richmond County (Silver Arts).
Asked why she’s driven to volunteer, she said, “I feel, anything you can do for your town you should.”
The Hamlet Christmas Parade begins at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6, but it wouldn’t hurt to get there at 3 or earlier.
The floats will meet up at the fairground in Hamlet, and walkers and cars will meet up at the Depot. The procession will travel up Main Street, onto Rice Street, then Charlotte Street back to Raleigh Street and back to the fairground.
“We hope to have a great day with great weather, so please come out and see the parade,” encouraged Halyburton.
He said the Rotary has put on the annual yuletide parade for more than 30 years. Included in the procession are many professional floats, sponsored by area businesses.
“We try to get as many of the cheerleaders from the various schools to participate, too,” he said. Rounding out the parade are many emergency response vehicles, antique and classic cars, and area dignitaries including mayors from around the county.
The most popular float never fails to be the Santa float, sponsored by Sandhills Regional Medical Center — and that’s where the candy is, always a favorite part of any parade for youngsters.
Parade entry forms may be picked up from BB&T in Hamlet, Hamlet City Hall and the Hamlet Visitor’s Center. All entry forms will be due by Dec. 1. Contact Reba Dille, parade chairman, at 910-582-6795 for more information.
Celebrate an old Fashioned Christmas
“Hamlet’s 5th Annual Old Fashioned Christmas” begins on Friday. Dec. 7, 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.
For more information, visit www.ncvisitorcenter.com.
— Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 13, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.