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Fond memories of Christmas traditions

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year! As a young boy, not only did I get excited about Christmas Eve but other times of the Christmas season. It seemed to get started with the Christmas parade and the lighting of Main Street. There were lights hanging across Main Street that were multi-colored and hung up so neatly as you passed by. At one end of Main Street was a big Christmas tree that was lit with red, blue and white bulbs that were as big as your hand (or so it seemed to a small boy). Every year my Dad took our family to ride down Main Street so that we could see the lights and he seemed excited and told us stories of Christmas years ago. I heard the same stories each year but remember, a story worth telling twice is worth listening to.

The Christmas Parade down Main Street was a big event in Washington! Children and parents lined the side of the street to get a view of Santa Claus riding atop the fire truck and throwing out pieces of candy. The floats preceded Santa and they represented every organization in our community and most churches. They were filled with children dressed in Christmas garments and they too were throwing candy to the crowd. The big thing for me was Mr. Larkin’s Pam Pack Marching Band playing Christmas music as they marched down Main Street and bands from all over came to participate in Washington’s parade. I would ride my bike to get a good place on the corner of Market and Main streets and watched these bands as they seemed to compete with one another as to who had the best band. Hands down to me it was The Pam Pack Marching Band in their blue and white uniforms led by Mr. Larkin in his Drum Major’s uniform.

The stores were all decked out for Christmas. They all took the time to get ready for the parade and hopefully a good time of shopping for those that attended the parade. Even the Dime Stores were decorated and Mr. Houston had Belk Tyler’s always decorated to the nine. Kugler-Nicholson was my hang out during the holidays and I would give Mr. Doc an idea of what I wanted for Christmas and it seemed that he had a one way communication with Santa Claus. (Daddy Ray and Mr. Doc were good friends I later found out).

People would be at the parade with big smiles and holding their children with their hand or watching their child on a float. Never did see a person without a smile regardless of the economic climate. Everyone was happy that afternoon and was looking forward to the big day. At our home we had plenty of nuts, hard candy and tangerines. Dad always saw to that and the smell of tangerines would fill the inside of our home. Mom made fudge, cakes and buck eyes to go along with the hard candy Dad had bought from Big Walter’s store. There was always plenty to eat during this season and if you did not like collards and potatoes, you missed the best foods on the table. People were just happy during this season, seeing others being happy.

Yes, the parade and the lighting of downtown kind of sparked the season off. As a young boy, out of school for two weeks, and who could not wait for the “Big Night,” it was so much fun seeing everyone so happy even if Christmas Eve seemed like the longest night of the year.

This has been a tough year for many but let us look forward to 2021 so that we can wish a goodbye to this pandemic and any other problems we are facing. Tracey and I hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas and the safest of New Years.It is my hope that you all have a plate full of collards for Christmas dinner. Thank you for the many compliments over the years!

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The Original Washington!

— Harold Jr.