• Botanical CampsCape Fear Botanical Garden is located just two miles from downtown Fayetteville and opened its doors in 1989. Situated between the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek. The Cape Fear Botanical Garden offers educational opportunities for kids and adults, including day camps for kids. Camps are not just a summer happening. Three winter camps are being offered this January.

    The Cape Fear Botanical Garden describes them as follows:

    Trail Blazers
    Trail Blazers takes place on January 3rd, 2022, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. This day camp is for children ages 8-12. Children will enjoy a treasure hunt and utilize their Trail Blazing skills. These skills include using a compass and reading a map. The children will also hike the River Trail.

    Oddball Animals
    There are all kinds of children with all sorts of interests. Oddball Animals is designed to expose children ages 5-10 years old to a range of wild and wonderful critters. This winter day camp takes place on January 4th, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some of the oddball animals include salamanders, millipedes and more. In addition to meeting live animals and looking for animals in the garden, participants will create their own wacky creatures.

    Tooth and Claw
    Ever wonder about how the largest predators hunt and where they live? On January 17th, 2022, this winter break camp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. explores this and more. Created for kids ages 8-12, children learn to tell a predator by its teeth. Campers will explore adaptations of predatory birds and will make bear and wolf track molds to take home with them.

    Barbara Goldentyer has worked at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden for two and a half years. She's the environmental education manager.

    "The Day Camps are fun because we have so many engaging activities like science experiments, live animals and outdoor games," said Goldentyer.
    Camps are currently closing registration at 15 campers for each camp, and there are always at least two staff members supervising the camps.

    "I would encourage kids to come to a day camp to find out how fun science can be and to explore amazing unique activities," Goldentyer said. "We add new camp themes and activities all the time, so there's always something new and something for every kid's interests. We also have almost 80 acres out in the garden to explore, so campers get to walk through a bamboo tunnel, plant things in the vegetable garden, feed the fish and look for animal tracks."

    The cost for winter camps is $20 for members and $30 for non-members. Themed snacks are provided, but campers need to bring a lunch. Preregistration is required for these events.

    Camps fill quickly, so sign up at your earliest convenience on the Cape Fear Botanical Garden website calendar at this link: www.capefearbg.org/event/. For Additional information call 910-486-0221.

  • Family of YearThe Fort Bragg Family of the Year is a unique title given to just one family every year who exemplifies the spirit of military families.

    This year, the Fort Bragg Army Community Service chose the Vona family to represent Fort Bragg families.

    Capt. Sam Vona, his wife Kristen, and their two daughters, Presley and Kathryn, have been through a lot in 2021. Vona, part of the 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was alerted that he would deploy to Iraq on New Year's Eve. Vona had two hours to get his things ready to go, say goodbye to his family and then head out.

    Then in August, Vona was called again to deploy last-minute to Afghanistan to help with the withdrawal of troops. Despite it being stressful for his family, Capt. Vona said that he was glad to have gone.

    "I'm glad I was a part of it," Capt. Vona said. "With the unit that I have, and the unit that I'm with, I'm happy to be part of history."

    The Vonas have been married for seven years and met while both were serving in the Army. Since they married, they have been stationed together in Germany and Capt. Vona has deployed several times. When their daughter, Kathryn, was born last year, Kristen Vona became a stay-at-home mom.

    Vona Homecoming 56"Overall, it's been a wonderful experience. Things are difficult sometimes for sure, especially on the family," Kristen Vona said. "But I really enjoy being home now with the girls to kind of give them some stability. So, we are enjoying the dynamic that we have now."

    For the past two years, Vona herself has been part of her husband's battalion through her role as the Family Readiness Group (FRG) leader.

    The battalion commander typically selects a family for nomination for Family of the Year; then, the family needs the brigade commander's endorsement. The family nominated then must fill out a packet and interview with senior leaders at Fort Bragg.

    One of the questions the Vona Family was asked was to pick a word that describes their family.

    Their word was "teamwork."

    "One thing I think that we do really well in our marriage is work together for like everything. So, Sam is very involved with our family, and I'm very involved in his unit and what he has going on. I would like to say that we're very interchangeable at home, and I'm really thankful for that," Kristen Vona said. "I just think we work really, really well together. And people have commented on that like friends and like within the military community, people have commented on how much we're on the same page and really work together well."

    Fort Bragg announced the Family of the Year at the annual Tree Lighting on the installation, Dec. 3. Capt. Vona said that he expected to be in the top five families, but not the family of the year.

    "They announced the top five guys going from five, four, three, two. And I was kind of surprised that we weren't in the top five. I figured that's where we would be," Capt. Vona said. "So, I was a little surprised when they announced number two, and I was like, OK, well, I guess we didn't make the top five tough competition out here. And then they announced us, and we were totally shocked."

