CLAYTON -- Downtown will come alive with the spirit of the holiday season with several events planned for residents of all ages.
The town’s annual Christmas Village & Tree Lighting program will start things off on Thursday, Nov. 29 with many family- friendly events happening from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
This is the sixth year the Clayton Downtown Development Association, Inc. (CDDA) has organized an evening filled with music and holiday cheer, in addition to a business open house, live Nativity and the traditional tree lighting on the Town Square.
Bruce Naegelen, downtown development coordinator, says the event is one of the towns largest. Last year over 4,500 attended.
“This is more than just a tree lighting,” he said. “Everyone enjoys walking along Main Street and listening to the performances. It’s a nice social time as well as a chance to see what businesses are located here.”
Many downtown storefronts and restaurants will be open and the Wagner House will offer a special Christmas buffet by reservation only. Merchants will welcome guests with holiday refreshments, including cider, soft drinks, cookies and candies.
Children from area schools, churches and dance studios will provide seasonal performances on a stage in Horne Square. Choral students from Clayton High School will showcase their talents on the steps of the Chamber of Commerce and carol along Main Street. A live nativity scene will be featured on the lawn of Sherry’s Signature Cheesecakes, 120 E. Main St.
New this year is Santa’s Workshop, located at Mosaic Community Garden, 439 E. Main St. Children are invited to visit with Santa and tell him what’s on their holiday wish list. For a $1 donation to Clayton Area Ministries Holiday Food Drive, parents will be allowed to snap a photo of their child with Santa on their own camera or smart phone.
The evening will also include the popular Doggie Christmas costume contest and parade. Contestants and their owners should gather at 6 p.m. at Doggie Do’z, 113 E. First St. The parade will run along Main St and end at Santa’s Workshop for judging and photos. A minimum donation of $1 or a can of food for the Johnston County Animal Shelter is required for all participants.
Activities along Main Street will wrap up at 8 p.m. In previous years, an honorary grand marshal, either a local or television “celebrity”, would make the trek from Lombard Street to Town Square along with Santa Claus in a horse-drawn carriage.