Tree lighting, parade highlight kick-off
The Town of Benson welcomed the holidays in style with their annual Christmas on Main Celebration Friday night.
Benson Mayor Jerry Medlin, who presided over his first holiday kick-off, said the town was ready, the weather was just right and the crowd was ready.
“This is a great, cold night, but everybody’s warm and their hearts are warm,” the mayor said shortly before taking the microphone to host the tree lighting. “They’re enjoying the entertainment, they’re going to enjoy the great parade and it’s all warmed them so much they forget about the cold.”
Mayor Medlin, who has always believed the downtown revitalization of Benson has been a key, said events like Christmas on Main are a community unifying effort. He believes the town’s reputation for the holiday celebration was reinforced Friday night.
“It brings a lot of people to our town,” he said. “We’ve always had a reputation of having an outstanding program and the parade is always just great. People come and they buy things in the stores, they eat and it’s just a festive time and it gets us ready for Christmas.”
After musical performances by the Benson Elementary School Choir and solo numbers by Benson residents Ellen Allen and Ava Grace Jernigan, the mayor and the crowd counted down to the tree lighting.
With a look of both amazement and joy, Miss Benson Charli Rosenburg and Junior Miss Benson Gracie Barbour guided Little Miss Benson Morgan Lee in the process of lighting the tree. With only a smile, Morgan threw the switch then smiled as she looked up at the tree which lit-up Benton Square and seemed to overshadow the string of headlights on cars marching up and down U.S. 301.
Next it was time for the festivities to move to Main Street itself in anticipation of the parade. Nearly 90 entries made their way down the heart of the town, only stopped by the customary railroad train which seems to always find a way to delay the parade in mid-stream.
Parents along the street could be heard telling their children, who were waiting in anticipation of Santa’s arrival near the end, it won’t be long.
One father was heard telling his young daughter, “just be patient, I promise Santa Claus will be here,” he said.
The child’s eyes seemed to glow as she looked and tried to squint and see where the Jolly Old Elf would eventually make his way.
As the end of the parade drew near, Mr. Claus and his helper Lance Stephenson could be seen waving and smiling as they exchanged “Merry Christmas” with bystanders and was heard several “Ho, Ho, Ho,” moments as the Benson Fire Wagon — driven as it has been so many other times by Don Stroud — was temporarily transformed into Santa’s Sleigh.
As Santa passed, the same father could be heard telling his daughter, “see there he is.”
The little girl smiled as wide as she could and waved with passion as St. Nick rolled past.
– Dunn Daily Record