    They said their five-year-old daughter, Presley, loved the applause they received.

    "They handed her the trophy, and she held it up in the air for a picture," Kristen Vona laughed as she told the story.

    Vona Family

    For the family, the entire experience has been humbling.

    "It was a really big honor. It's been a long time of putting in a lot of hard work towards the unit, not even just the one we're in now, but previous units we've been in, and so it's just really awesome to be recognized for the work we have put in," Kristen Vona said. "We're just super honored to be selected. So, it was very humbling."

  •  The Next Three Days (Rated PG-13)  4 stars

    The Next Three Days (122 minutes) is actually a remake of a French movie, which totally makes sense after seeing it. Director Paul Haggis manages to capture something not quite American, although most of the famed French subtly is missing. The plot, as presented, is fairly direct.

    12-22-10-movie-review.gifLara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) looks good as a blonde. In the opening scenes she manages to project a general irritation common to the privileged pampered higher-ups when they are faced with completely inferior examples of whatever it is they think they are. It turns out that her general irritation is focused on her sister-in-law Erit (Moran Atias) for having opinions that she does not agree with. Her defensiveness apparently stems from a fight with her own female higher-up earlier that day, and the argument currently ruining a pleasant meal involves the opinion that women should not work for women, but that any other combination is OK.

    Not to sell out my feminist roots, but I have heard endless horror stories about psychofemme bosses crapping on their employees AND I have experiences that involve subordinate women smiling to my face to distract me from the knife they are sliding into my spine. But let’s keep our perspectives … a bad boss is a bad boss, and that has nothing to do with gender. A lousy employee is a lousy employee, whether they’re working for a man or a woman. And since sucking at your job seems to occur regardless of how many X chromosomes you carry, Erit can be safely ignored. The fact that Lara needs to argue with someone who she doesn’t like, respect, or need to see more than occasionally says more about her own self-righteousness than it does about anything else. It also serves as a pretty character-establishing opening scene, since she goes from nearly punching her sister-in-law to a little after dinner make-out time in her husband’s ridiculously tiny front seat.

    Anyway, the next day Lara and her husband John (Russell Crowe) are enjoying a leisurely upper-middle-class breakfast. They are doing that thing where parents take a picture at the same time every day so they can digitalize the image and have 10 years of growth distilled into one minute of footage that illustrates how your kids looked before, and after, they started to hate you.

    It turns out they didn’t need nearly that much footage. Luke (Ty Simpkins) is seconds away from severe maladjustment and the loss of a happy childhood, since once the police break in and arrest mommy for murder they might as well buy the kid a stripper pole so he can start practicing for when he hits18.

    Thankfully, we do not have to sit through a big complicated trial scene. All the evidence points towards Lara’s guilt until even her lawyer (Daniel Stern) isn’t willing to pursue appeals. Lara takes the news hard, which sets John off on a Quixotic journey to learn how to make a bump key, break into and out of a Pittsburgh jail, create a scrapbook/ escape plan on his office wall, liquidate his assets, get fake identification, destroy a meth lab, and ruin his child’s chances for a life that even slightly approaches normal. Also, Liam Neeson shows up! Wouldn’t it suck if it turned out Lara was guilty all along?

  • manicureLa'reine Nailz Bar & Spa at Cross Creek Mall celebrated its grand opening on Dec. 17th.

    Glenise Lesane, the new La'reine Nailz Bar & Spa owner, grew up fascinated with nail art.

    "I had an aunt that would apply acrylic to her nails, and she explained to me what she was doing. As I grew older, I would join my older cousins when they would go to their nail appointments," Lesane said. "Watching this take place [right] before my very eyes was amazing to me, and I knew that nails was what I wanted to do."

    Lesane was licensed in 2003 from Sheer Pleasure Academy and is also a licensed cosmetologist.
    La'reine Nailz Bar & Spa may not have been able to open their doors if not for the support offered by North Carolina Center for Economic Empowerment and Development (NCCEED).

    "They provided me with the tools needed to invest into my business and assisted me with financial planning," said Lesane.

    NCCEED began in 1990, and its mission has been to promote growth, productivity, well-being and the economic development of small businesses throughout the Sandhills Region of North Carolina. NCCEED accomplishes this through counseling, education, information and advocacy programs. NCCEED works with other community agencies to achieve this goal and has a solid history of helping women and families through specialized programs. These programs include the Small Business Administration's Women's Business Center Program, credit counseling, financial literacy training, and one-on-one consulting. NCCEED also offers a loan program, microloans and assistance with grant programs available through the City of Fayetteville.

