Clayton’s vibrant Main Street shines especially bright during the holidays.
A drive through downtown reveals storefronts with with eye-catching displays and twinkling lights.
And last week, the Clayton Downtown Development Association acknowledged those displays, announcing the winners of its annual Storefront Decoration Contest.
Sherry’s Signature Cheesecakes, at 120 E. Main St., won Best Overall. The dessert shop’s historic aesthetic attracts both locals and out-of-towners, many of whom have had their photos taken in front of the house.
The former residence looks even more special this holiday season, with purple wreaths adorning the windows and white Christmas lights giving it a classy finish.
Owner Sherry Mitchell said if the holiday decor brings in new customers, that’s great. But she decorates because she loves Christmas so much.
Three years ago, Mitchell decorated her home with 28 Christmas trees, the smallest about three feet tall.
“I kinda love Christmas,” she admitted.
But now her business is the outlet for her Christmas cheer, and she no longer goes all out at her home.
The dessert shop’s decorations brought in at least one new family of customers, said Mitchell. She said her shop stays busy during the holidays, making more than 200 cheesecakes in December.
Mitchell’s cheesecakes, which come in 66 flavors, are in such demand that one person placed an order for 35 two weeks before Thanksgiving.
This Thanksgiving, Mitchell had her family meal in her shop. When two customers came in to buy a cheesecake, Mitchell got up from the table to serve them.
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, business is about double what it is during other months, Mitchell said. She has two seasonal flavors – eggnog and white chocolate peppermint.
Other places that got spruced up for the holidays include the Mosaic Community Garden at 438 E. Main St. The garden won the award for Best Nonprofit.
It’s hard to miss the colorful displays in the garden. In keeping with the heart of the space, most of the decorations are hand-painted or built by hand.
Planted between rows of kale are wooden boards with Charlie Brown Christmas scenes. On the garden’s wooden stage, adorned with garland, children performed a Charlie Brown skit during the annual Christmas tree lighting last Thursday.
Thomas Lipscomb, who oversees the garden, said it is a place to build community and to help people who are in need.
During the Christmas village on Thursday, Santa came to the garden to hear children’s Christmas wishes and pose for photos. Families each donated a dollar for their children to sit with Santa. The money will go to the Clayton Area Ministries food bank.
Other businesses that won were Morning Glory Inn for Most Traditional decorations. City Florist won Best Florist.
The winners received plaques during the tree-lighting ceremony on Thursday.
Winning honorable mention were Clayton Chiropractic, 201 E. Main St.; RockKandie Studio and Gallery, 104 W. Main St.; Circa Furniture, 427 E. Main St.; Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library, 100 S. Church St.; Flowers by the Neuse, 321 E. Main St.; Dyrke Maricle State Farm Insurance, 436 E. Main St.; and Annie V’s, 111 S. Barbour St.