In 2017, one of The Rant’s most popular holiday-themed online stories stated that there just weren’t many places to see Santa in Sanford. That’s not the case this year. Just a couple of years later, there are plenty of opportunities to see the Jolly Old Elf this month in the Sanford area.

Christmas parades 

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. 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.

This year’s Sanford parade will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2. If you want a good seat, you should get downtown by 6.

Broadway’s Old Fashioned Christmas Parade is every bit as awesome. Put on by the Broadway Lions Club, it starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, though the Christmas celebration starts at 10 a.m. that day.

Kringle & Kompany at Riverbirch  

If you want a good “retail Santa,” one of the best in the area can be found at Kathryn’s Hallmark over in Riverbirch Plaza. Bring in the whole family for pictures, or stop by while you’re shopping. From Dec. 3 to Dec. 20, Santa will be available from 6 to 7:45 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, Fridays from 5 to 7:45 p.m. and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. On Dec. 7 and 21, he will be available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Dec. 14 from 5 to 8 p.m. Consult his schedule on Kathryn’s Hallmark’s Facebook page.

Tree lighting events 

Broadway gets the holiday festivities under way on Dec. 1 this year with “Christmas in the Park” at the North Carolina Veteran’s Memorial, including its annual tree lighting ceremony. The event starts at 4 p.m.

Sanford will light up the train and tree in Depot Park on Dec. 6 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.

Santa visits City Hall

Before Santa can go on his magical journey, he has to get all the proper permits of course. That means a trip to City Hall. From 4 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 5, city residents can greet Saint Nick in the lobby of Sanford’s City Hall, located at 225 E. Weatherspoon St. Bring a camera to snap your own photos, or get a professional photo for $1.

CCCC tree lighting

Santa Claus will be at Central Carolina Community College Dec. 5, enjoying the CCCC Foundation’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The free event takes place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in the Lee County Campus Plaza, located 1105 Kelly Drive, Sanford.

The Lee County High School Marching Band kicks off the festivities as the band parades through campus, accompanying Santa to the plaza. The jolly old elf will greet children of all ages and be available to take Christmas wishes back to the North Pole. Santa is ready and eager to meet all of the children and have his picture taken with them. The CCCC Foundation will post the photos on its website,, the following day, where they can be downloaded for free.

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Love Santa and fire trucks?

Who doesn’t? You can see both from 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 8, as the Tramway Fire Department will be hosting a photo session with Santa and its old truck at the fire station located at 5900 McDaniel Drive in Sanford. Families can get professional photos with Santa for $20 per session, with proceeds going to the Lee County Firefighters burned children fund.

“Breakfast with Santa” fundraiser

Family Promise of Lee County, which provides assistance to homeless families locally, will host its annual “Breakfast with Santa” fundraiser in two sessions beginning at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Sanford. A $5 ticket (available by calling 919-718-1540) gets you all you can eat pancakes, crafts, cookie decorating and a photo with Santa. All funds generated will benefit homeless families in Lee County.

Santa loves to read

All are welcome at Santa’s Holiday Extravaganza at the Lee County Library, located at 107 Hawkins Ave., Sanford, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 14. The event will feature games, crafts, holiday stories from around the world, milk and cookies, and of course Santa.

Cookies with Santa

The Lee County Partnership for Children will host a floating event on the first floor in the Mann Center at 507 N. Steele St. Activity stations will be available for the kids, and everyone will have a chance to take photos with Santa. Visit to reserve a spot.

CARA’s ‘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 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 at Big Bloomers Flower Farm at 275 Pressley Foushee Road in Sanford. Kids are welcome, too.

Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express

Ride the rails with Santa Claus at New Hope Valley Railway in Moncure. The all-volunteer railroad is continuing its holiday tradition of Santa Claus and train rides with its Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express on December 7, 8, 14, 15. Trains will depart at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. during each ride day. Tickets cost $13 for adults, $12 for seniors (ages 60+), $11 for children (ages 2-12) and children under two years old are free when sitting in the lap of an adult ticketholder.

Tickets are available for purchase at

Santa fly-in at Pik-n-Pig

If an adventurous Santa is your thing, travel to the Pik-n-Pig at 194 Gilliam McConnell Road in Carthage for the annual Annual Santa Fly-in and skydiving elves from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. Come enjoy fun for all ages and delicious home cooked food, and tell Santa what you want like for Christmas.

The elves are set to jump around 4 p.m., with Santa landing at 4:30 p.m. The restaurant is also collecting coats and toys for local families in need.