Update: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. — more Santa sightings included
If you’re like us, a good portion of the holiday season is spent trying to track down the jolly ol’ elf so your kids can sheepishly sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. Or, more than likely, just cry until you take them away, then cry all the way home because they didn’t get to tell him what they wanted and now they won’t get anything for Christmas.
In most towns, finding Santa is easy. In Sanford, it’s not. The main reason — Sanford doesn’t have a mall. And everyone knows Santa lives at the mall until Christmas Eve.
Sanford has many outdoor shopping areas like Riverbirch and whatever they call that Walmart area, but no real mall, where you can get samples of bad Chinese at a food court while your wife stands in line to pay $35 for a picture with Santa your kids probably don’t want to take.
What was the point of all this again? Oh yeah. Santa.
Sure, you can drive up to Cary or down to Fayetteville and waste a day waiting in line at a mall. But why?
Never fear! Here are some places in Lee County where you can find Saint Nick in the next month. If you know of other places, let us know by commenting on our Facebook post.
Sanford, Broadway tree lighting events
Sanford kicks off the holiday season on Friday by lighting up the train and tree in Depot Park in what has become a tradition for downtown. Santa will arrive at 6 p.m. with a little help from the Sanford Fire Department and will stick around until every kid’s had a chance to go over his or her list. There’ll be music from the FOG Band, Temple Teens and a choir, as well as food, crafts and hot freakin’ chocolate.
Then on Sunday, Broadway will host a tree lighting ceremony of its own at the North Carolina Veterans Memorial. The event starts at 4 p.m.
Sanford Christmas Parade
Broadway Christmas Parade
Lee County is blessed with two of the best Christmas parades in the state. The Sanford Christmas Parade, hosted by the Central Carolina Jaycees, is one of the longest-running nighttime parades in the country. If you’ve never been to it, you’re in for a treat. For a small city, we do the Christmas parade right! Be prepared to sit in the cold for at least an hour (or two if you want a good spot).
The parades feature beauty queens, elected officials, floats from local business and churches, marching bands and ROTC groups from both Lee County and Southern Lee, and whole bunch of fire trucks and lights and stuff the kids will love. Santa usually brings up the rear on a fire truck as well.
We won’t talk about last year’s Sanford parade. Keep moving. This year’s iteration will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4. If you want a good seat, you should get downtown by 6 at least.
The Broadway Christmas Parade is every bit as awesome. Put on by the Broadway Lions Club, it starts at 2 p.m. on Dec. 9, though the Christmas celebration starts at 10 a.m. that day.
We highly recommend both parades!
If you want a good “retail Santa”, one of the best in the area can be found at Kathryn’s Hallmark over in Riverbirch. Bring in the whole family for pictures, or stop by while you’re shopping. Santa will be available from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. on Sundays throughout the Christmas Season. He will also be in the store on various other weekdays. Consult his schedule here.
Broken Plow Farm
1851 Avents Ferry Road, Sanford, NC
One of the coolest places spend time with Santa is the Broken Plow Farm between Sanford and Broadway. The hayride through a farm full of Christmas lights may be the headliner here, but their Santa setup is second-to-none as well. Santa has his own little building, and each family gets to spend a few minutes of quality time with him. Best of all, they let you take your own pictures! They also take pics of each visit to post on their Facebook page.
The farm is open each Friday and Saturday until Christmas, as well as Thursday, Dec. 21, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.. Get there early though, because it will be busy! Tickets are $9 for 2 years and older, and includes the hayride and your visit with Santa. For more information call 919-770-6223.
Diana Matthews Photography
Book a 20-minute photo session with Santa while he’s in town. Sessions last about 20 minutes, and your kids will get to paint a toy with Santa and help him check to see if their name is on the “naughty list” (we hope it’s not).
CCCC Christmas Tree Lighting
This Thursday, beginning at 5:30 p.m., on the CCCC campus. Music from the Lee County High School Band, free photos with Santa (and the school’s cougar mascot) and hot chocolate and cookies.
Family Promise’s “Breakfast with Santa” fundraiser
Family Promise of Lee County, which provides assistance to homeless families locally, will host a “Breakfast with Santa” fundraiser from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Sanford.
A $5 ticket (available at the Family Promise Day Center, 2302 Woodland Ave., online, or by calling 919-718-1540) gets you all you can eat pancakes; photos with St. Nick are available for an additional $5. Other activities include a children’s coloring contest, photo booth, a cookie decorations station, and more.
All funds generated will benefit homeless families in Lee County.
CARA’s Annual ‘Santa Paws’ Fundraiser
Your dogs might like Santa, too. You never know. Go find out at the annual fundraiser for Carolina Animal Rescue Association from 12 to 4 p.m. at Big Bloomers Flower Farm in Sanford.
Photo session with Jimmy Haire Photo
Jimmy Haire Photography will host photo sessions with the guy with a white beard and red hat on Saturday, Dec. 2, beginning at 8 a.m. Call (919) 776-8048 to schedule your photo session.