The traditions old and new that we’ve come to love during the holiday season in Sanford will — like everything else — look a little different this year. Below is a list of annual Sanford Christmas events and the changes you’ll see this December.
The biggest changes are the Central Carolina Jaycees annual Sanford Christmas Parade, said to be the largest night-time Christmas parade in the state, and the Town of Broadway Christmas Parade. Both parades were canceled earlier this fall.
“We held off on the announcement awaiting a miracle until we had no choice to cancel,” the Jaycees posted on its Facebook page on Oct. 24.
The bright spot — the Sanford parade already has a date for the next one … Dec. 6, 2021.
While we’re on the subject of cancellations, Broken Plow Farm’s annual The Lights of Christmas farm tour also won’t be happening this year. The farm says it has high hopes to see everyone again in 2021.
DSI’S SUNDAY WITH SANTA
Downtown Sanford Inc. is responsible for some of the best holiday family entertainment in the region with its annual Train and Tree Lighting ceremony (that included Santa, live music, snow sledding, hot chocolate and more).
The crowds it attracted are a no-no this year, but DSI is adapting with a Sunday With Santa in Depot Park event on Dec. 6 from noon to 4 p.m. Families will have the opportunity to get their children’s picture taken with Santa (no laps … he’ll be in the background and socially distant) and leave him their wishlists. Pajamas are encouraged, and hot cocoa will be served.
Register by visiting the Downtown Sanford Inc. Facebook page or visit https://bit.ly/37l49HC.
COVID-19 restrictions will apply.
CCCC COUGAR EXPRESS
Central Carolina Community College’s annual tree lighting ceremony and Christmas event will be called “Cougar Express” this year and will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 3, at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center’s parking lot.
Cougar Express will be a drive-thru event geared toward small children and will include cookies and candy canes, elves, a snowman and, of course, Santa Claus.
Appropriate COVID-19 measures will be in place and will be observed, say organizers. For more information, call Emily Hare at (919) 718-7230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Church Basement Ladies Christmas” have graced the Temple Theatre stage to large crowds over the last three years, and while another Christmas classic is coming this month, the spectators will be few.
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will run from Dec. 3 to 20, performed at Temple for the first time in over 35 years. Temple had originally planned to bring “A Christmas Carol” back in 2020, but that show requires too many bodies — 68 actors and three casts of youth performers during the last run — during a pandemic.
TBCPE features just 14 actors, a few adult actors who had signed on for “A Christmas Carol” and members of Temple’s youth conservatory. The show tells the story of a group of orphans brought in to perform in a small town’s traditional Christmas play, turning the show on its head in the process.
Tickets are on sale at templeshows.com — seating will be limited, as Temple will adhere to capacity rules set forth by the state. COVID-19 regulations will apply.
Charitable organizations are not only facing fewer donations this holiday season, but greater demand from those in need as well.
If it’s not already a part of your holiday tradition, make an effort to donate to one of Sanford’s many nonprofit organizations and food banks.
In its last five distributions, Christian United Outreach Center of Lee County saw 481 families who needed food assistance for Thanksgiving and used its mobile drive-thru line. CUOC distributed more than 300 turkeys over the two-week period and received additional food from Chick-Fil-A, Broadway Elementary School and several other groups in the process.
That said, giving is down this year, according to CUOC Executive Director Teresa Dew Kelly, who says donations are down because COVID-19 regulations have all but wiped out some of their big fundraisers and food drives of the past.
“We didn’t have a Lee Regional Fair, we didn’t have a postal food drive, we didn’t have a Winter Wonderland event … no ACC Barnstorming Tour, and our thrift store is operating at 50-percent capacity due to [a lack of] volunteers and COVID,” says Kelly.
According to board member Ava Spivey Hayes, CUOC’s thrift shop relocated to Main Street in Jonesboro to allow more space at the facility for a new “shopping” experience for clients that allows them to pick out their own items in a safe environment. Hayes says without CUOC-led food drives this year, they’re relying on the community now more than ever.
“If churches, workplaces or civic clubs could come together and rally support, that would be amazing,” she says. “And volunteers are always needed, especially now with the majority of our past volunteers being retirees who aren’t able to be exposed to others at this time.”
Visit cuoclc.org to learn more about donating or find the organization on Facebook for recent updates.