Conway ushers in the holidays

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2003

CONWAY – Last Saturday residents of Conway and neighboring municipalities gathered around a blocked off section of Highway 158 with family and friends to usher in the Christmas season with the town’s annual Christmas parade.

Children lined the streets eagerly awaiting the decorative floats, festive music and yes, Santa Claus. The event reflected a cooperative effort of town officials, businesses, educational facilities, civic and religious organizations and volunteer groups.

Shading their eyes from the sunlight, parade goers endured descending temperatures with heavy jackets, scarves and fingers wrapped around coffee mugs. Members of the parade processional threw handfuls of candy at the sidelines where already hyperactive, excited youngsters scrambled to and fro to collect their post-Halloween sweets.

The event included everything from fire trucks and antique cars to school marching bands, sports bikes and Native American equestrians. Floats depicting the birth and resurrection of Jesus rolled past the attentive audience with statements of &uot;Jesus is Lord,&uot; &uot;He is Risen,&uot; and &uot;Jesus Came to Save.&uot;

The streets resonated with sounds of hope and joy as the Children’s Handbell Choir from Conway Baptist Church chimed a trail of spiritual songs as a float carrying the little elves rolled down the processional.

NC Senator Robert Holloman made an appearance, waving to attendees from a maroon vehicle while the future leaders of our country proudly carried various flags from the color guard.

At the parade’s conclusion, a fire-truck took the place of a sleigh pulled by reindeer as it carried jolly old Saint Nick past beaming faces of innocent children and nostalgic adults.

Following the parade, Conway Middle School hosted a holiday craft show.

Entrepreneurs from North Carolina to Virginia displayed their various treasures in adjacent booths of a crowded gymnasium converted into a shopper’s paradise.

From puppets on a string to jewelry, baskets and homemade jellies, shoppers had their pick of unique gift items.

Patsy Taylor, President of the Ladies Auxiliary and area native, coordinated the event. Taylor, who is the wife of a local firefighter, has dedicated the past 12 years to organizing the event. She said the reason she continues to host events like this is because for her, it is a way of giving back to the community.

&uot;There are a lot of background things that go into a function like this,&uot; she said. &uot;Phone calls to vendors, advertising in the newspapers and on the radio to get the word out to the public, but in the end, all the hard work pays off. It all comes together when the people start coming in, then it’s like, wow, this is great!&uot;

According to Taylor, the profits are reinvested in the Conway Fire Department who in return for the support, volunteer in a combined effort to assist the vendors in unloading their goods and setting up their tables.

&uot;The vendors really like that,&uot; said Taylor. &uot;We had a vendor one time that told me that she would come even if she didn’t sell anything simply because it was so much fun.&uot;

Judy Smith of JT’s Crafts and Gifts out of Nashville, NC commented, &uot;I’ve always enjoyed coming to these kinds of shows because the people of the community are so nice. It makes the event really rewarding.&uot;

David Seate, a Master Electrician for the U.S. Navy, proved that he was a master at more than just light switches and outlets as he created custom airbrush designs for patrons while they watched in awe.

Frances Seate, David’s mother, commented that her son had &uot;been doing this for over eight years.&uot; Mrs. Seate said that her son obtained his airbrush license in 1995 and operates his business, &uot;Pro-Air,&uot; on the side.

&uot;He taught himself how to do it and then later took some classes to perfect his talents,&uot; said the proud yet humble mother. When asked why her son participated in the event, she stated, &uot; He does it because he enjoys it.&uot;

Aulander resident Amy Baker, who operates a side business that sells uniquely decorative jewelry and accents called, &uot;Applauzz,&uot; expressed that participating in the craft show &uot;really gets you in the Christmas spirit.&uot;

Baker stated that for her, it is a way of testifying of the reasons we celebrate this holiday. &uot;It reminds us of Jesus’ birth and all the things that he modeled before the world with his life. Coupled with the camaraderie of good people, it just makes it that much more enjoyable.&uot;

&uot;This was a joint effort by many people who contributed their time and talents,&uot; said Taylor. &uot;I hope that people enjoy what we have to offer. We couldn’t have done this alone.&uot;