‘Small Town Magic’ weaves holiday spell

Published 2:49 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MURFREESBORO—The Candlelight Christmas Tour once again lit up the streets of Murfreesboro as visitors from everywhere came to explore the town’s history.

On Thursday and Friday, the Murfreesboro Historical Association held their 24th annual Candlelight Christmas Tour, a progressive dinner consisting of 12 stops where tour-goers can learn about the history of the town. The stops included the Roberts-Vaughan Village Center, Chowan University, the Elizabeth Sewell Parker Memorial Library and the Murfree Center.

The tour also featured stops within the historic district including the Murfree-Smith Law Office/Gift Shop, the Agriculture and Transportation Museum, the William Rae Museum, the Evans Tin Shop, the Winborne Country Store, the Vincent-Deale Blacksmith Shop, the Wheeler House and Hertford Academy.

Murfreesboro Historical Association (MHA) President John Woodard said the tour was nearly sold out each night. Approximately 800 people attended the event during its traditional two-day run.

On Thursday, several large tour buses that made a stop for the tour, one carrying 30 people from the greater Philadelphia, Pa. area that were on a mystery tour.

Gary Agostini of Phoenixville, Pa. was among those on the three-day mystery tour where the tour-guide kept the guests “baited” on their next stop.

Agostini said he was impressed with Murfreesboro.

“So far the buildings have been beautiful,” he said of the Candlelight Tour. “Everyplace we go a lot of these little towns have some kind of history.”

Barbara and Bob Marozzi of Bucks County, Pa. were also on the mystery tour that made a stop in Murfreesboro.

“I think it’s very unique; the people (involved with the event) have done a great job,” said Mrs. Marozzi.

Woodard said around 200 volunteers helped to make the tour possible.

Woodard noted there was a new stop on the tour this year, the Elizabeth Sewell Parker Memorial Library. The third stop on the tour, the library offered a craft activity in the form of make-your-own ornaments and gift bags.

Beverley Warrick, branch manager for the library, said the tour bringing community spirit and good exposure for the library were reasons for being involved.

“It takes a little bit of planning,” she said. “We tried to use as much in house as we can. I think everyone has loved it (so far).”

The tour also drew those from the local areas near Murfreesboro. Mother and daughter, Donna Jones and Annie Gayle of Franklin, Va. were told about the Candlelight Tour by one of Jones’s co-workers.

Jones said she’s always had a penchant for the “old” days and history.

“I wish I could have lived back then,” she said.

Gayle said she accompanied her mother because she simply wanted to experience a historical tour.

“I’ve always wanted to go on one of these,” she said.

The event also brought back those who have been before. Alvin and Judy Parker made the drive from their home in Chesapeake, Va. to Murfreesboro for their third Candlelight Christmas Tour.

“She likes old houses,” said Mr. Parker about their reason for returning again.

Mrs. Parker’s connection to Murfreesboro goes a little deeper than “old houses” as her grandmother graduated from Chowan Female Institute.

“I associate it with the way my grandparents and the way they lived,” she said of the tour. “It helps to connect you to your past.”