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Spirit of Christmas 2020
Additions, subtractions, and a lot more light
December 15, 2020

C
ovid has had an impact on nearly every event this year, including the Spirit of Christmas. But residents were determined to keep as much of the event – and holiday spirit it celebrates – as they could.

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Santa sightings were frequent.

While some parts were cancelled (the parade), new events were created to help fill the void (the Light Up Oriental contest).

Marsha Paplham is in charge of the Spirit of Christmas. She relies on help from the community to keep it going. This year Bonnie Crosser, of the Parks and Recreations Department, and Xan Wise of Wise Tree Service helped to bring lights down to Lou Mac Park. Bonnie got them onto the pier and Wise Tree Service donated their time to wrap lights around the large oak in Lou Mac Park.

large oak tree in riverside park wrapped in lights
The large oak tree in Lou Mac Park got the light treatment.

Rachel Tipton of Harbourside Gardens donated the tree for the Tree of Names and Lights. The Coast Guard provided the vessel for Santa to ride, while cruising Oriental’s streets. Southeast Pamlico Volunteer Fire Department and the Oriental Police provided the escort.

The Tryon Palace Fife & Drum Corps arrived to play traditional carols as they marched down Broad Street to the harbor.

(Listen to the Tryon Fife and Drum Corps play in Oriental:)

Grace Evans made sure each name she received went on an ornament, and then onto the Tree of Names and Lights. Town Commissioners did their part by judging the light displays of Oriental’s residents and businesses.

“There were several individuals”, said Marsha, “who did a tremendous job with the luminaries – you know who you are.” There were nearly three thousand luminaries this year.

Marsha also remarked, while handing out prizes for the Light Up Oriental contest, that she had “not seen the town lit up like this in years.” She declared the lighting contest would now be an annual event. While some Spirit of Christmas traditions are on a brief hold, others are just beginning.

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The Tree of Names and Lights ceremony in Lou Mac Park kicked off Spirit of Christmas.
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Santa and a young customer chat about Christmas Morning expectations.
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Business owners and workers, in the spirit.
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Seen on a golf cart, outside the Tiki Bar.
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In the past, luminaria were lit with candles. This year, the Spirit of Christmas team tried something different: LED lights.
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Covid restrictions prevented a parade, but it didn’t stop Santa.
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Orion Arnhols, with grandfather Mike Arnhols and mother Felicia Booth, checks out his candy from Santa.
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Commissioner Alan Price has a hat for every occasion.
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The kayak-canoe-paddle board flotilla enters Oriental Harbor at dusk.
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Members of the engineless flotilla.
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Heather Brewer reprises her role as Mrs. Claus.
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Directly after the flotilla is the lighting of the star.
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After the star is lit, those without an engine head back to the Wildlife Ramp.
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Boats from the New Bern Yacht Club light up Oriental Marina.
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COVID-19 cancelled Tryon Palace’s events, so the Tryon Palace Fife & Drum Corps came to play for Oriental.
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A young music fan listens from the Oriental Marina and Inn.
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Oriental United Methodist Children’s Church put on a live Nativity outside.
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The Children’s Church brings out members of the Nativity scene, to stand in front of the church until Christmas.
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The angel gives a warning to Joseph.
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A BBQ at New Village Brewery benefitted Sound Rivers and their mission to maintain the health of river in eastern North Carolina.
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Sound Rivers recognized Grace Evans’ long term commitment to protecting the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico Rivers with their Great Blue Heron Award. Grace was one of the founding members of the organization that became Sound Rivers, and hired one of the first riverkeepers in the US.
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Grace Evans and her Great Blue Heron.
Related Links
The 2020 Spirit of Christmas Schedule
Light Up Oriental – Christmas Light Decorating Contest

Posted Tuesday December 15, 2020 by Allison DeWeese


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