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The Spirit of Christmas is Coming
Light Up Oriental
November 10, 2020

riental’s annual Spirit of Christmas celebration is on. Because of the interesting times we live in, there will be a few changes. But there is also a new element everyone can participate in; the first Spirit of Christmas Decorating Contest.

Spirit of Christmas begins the evening of Thursday, December 10 and runs through Saturday, December 12. But the lights go up first.

“The whole concept is to light up Oriental,” Tourism Board Chairman Marsha Paplham said, “both residential and business awards will be given out.”

To enter the ‘Light up Oriental’ contest, decorations must be up by Monday, December 7. Judging takes place Monday, December 7 through Wednesday, December 9. Winners will be announced Thursday, December 10 at 5:30p at the lighting of the Tree of Names and Lights.

A lighted horse and buggy in front of Forrest Farm Supply in 2019.

Bonnie Crosser, head of the Parks and Recreation Board is assisting Marsha with the effort, discussing lighting up Lou Mac Park and extending lights along the pier.

Pamlico Arts Council President Angie Propst is taking the lead getting businesses involved, particularly along Broad Street. Paplham, Propst and Crosser are working to extend the stretch of luminary candles that light up Oriental’s roads during Spirit of Christmas.

This year, luminaries will begin near the Silos on Broad Street, cover Hodges St down to the South Ave waterfront, and curve around Link Lane. The Link Lane neighborhood, Paplham said, are already planning their decorations. She hopes other home owners also get involved.

For this year’s luminaries, Paplham is using LED lights instead of candles. By doing so the bags do not need to be opened to keep from catching fire and the candles do not need to be pre-lit, activities that, in pre-pandemic years, were done by a room full of volunteers. Paplham, Propst and Crosser will deliver luminary kits to businesses, and organize deployments in the residential areas.

A white, wax bag sits on a street curb. A candle glows inside it.
Luminaries line Hodges Street during Spirit of Christmas 2019.

The Light Up Oriental theme also extends to The Spirit of Christmas Parade. The parade is lightly penciled in this year. Governor Cooper issued an executive order on November 10 prohibiting mass gatherings including parades. The order is effective through December 4. If the ban is lifted after the 4th, the parade will take place Saturday, December 12. is cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

However. Santa will still make his rounds in Oriental. Escorted by the fire department and the police department, Santa will wind his way through Oriental beginning at 11:30a on Saturday, December 12. When you hear the fire truck, come out and wave at Santa as he drives by.

Though the decorating begins early, Spirit of Christmas will officially begin in the evening on Thursday, December 10 with the lighting of the Tree of Names and Lights in Lou Mac Park.

Friday evening, the New Bern Yacht Club docks at Oriental Harbor Marina, their vessels covered in lights. A lighted Kayak parade paddles into Oriental Harbor and the Star is lit on Hodges Street. On Saturday, businesses host open houses throughout the day.

Because of COVID concerns, there will be no Live Nativity and no Chorale this year. Paplham acknowledges it will be a quieter year. And that’s okay. “The thing I’m excited about,” she said, “is being able to get hot chocolate or hot cider and walk the town and look at the lights. Just a nice dark evening, hot drink, beautiful light.”

The Star at the town dock in 2019.

If you would like more information about this year’s event, contact Marsha Paplham at 252-249-0334.

Posted Tuesday November 10, 2020 by Allison DeWeese

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