By David Leone
Though the holiday season has been eking in for weeks, major Christmas events begin this weekend including the Lighting of Wake Forest and parades in Rolesville, Youngsville and Franklinton.
Kicking off the weekend early, the Franklinton Christmas Parade begins at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday) on Main Street downtown. The parade will go on rain, shine or snow, though warm, clear weather is predicted.
Friday, come downtown to town hall at 301 S. Brooks St. for the Lighting of Wake Forest at 6 p.m. This year’s ceremony features the lighting of a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree by Mayor Vivian Jones, followed by the arrival of St. Nick. The event also includes performances by choirs and pictures with Santa inside town hall.
Weather permitting, free horse and carriage rides will also be offered along South White Street beginning at 6:30 p.m. The rides depart from the Depot parking lot, 110 S. White St. Downtown merchants remain open late for interested window shoppers.
For the more spiritually minded, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church’s annual Walk Through Bethlehem live nativity scene begins Friday, 6-9 p.m. The permanently-constructed walkable display is a mustn’t-miss treasure of the Christmas season.
Want to do both? The walk continues Saturday, at the same time and Sunday, 5-8 p.m. Admission is free, but non-perishable donations for Tri-Area Ministry and Backpack Buddies accepted. The church is at 12605 Capital Blvd.
In Wake Forest, the downtown holiday open house runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be free horse and carriage rides, visits and pictures with Santa, live entertainment and a variety of special events in the downtown businesses.
Strike up the bands! The Youngsville Christmas Parade begins at 10 a.m. from North Nassau Street down Main Street to the Youngsville Armory.
There will be events all day long, such as the Christmas Cheer at the Youngsville Armory from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with crafts for the children, pictures with Santa, as well as presentations from various groups in town. Also, visit the Youngsville Museum of History, 120 W. Franklin St., for an open house after the parade.
The Lighting of the Youngsville Christmas Tree is set for 5:30 p.m. at the Irene Mitchell Park, 125 W. Persimmon St.
And at 7 p.m. is Franklinton’s Christmas on Main, a middle-of-the-street event featuring Christmas carols from area churches and the lighting of the town Christmas tree before people take the Holiday Lights Tour to see the festive displays in the community.
The Rolesville Christmas Parade is at 2 p.m. down Main Street. More than 100 entries are expected, including homemade and professional floats, marching bands and civic groups, as well as cartoon and Christmas characters. The parade is always capped by a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The Franklin County Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday in downtown Louisburg.
The town of Wake Forest and Wake Forest ARTS present The Brightest Light — a free holiday concert featuring The Free Spirits Ensemble of the Raleigh Symphony and the Franklin Academy Middle School Chorus at the new Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St., at 4 p.m.
In this concert, a storyteller will tell of some of the origins of the customs, music, and decorations for the holiday season. Music includes selections from The Nutcracker and other holiday favorites.
Seating is limited. Go to the parks and recreation department window at town hall for the free tickets.
Last, but not least, Wake Forest Baptist Church presents an Appalachian Winter & Hanging of the Greens winter concert at 6:30 p.m. The free show includes sacred harp tunes, Shaker hymns and Appalachian melodies, featuring the choirs of the church and guest Appalachian instrumental consort. The church is at 107 E. South Ave.
The Bunn Christmas Parade will also be held Saturday, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m.
Wake Forest’s Christmas Parade is also Saturday, Dec. 14 on South White Street downtown. The parade begins at 1 p.m.