By DAVID BORAKS
Christmas in Davidson started out 25 years ago as an extra night of shopping at Main Street businesses, but it’s always been something much more for local merchants and residents.
Even that first year, despite its origins as a shopping promotion, there was a sense of community, recalls Elaine McArn, owner of the Needlecraft Center on North Main Street. “It was low-key, but even then it had a really good feel to it,” she said.
Ms. McArn was among a trio of founders that included Irene Blackwell, of the Village Store, and Barbara Freund of Main Street Books. What has made it so special over the years, she said, is the spirit it brings to town.
“There is a certain small-town feel to this that is really special,” Ms. McArn said. “It’s what people want at Christmas.”
This year’s Christmas in Davidson festival runs Thursday to Saturday nights, 6-9pm, along Main and South Main streets. There’s still shopping, but the festival has come a long way from 1988. In 2011, the three-night event attracted an estimated 30,000 people.
And while shopping is still a part of the event, it has grown to include a variety of traditional events, including carriage rides, food, music and a South Main Square skating rink. This year’s festival, has a charitable twist: a 25th anniversary collection of 25-cent pieces, in glass jars at South Main Square and the Village Green, with proceeds going to the Davidson Lands Conservancy.
New features include a Gingerbread House contest at the Copeland House on North Main Street, as well as the Doggie Fashion Show and the Ugly Sweater Contest. There’s music and entertainment on the Village Green and at businesses up and down the street, a food court with local restaurants, and local schools and nonprofits raising money with hot chocolate sales and more. And Santa will visit with children at the Davidson public library.
It seems everyone has an idea for how to get involved, even if their businesses or organizations aren’t on Main Street. CrossFit Davidson will have a “magical reindeer food” station outside Summit Coffee where children can create bags of sparkly feed to take home to attract Santa’s sleigh. And CrossFit, which is a couple of block off Main Street is collecting used cell phones to donate to the non-profit organization Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc.
The Rotary Club returns this year with its tree decorating contest. Businesses and residents are invited to sponsor trees – by decorating them or letting the club do the work. Visitors will vote for the best trees by making a small donation, which will go to Rotary charities. Check out the trees at the North End of the Village Green.
Town officials are saying thanks to Davidson residents for their hospitality all these years by offering discounts on carriage rides and skating on Thursday night. All carriage rides and ice skating will be $7.50 per person – a 25 percent discount in honor of the festival’s 25 years.
“We really want to thank the community for allowing 30,000 people to descend on our town. We’re thanking people for their graciousness and hospitality,” said Kim Fleming, Davidson’s Community and Economic Development Manager.
Twenty-five years after its origins, Christmas in Davidson is a chance to “showcase Davidson as the great community it is,” Ms. Fleming said. “We also want it to be an event that’s good for business and something that citizens enjoy.
But taking off her official hat, and speaking as a resident, she said she loves the annual festival for the same reasons that Ms. McArn enjoyed it that first year.
“What I like most about Christmas in Davidson is seeing everyone,” she said.
CHRISTMAS IN DAVIDSON SCHEDULE AND INFORMATION
See more about Christmas in Davidson and find a full schedule of events christmasindavidson.com
Nov. 25, 2012, “Sign up for Christmas in Davidson ugly sweater and doggie fashion shows” – This year’s festival brings back the Doggie Fashion Show on Friday night and the Ugly Sweater Contest on Saturday night, both on the Davidson library porch.
See past coverage of Christmas in Davidson on DavidsonNews.net.
Nov. 28, 2012, Main Street to close Sat. for N. Meck Christmas Parade.
Dec. 4, 2011, “Was this the best Christmas in Davidson ever?” – Around Davidson Columnist Brenda Barger reflects on the 2011 festival.