LAURINBURG — Customers admired the crafts of local artists, dancers clogged to familiar Christmas tunes on Main Street and clutters of people armed with gloves and scarves braved the bitter cold.
They were celebrating the annual Christmas on Main, the town’s kickoff event for the holiday season, hosted Sunday by the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation.
Millie English of Gibson stood with the crowd clapping along to the music in a dance performance on the street. She said that it had been several years since she’d last been to the Christmas on Main event but was enjoying her second visit. This year English’s granddaughter was performing with the Triple Toe Cloggers and she was happy to see her perform.
“It’s better. It’s a lot of fun. It’s cold,” she said.
Throughout the event a colorful mini train, Duck Express, departed from its station at the end of the street and chugged its way downtown as its passengers waved at the crowds they passed by.
Large crowds drew to the center of the street where performances took place. Christmas music could be heard amongst the chattering of people making their way up the street and baked goods, hot chocolate, barbecue, hot dogs and other refreshments were served to help fill and warm up everyone that came out to the event.
Children could be seen holding the hand of their parent, their face marked with a Christmas tree or reindeer after a brief stop at the Gat Faces face-painting booth.
The Scotland High School marching band’s color/winter guard performed a few dance numbers together in their Christmas-themed outfits. Their booth was set up with baked goods and drinks for sale and they accepted donations for travel to future competitions.
As people made their way inside the Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast they were greeted by an assortment of colors from crafts like scarves and handbags to pottery, fused glass, watercolor and oil paintings and jewelery.
Andy Kurtzman, craftsman of Gemscapes, has been wirewrapping gem trees and jewelry since about 1996. He remembered seeing a lady making the tiny trinkets in Raleigh at the Tar Heel Gem and Mineral Club several years ago and was inspired to create them himself.
Kurtzman said “everyone makes them differently.” He started making trees, then began wrapping stones and eventually moved on to earrings and rings.
As Kurtzman was working on a pair of earrings made of amethyst a child admiring the jewelry on Kurtzman’s table asked what he was doing.
“I am making some earrings,” Kurtzman said. “I make trees, rings and wrapping stones.”
Three published authors, Shirley Jones, Bette Burgess and Sylvia Whitmore, had tables set up inside the arts center as well to sell and sign their books to the public.
Jones, is a Laurinburg resident and the author of “Journey Home,” a series of poems that reflect her life on a farm in the 1950 and 1960s. The book was dedicated to “the three Betty’s” in her life:
Betty Daniel, Jones’ sister; Burgess, a fellow writer who encouraged Jones to publish her book and was also sitting at the table beside her at the arts center; and Betty Briggs Schledorn, Jones’ roommate in college.
“It’s unusual to have three important people in your life that have same first name,” Jones said.
Sabrina Malloy, office manager at the arts center, said that it was “a great idea to bring in different artists.”
“We have hidden talent in Laurinburg that people don’t even know about,” Malloy said.
Right outside the arts center the Krazy Feet Cloggers braved the bitter cold that nipped at their bare legs and still smiled and danced without flinching in front of the crowd that began to circle around them in the middle of the street.
After their performance the Eastern Sonrise Quartet began to sing another Christmas jingle as the crowds dispersed and continued on their way down the street.
The Scotland Health Care System, Girl Scouts of Richmond and Scotland Counties and the Scotland County Animal Advocates had informational booths set up to bring more awareness of their organizations to the public.
Everyone had an opportunity to take photos with Santa and the kids played in a bounce house.
A bundled up Helen Streeter of Helen Streeter’s Crafts’ sat at her booth on Main Street with many Christmas-colored bows and reefs decorating the front of her table.
She started her business about three months ago and said that after seeing how expensive seasonal decorations were at florist shops she decided to make her own and sell them at a more affordable price.
“We really need to keep our money here,” Streeter said, referring to shopping locally.
Across the street from Helen Streeter’s Crafts was Ms. D’s Homemade Candy, of Pembroke, established about 30 years ago.
Owner, Audra Chavis, weathered the cold by wrapping herself up in a blanket as customers came over and admired a few of the mouthwatering sweets that were displayed on the table in front of her. The table was filled with peanut clusters, coconut mounds, chocolate covered pretzels, pecan snaps and haystacks.
Chavis said that it was better to “support your own town” when it came to shopping locally.
Deloris Chavis, the maker of the candies, said her treats are “just as good or better” as what can be found in a big-box store.