    The NCCEED office is located at 230 Hay St. in the heart of downtown Fayetteville.

    Sara Marada became a member of The Women's Business Center of Fayetteville at NCCEED in November 2020. As a business consultant, she helps clients during different stages of their business development plans. She focuses on sharing the skills needed to build their customer base through the art of lending.

    "We strive to support the start and growth of all small businesses and their owners," said Marada. "Our services are provided at no cost to our clients, thanks to funding provided by the Small Business Administration, The City of Fayetteville and various channels such as community donations, pledges, fundraising and government grants." Marada, through her role at NCCEED, helps businesses in finding funding opportunities.

    "Through NCCEED's ability to support clients through the application process for various sources of funding and financial support," Marada said. "I helped Glenise locate and obtain approval for the funding she needed to help start, supply and establish her business.

    The purpose of the funding secured by La'reine Nailz Bar & Spa is to help grow the local economy.

    "Glenise was able to access funding designed to spark the growth and economic impact within our city, which helped her bring her services to the Cross Creek Mall located right here in Fayetteville," said Marada.

    With the new shop's location in Cross Creek Mall, LEsane hopes to take advantage of the mall foot traffic.

    "It is an ideal place because there are so many different types of patrons that shop the mall," Lesane said. "So, my business will not just service one type of clientele."

    La'reine Nailz Bar & Spa will be offering manicures, pedicures, gel polish, dips and powders, artificial nails and the latest trends in nail art, specializing in natural nails.

    "La'reiene means queen in French. So, my nail and spa bar will make my clients feel like the queen or king that they are," Lesane explained.

    Her goal is to help support her clients' sense of well-being through self-care.

    "People (not just women) need an outlet to feel better about themselves, especially now," Lesane said. "Mental health is important. So, if a new coat of gel polish or a new set of nails can help someone feel a little bit better, then I feel like I have done my job."

  • Truck StopThere will soon be a new kid on the 1300 block of Morganton. The Haymount Truck Stop has traveled a long road to reach its Dec. 8 groundbreaking.

    When two entrepreneurs, active duty Fort Bragg soldier Jordan Sherrod and his business partner, Chris Beaty, began brainstorming their new business, the idea was simple; create an ideal patio space.
    With a cold season that lasts a little over two months, Fayetteville generally boasts warm and temperate, although famously erratic, weather.

    “Since I have moved here, I have noticed the weather is great... ten months out of the year, but there is no patio space; there is no good patio location,” Sherrod said.

    And so, Sherrod and Beaty set out to fill that niche; to create an outdoor gathering space that promises to offer the prime patio experience, Haymount Truck Stop.

    Planned as a unique culinary and entertainment experience, Haymount Truck Stop will be a landing pad for a maximum of four food trucks and offer patrons a bar, an arcade and an outdoor gathering space set for private events and yoga classes.

    The venue will also provide food truck vendors with a limited commissary kitchen, storage space and electrical hookups.

    Sherrod and Beaty have carefully chosen the future home of the Haymount Truck Stop. Located at the former Haymount Auto Shop, on the corner of Morganton and Broadfoot, Haymount Truck Stop should complete its metamorphosis by the spring.

    When Sherrod and Beaty first began their Haymount Truck Stop journey, they encountered unexpected obstacles. As city code stood last spring, food trucks could not be situated within 100 feet of another restaurant and needed to be 50 feet from one another. This code created a problem with their location, which is just under an acre; they only had space for two food trucks under the preexisting city code. So, Sherrod, Beaty and their project manager Stephanie Pirruccello set out to reshape the rules for themselves and future businesses like them.

    “I actually physically wrote a new law,” Sherrod said.

    He created the rewritten ordinance in the fall and submitted it to the city, but the process did not end there. It passed through many different departments throughout the city.

    “I submitted a version, and then the city took that and rewrote it to fit within code,” said Sherrod.

    The question was, how could the rules be written to allow a space’s primary function and purpose to be food trucks, and how could the Haymount Truckstop provide a safe and city-compliant environment for their patrons.

    To meet this challenge, Sherrod took code from other areas, other cities and reworked what had been written in different places to create a version of a new city code that might allow for more food trucks in smaller areas.

    Then the city passed this new law through each relevant department, which made appropriate adjustments.

    The city as a whole helped the Haymount Truck Stop craft an ordinance that was both safe and workable.

    The process took several meetings before the new codes were ready for a vote.

    Sherrod and Pirruccello credit the city staff for their help, support and moving the new ordinance through the planning commission.

    Alicia Moore, a senior planner, was assigned to help Haymount Truck Stop through the process.

