Downtown’s hometown holiday

Published 8:37 pm Monday, November 19, 2012


Downtown is getting hometown for the holidays.

Saturday, Dec. 1, downtown Washington celebrates “Hometown Holiday,” a line up of both traditional and new, light-hearted events to drum up the Christmas spirit and holiday shopping downtown.

Starting at 11 a.m., local revelers — floats, high- school bands, antique cars and dance troupes — will progress down Main and Market streets for the annual Christmas parade.

“It’s the same parade route we’ve used for years and years,” said Bobby Roberson, one of the organizers for the City of Washington– and Kiwanis Club–sponsored parade. “We always have a great turnout. The thing about it is, for everyone, it’s just a lot of fun.”

The fun won’t stop there, according to Beth Byrd, director of Washington Harbor District Alliance. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Santa Claus will be making a guest appearance at Coldwell Banker Coastal Rivers Realty on Main Street, where cookies, cocoa and a photo with Santa will cost $10. Proceeds will support the First United Methodist Circle of Grace’s outreach projects.

The Holiday Arts and Crafts Show, a long-standing Beaufort County Arts Council tradition held at the Washington Civic Center, will open its doors at noon and will run until 7 p.m.

“It’s a packed house this year,” said Joey Toler, executive director of the arts council, regarding the number of vendors slated for the event. “We have a lot of familiar faces and lots of new vendors, as well.”

Toler said this year’s show will veer a little bit away from crafts as more fine artists and those selling specialty items (like cheesecakes) have signed up. But what unites every artisan and craftsman there is homemade, handcrafted goods, Toler said. The BCAC event has a $2 suggested donation.

On the opposite end of the Washington waterfront, a horse-drawn carriage will leave from Festival Park for tours of the Historic District from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. The approximately 40-minute rides by Country Cruising Carriage Service will cost $10 per person. Throughout Washington, historic homes will be open to the public for the annual Holiday Homes Tour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Injecting a little fun into Washington’s Christmas season kickoff, is the Twelve Days of Christmas Scavenger Hunt — a chance to win prizes by finding all 12 of the gifts from the song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” scattered throughout store display windows on Water, Main and Market streets. Byrd said every scavenger hunt scorecard turned in earns a chance to win prizes donated from downtown merchants — including a 22-carat Prehnite ring from Stewart’s Jewelry Store, a child’s wooden rocking chair from Big Bargain Furniture, a $100 gift certificate from Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, among other donated prizes from Little Shoppes of Washington, Charisma, South Market Antiques, the General’s Store, On the Waterfront, the Bank Bistro and Bar, Zaitona Restaurant, Oasis Salon and The Blue Door Café. Cards can be found at downtown merchants.

While noticeably absent is the Christmas flotilla, the parade of lighted boats that brought big crowds down to the Washington waterfront, Byrd said the weather in recent years had proven too unpredictable.

“For the last few years, we’ve been snowed on, had wind, rain,” Byrd said, adding that the WHDA and the Power Squadron intend to make the flotilla part of Washington’s Fourth of July celebration.

“Basically, we’re trying to switch the flotilla from a cold, wintertime event to a nice, warm, patriotic Fourth of July event,” Byrd said.