For the Tribune
The annual Mount Olive Christmas Open House Celebration is Dec. 4 from 6-8 p.m. in downtown Mount Olive.
All activities will take place along Center Street.
COVID-19 has changed this year’s set up.
“We organized the celebration with four stations to allow for social distancing and keeping our citizens safe,” said Julie Beck, president of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce.
All participants are encouraged to wear masks and can visit the stations in any order, depending on which activity they wish to engage in at the time.
Some activities will have designated times.
At 6 p.m., near Southern Bank’s drive-thru, Mayor Ken Talton will present a welcome speech, followed by Beck.
Dancers from Mrs. Robin’s Academy of Dance and the Arts Council of Faison will entertain the crowd. The dancers, who have been a fixture at Mount Olive’s Christmas event for many years, will perform a variety of dances including the “Penguin Cha Cha.”
At approximately 6:30 p.m., Talton will light up a Christmas tree at the new Christmas Corner at the intersection of North Center and Main streets. The corner will include Santa’s house and mailbox, a Christmas tree and other decorations. It will be decorated in mid-November and remain in place until early January.
Residents will have an opportunity to take a photograph standing near Santa Claus and other costumed characters – penguin, Christmas tree and snowman. In addition, children may write letters to Santa and place them in his North Pole mailbox. Santa’s elves will distribute candy canes to all children ages 12 and under.
Santa will write back to all who leave a letter by Dec. 15.
“The idea is to create a festive Christmas scene where families and individuals can stop by anytime during the six weeks it is on display, take photographs and post them to social media using #makeitmountolive,” Beck said.
Another station will be outside of the Mount Olive Chamber office where participants can purchase concessions and enjoy a Pickle Train ride.
Food available for purchase includes popcorn, pickles, doughnuts, hot cocoa, canned drinks, and pickle popcorn.
All food items are $1 except the large bags of pickle popcorn that will cost $5. Cash payment only.
In addition, the Friends of the Parks will offer free rides on their Pickle Train. The pickle train will be sprayed down between each ride.
The fourth station will be in front of the UMO downtown facility where community members can donate items to the All the Kings Children Foundation (AtKC) and Welfare of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF).
The goal is to fill (4) four-foot stockings full of items that will be dispersed to those in need.
The All the Kings Children Foundation (AtKC) is looking for hats, gloves, reusable masks and Piggly Wiggly gift cards.
The Welfare of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) is looking for dog and cat food, bedding and litter boxes to be used by those that take in strays.
“2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and the Mount Olive Chamber wanted to create an initiative to give back to our community,” Beck said. “By collecting & donating items to AtKC and WOOF, we can show support for two local organizations.”
All participants who donate five or more items will have their name entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card from Especially for You.
Members of the University of Mount Olive Baseball Team will assist AtKC & WOOF in the collection of items.
“The Mount Olive Christmas Open House/Light Up Mount Olive was organized to operate in a safe and socially distanced manner where positive vibes and Christmas cheer can be shared with our community,” voiced Julie Beck.
The Open House is the kickoff to the community Christmas celebrations, which also includes the annual Christmas parade on Dec. 5 at 10 a.m.