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The Spirit of Christmas is Coming
The Christmas Parade returns
November 17, 2021

arades and a light contest, luminaria and the Live Nativity. The Spirit of Christmas is coming.

An unexpected meeting with Sants in Lou Mac Park.

During December (and a little bit before) Oriental residents and businesses light up for the holiday season – literally. Trees and buildings are garlanded with lights, lawns and other outdoor spaces play host to festive decorations, and (for one weekend) the streets are lined with luminaria.

The Spirit of Christmas (SOC) is the second weekend of December. Officially, that’s Friday, December 10 & Saturday, December 11. But there’s less official happenings before then. Like the Light Up Oriental decorating contest. On the Monday prior to SOC (December 6), the judges travel through Oriental and choose a winning house and a business for the following categories:
• Most Whimsical
• Most Lights
• Most Animated
• Most Nautical
• Most Traditional
• and What The Heck Is That? (An award for those displays that defy categorization.)

Light displays from the first Light Up Oriental Contest.

The winners are announced on Wednesday evening (December 8) at the lighting of the Tree of Names and Lights in Lou Mac Park. From the tree hang ornaments with the names of loved ones – some honor the living and others honor those who have passed. There’s a small fee – $5 – for the service. It goes to help a different local organization, charity, or relief effort every year.

Volunteers help Tourism Board Chair Marsha Paplham prepare, set out, collect, and clean up the luminaria each year. It starts with folding bags at the Toucan, with a little assistance from the holiday music and a cash bar. All candles are pre-lit and set up inside the bags late Thursday afternoon with a mid-afternoon deployment on Friday, December 10. There’s also holiday music and a cash bar for the clean up at the Red Rooster on Sunday.

Each step takes about an hour or less, and the Tourism Board welcomes any and all help. If you think you’ve got an hour here and there to assist, click here to choose where and when you’d like to help.

Paddling around the harbor in the 2020 Spirit of Christmas engineless flotilla.

Friday evening, the New Bern Yacht Club reserves the slips at Oriental Marina and decorate their boats for the season. The engineless flotilla – kayaks, paddle-boarders, and other self-propelled vessels – festoon themselves in lights and make their way into the harbor at dusk. A large star is on display above the town dock and is lit by the mayor after the flotilla arrives.

After a COVID hiatus in 2020, several Spirit of Christmas events are back this year: the Live Nativity, the Community Chorale, and the Sprit of Christmas Parade.

The Children’s Theater performs a Live Nativity at the United Methodist Church. Weather dependent, it has been inside the sanctuary and outside on the church lawn. Community Chorale singers gather to deliver holiday tunes in the evening.

Wise Men keeping watch.

Saturday morning, the luminaries are picked up just in time for the parade to begin. Businesses, organizations, schools, groups, and individuals are all invited to join. If you’d like to be part of this year’s Spirit of Christmas parade, click here to fill out the form and tell parade master Tony Santore about your entry.

Every year, it takes a village to make the Spirit of Christmas happen. Volunteers, donations, and the participation of Oriental’s residents and visitors are what make the Spirit of Christmas happen. Spearheading the yearly effort is Tourism Board Chair and owner of Marsha’s Cottage, Marsha Paplham. If you have any questions about this year’s festivities, you can contact her at Marsha’s Cottage at 252-249-0334.

Luminaria line the Oriental Bridge.

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.

A full schedule including the offerings of participating businesses and non-profits will be released before The Spirit of Christmas begins.

Related Links
Spirit of Christmas 2020
Light Up Oriental
In Honor & Memory; the Tree of Names and Lights

Posted Wednesday November 17, 2021 by Allison DeWeese

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