‘Light’ up the night

Published 11:11 am Tuesday, November 28, 2017

AHOSKIE – Stunning.

In a word, that summed up the Town of Ahoskie’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, held just after sunset here Sunday evening.

The giant tree, positioned at the edge of Main Street within No Man’s Land Park, was beautiful….as usual.

Victoria Huggins, the reigning Miss North Carolina, delivers the last line of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” at Sunday’s event held at No Man’s Land Park.

The songs of the season filled the crisp night air, as performed by members of the Soul Saving Station Choir and New Ahoskie Baptist Church.

Santa’s arrival via one of the town’s fire trucks was greeted with enthusiasm by children….all crowding in for a chance to sit with the Jolly Old Elf and share their Christmas wish lists. He was accompanied this year by Mrs. Claus and two elves.

While all of the above were welcomed attractions to Sunday’s event, the “stunning” description was captured by another special guest – Victoria Huggins, the reigning Miss North Carolina. And it’s more than just her outward appearance that leads to that accurate description as the St. Pauls native (Robeson County) boasts of a warm, caring personality….and her smile is as big and genuine as Christmas itself.

“What a joy it is for me to be here in Ahoskie tonight and help in the task of lighting this huge tree and helping to ring in the holiday season in this wonderful town,” remarked Huggins, who earned the 80th annual Miss North Carolina title this past summer. ‘I’ve been looking forward to tonight as long as it has been on my Google Calendar.”

Local children took advantage of Santa’s appearance on Sunday to share their Christmas wish lists with the Jolly Old Elf.

That calendar has been crammed with numerous events since she was crowned Miss North Carolina on June 24.

“Tonight marks my 157th appearance over the past five months as your Miss North Carolina,” Huggins noted. “I am thrilled to check Ahoskie off of my map of places I’ve been in North Carolina. I’m here!”

Huggins delighted the crowd gathered in the park with the reading of the holiday classic, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” She then led the audience in singing, “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”

Other sounds of the season, as performed by the two aforementioned church groups, included Joy to the World, Hark the Heralded Angels Sing, Deck the Halls, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Members of local Girl Scout Troop #628 assisted Ahoskie Mayor Jimmie Rowe in lighting the town’s Christmas Tree.

The Rev. Ray Faircloth of Higher Ground Church provided the invocation.

“As the lights come on tonight; as we see the lights come on all over this community, may we be reminded of the light of Jesus Christ that shines freely in us today,” said Faircloth in his prayer.

He also provided a formal introduction of Huggins, who was a guest as his church earlier on Sunday where she took part in the service.

“What a wonderful day in Ahoskie; my cup runneth over,” Huggins wrote on her Facebook page at the close of her busy Sunday in the local area. “My childhood pastor, his wife, and minister of music invited me to their new church home at Higher Ground Church to sing and share my testimony this morning. Thank you, Pastor Ray, Ms. Jenny, Ray Jr., Pam, and your families for supporting me and helping to instill a heart of service in me throughout my life. We certainly had church this morning and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Rev. Faircloth noted that Huggins was famous long before wearing the crown as the 2017 Miss North Carolina.

“She has been on a million or more boxes of Craft Macaroni and Cheese as a young girl; she wrote the jingle “I’ve Got the Blues” which earned herself the privilege of having her face on those boxes,” he said. “She also sang at the famous Showtime at the Apollo as a young girl; worked for over seven years at the famed Christmas program at the Alabama Theatre in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and, in 2010, made it to Hollywood as part of the top 100 on American Idol.”

Huggins has enjoyed traveling as a professional motivational speaker and vocalist upon request nationwide since the age of seven.

As part of her earning the 2017 Miss North Carolina crown, Huggins was awarded a $20,000 scholarship in addition to being chosen as the recipient of the Dana Reason Quality of Life Award, Preliminary Talent Award, and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Miracle Maker Award. Over the past five years in the Miss North Carolina Organization, Huggins has raised over $50,000 for her personal platform The Alz Project: Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and the Miss North Carolina Educational Scholarship Fund. She is an Alzheimer’s Association Ambassador and is a strong advocate of music therapy.

Huggins is a Graduate Student through Johns Hopkins University, studying Government with an emphasis in Political Communication. In 2015, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communication with a Double Minor in Religion and Music.

Before capturing the crown, Huggins worked at WECT/WSFX in Wilmington as the Morning News Producer and Reporter. She aspires to be a Political Analyst for a national news network.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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