By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Santa Claus is coming to Raeford this Friday for the seventh annual Hometown Christmas, and so is the Grinch.
Santa will arrive in town at 5:30 p.m. December 2 to help with lighting the Christmas tree at Freedom Park, located at the corner of Main Street and East Central Avenue. Afterward, he’ll stick around the park to meet children and for families to snap photos.
Attendees should also be on the lookout for the Grinch, who’ll be roaming Main Street.
Hometown Christmas this year will feature many activities for kids and adults to enjoy. The evening is bringing back the popular hay rides that take riders through downtown, lit with twinkling lights, to the Raeford-Hoke Museum and back.
This year’s Hometown Christmas will have about 30 different businesses, agencies and nonprofits set up along Main Street. While they’re not allowed to sell items in order to keep the event free to the public, many will offer freebies like hot cocoa, candy canes or other treats.
Hoke County Schools students will perform carols on the stage next to the Hoke County Public Library. A local martial arts academy will also offer a demonstration on the stage during the event.
Families can stop inside the library to visit the Kid’s Corner. The library is running the Kid’s Corner this year, and will offer free arts and crafts and other fun activities for children.
Downtown businesses will be decked out for the holidays and many keep their doors open past their usual closing time to give shoppers a chance to get a jump-start on crossing off their Christmas lists.
Local restaurants will sell food and drinks during the event. In addition, Goo-Ma and Yopa’s food truck will join the festivities. Due to popular demand, this is the first year the Chamber invited food trucks to participate in the celebration.
Hometown Christmas is organized and sponsored by the Raeford-Hoke Chamber of Commerce and its partners. The Chamber launched the event in 2015 as a way to help the community celebrate the season, and to bring more people to see what downtown Raeford has to offer.
Main Street will be closed to traffic beginning late Friday afternoon until after the event concludes around 8 p.m. Drivers in the area should be cautious as families may be walking along side streets after dark as they arrive and depart.
For more information on Hometown Christmas or other Chamber of Commerce events, call (910) 875-5929 or visit the Chamber office at 101 Main Street in Raeford.