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The 2023 Spirit of Christmas is Coming
How you can help out or join in
November 27, 2023

ights, songs, a parade or two, and the lighting of the star at Oriental’s harbor.

It’s all part of pageantry of The Spirit of Christmas. This year, it begins Thursday evening, December 7 and runs through Saturday, December 9.

If you would like your Spirit of Christmas business event listed in the Spirit of Christmas Guide, contact Marsha Paplham of Marsha’s Cottage at 252-249-0334 by November 30.

Jim Kellenberger and his tractor (and kilt) at the 2022 Spirit of Christmas Parade.

It only happens if you’re there. Residents, businesses, and volunteers make the event happen – by entering the parades, joining the kayak flotilla, decorating homes and businesses, setting out luminaria, or lending their skills and time.

To join an event, or volunteer to help out, these are events – and people – to know:

A Hodges Street home during the 2022 Light Up Oriental contest.
Light Up Oriental Decorating Contest
Headed by Tourism Board Chair Marsha Paplham of Marsha’s Cottage.

It’s your chance to get out your decorations, garlands, and lights to make your home or business stand out. Judging runs Monday, Dec 4 – Wednesday, Dec 6. Winners announced Thursday, Dec 7 at the lighting of the Tree of Names and Lights.

Residential categories are:
  • Most Traditional
  • Most Whimsical
  • Most Nautical
  • Most Lights

Businesses compete for the Most Decorated Business.

Santa gets the Coast Guard escort at the Spirit of Christmas parade.
The Spirit of Christmas Parade
December 9 at 1p. Walk, ride, dance, or drive down Broad Street in the Christmas Parade.

Reach out to Paul Fairbank at Village Hardware for more information, or sign up here.

Luminaries line the Labyrinth and the street during the 2021 Spirit of Christmas.
Luminaries lining the Streets of Oriental
Those bagged lights that burn throughout Spirit of Christmas. This year Michelle Brooks heads up deployment.

Michelle is asking for donations to help purchase white bags, candles & glass votives, and cellophane bags & sand. Donations can be made by cash, check made out to The Spirit of Christmas – with “Luminary” in the memo, or by Venmo.

Volunteers are needed for all phases of luminary creation, deployment, and retrieval, including block captains for deployment, trucks and trailers, and clean 5 gal buckets for sand collection. The full Luminaria schedule with info is here.

You don’t have to volunteer for each event. Find the one that works for you and let Michelle know you’ll be there by emailing her at mudpot69@gmail.com.

• Bag folding: 12/5, Toucan Grill, 4:30-6:30p
• Sand pick-up: 12/6, 400 Ragan Rd, 1-3p
• Bag filling & candle pre-lighting: 12/7, Station 19 Fire House, 12:30p – 3p
• Bag assembly: 12/8, Station 19 Fire House, 9a – noon
• Luminary deployment: 12/8, Start at Station 19 Fire House, 1 – 4p
• Luminary lighting: 12/8, 5-7p
• Candle replacement & lighting: 12/9, 5-7p
• Luminary collection: 12/10, Station 19 Fire House, 1-3p

Elf with deer on water – Christa Kreutz at the 2022 Engineless Flotilla.
Kayak & Paddle Board Flotilla in the Harbor
Decorate yourself and your engineless vessel and join the lighted flotilla as they paddle into Oriental’s harbor at 5p, Dec 8.

Contact Larry Summers at 252-675-0467 to let him know you’ll be there. Gather at the Wildlife Dock at the end of Midyette Street at 4:45p to prep for launch. Find out more here.

Meta Jones reads the history of the Tree of Names and Lights before lighting the tree (2022).
Tree of Names and Lights
An Oriental tradition, the Tree of Names and Lights honors loved ones (people and pets) that are with us and those that have passed. For a $5 donation, one candle ornament with the name of your loved one is hand made and placed on the Tree of Names and Lights in Lou Mac Park.

A red bow on the candle means ‘In Honor of’, a green bow is ‘In Memory of’. Proceeds go to a different charity every year – this year it’s the Oriental History Museum. Click here to find out where to send your donation.

A laughing Mary at the Live Nativity in 2022. Moments before, she suffered a head scarf malfunction.
Live Nativity
The Children’s Theater Workshop puts together the Live Nativity and they’re always looking for participants. Know a child that would make a good shepherd, sheep, or wise man? Email theater director Yolanda Cristiani at 1996ctw@gmail.com Click here for full info.

• Sat 12/2: Casting Call and Rehearsal 1p-2p
• Tues 12/5: Rehearsal 4:30-5:30p
• Thurs 12/7: Rehearsal 4:30-5:30p
• Friday 12/8: Dress Rehearsal 4:15-5:15p
• Saturday 12/9: Arrive at 2:45p on Saturday for the 3:30p performance.

The Live Nativity performance will be at 3:30p Saturday December 9 at OUMC.

Two very intense angels keep an eye on Mary and Joseph at the 2022 Live Nativity.

A detailed schedule of events will be out about a week before Spirit of Christmas begins. The general schedule (some events are still begin confirmed) is here:

Wednesday, December 6:
• Last day of Judging for the Light Up Oriental decorating contest.

Thursday, December 7:
• Lighting of the Tree of Names and Lights in Lou Mac Park around 5p, including carols with the Pamlico Chorale.

Friday, December 8:
• Luminaries deployed around town
• Oriental Business Open Houses
• Lighted Engineless Flotilla in the Harbor ~ 5p
• Lighting of Christmas Star at the Harbor ~ 5:15p
• Light Up Oriental decorating contest winners announced
• Holiday Lip Sync at 8p at The Silos

Saturday, December 9:
• Breakfast with Santa at Brantley’s
• Kid’s free gingerbread house decorating at Brantley’s
• Business Open Houses
• Jingle Bell Fun Run at 10a
• Christmas Parade at 1p
• Holt’s Chapel Community Center Celebration at 2p
• Hot Chocolate at the Sargent Boat House at 3p
• Live Nativity at 3:30p

One New Bern Yacht Club member carries another in the 2022 Spirit of Christmas Parade.

Questions about this year’s festivities? Contact Marsha Paplham at Marsha’s Cottage at 252-249-0334.

If you’d like to donate to Spirit of Christmas to help defray the cost of the decorations, luminaria, Tree of Names and Lights, and more, you can make a check out to The Spirit of Christmas and drop it by Marsha’s Cottage at the intersection of Hodges and Wall Streets.

Posted Monday November 27, 2023 by Allison DeWeese

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