    “Alicia Moore helped us navigate the entire process of requesting the inclusion of Food Truck Courts in the city’s Unified Development Ordinance. Her robust knowledge of the city’s regulations and requirements for zoning, planning, parking and safety was invaluable and ultimately helped us secure the City Council’s approval,” Pirruccello said. “We couldn’t have done it without her!”

    The benefit to the community will stretch beyond the Haymount Truck Stop.

    According to Sherrod, the City of Fayetteville has incorporated a multi-food truck function into their discussions about a maker space at the Murchison Gateway. The Fayetteville City Council unanimously agreed in early August to explore the possibilities of a maker space at the junction where Rowan Street, Bragg Boulevard and Murchison Road meet.

    Sherrod hopes the possibilities won’t end there.

    “We have a mentality of a rising tide lifts all ships,” Sherrod said. “I am very pro-business. I have an MBA in entrepreneurship. I love business. I love business owners; helping them out and doing what I can to help things to grow.”

  • WreathsApproximately 7,540 wreaths will make their way to the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake, on Dec. 18. The wreaths will be placed on the graves at the cemetery for National Wreaths Across America Day.

    What started as a quiet tribute from a wreath maker to the veterans at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992, National Wreaths Across America Day has grown in size, encompassing more than 2,500 locations in all 50 states.

    "My favorite part (of the day) is seeing the joy and hearing it in the loved ones' voices when people thank us for remembering and honoring their loved one," said Ann Provencher, Wreaths Across America coordinator for the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery.

    Provencher has been with the organization for 11 years. This year is her third year as coordinator. The local chapter of Wreaths Across America was started by Gold Star families in the area. As more help was needed, Rolling Thunder North Carolina Chapter 1 stepped in to help. Provencher also serves as the Chapter 1 Chairman of the Board.

    "It is often said a person dies twice. First when they leave this world and again when they are forgotten," she said. "Too many of our heroes no longer have family in the area, or the family members have health issues that prevent them from being able to be there in person or no living family to visit them. It's our duty to make sure they are remembered."

    Wreaths Across America's mission statement is to remember, honor and teach. They remember veterans from the Revolutionary War to present and honor veterans by laying wreaths at cemeteries across the United States. The organization teaches future generations about the cost of freedom and "the importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect those freedoms," according to their website, www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. The organization's website offers downloadable activities for kids to learn the importance of honoring the nation's veterans.

    Wreaths are laid on veterans' headstones as part of the National Wreaths Across America Day ceremony, which will take place on Dec. 18 at noon at the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery; mask-wearing is encouraged for this event. This year, the ceremony will welcome Lt. Gen. Walter Gaskin, Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, and the Hon. Ronald J. Rabin, retired U.S. Army Col., as guest speakers. Once the ceremony is over, attendees are invited to help place the wreaths on headstones. There is a specific way to lay the wreath, Provencher explained. The wreaths are placed at the bottom of the headstone with the ribbon at the top. The person laying the wreath should say the veteran's name out loud and pay their respects. Some of the wreaths are donated for a specific veteran by family members, and Provencher said they work hard to make sure the family members are the ones who lay the wreaths on their veteran's headstone.

    Wreaths Across America is always looking for volunteers. The Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery Wreaths Across America committee currently has five people, but Provencher said more are always welcome.

    "Just think of what we could do if more people were helping," she said.

    People are needed to help set the event up, clean up after and deliver the wreaths to the cemeteries. This year, the wreaths will be picked up at the Spring Lake Fire Department at 9 a.m. on Dec. 18 and conveyed to the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery. Trucks will be needed to help deliver more than 7,500 wreaths. Provencher stressed the importance of having enough vehicles to carry the wreaths to their destination. Rolling Thunder North Carolina and the local highway patrol will be escorting the convoy to the cemetery. Additional wreaths will be taken to the Main Post Cemetery at Fort Bragg.

    To locate a veterans cemetery where National Wreaths Across America day ceremonies take place, visit the organization's website and type in the name or location of the cemetery. Wreaths can be sponsored individually or through a sponsorship group. Sponsorship groups can be created by contacting Trish Gardner at tgardner@wreathsacrossamerica.org.

    Wreaths Across America hosts events throughout the year to help fundraise for National Wreaths Across America Day. This year, the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery Wreaths Across America group will be offering a weapon raffle. Tickets can be purchased at the ceremony on Dec. 18 and throughout the coming months. The winner will be announced at the second Annual Golf Tournament, held Apr. 2, 2022, at Anderson Creek Club Golf Course. For questions regarding the golf tournament, call Bobbi Younker, Golf Tournament Chair, at 301-752-0093.

    "One of the most asked questions we get is, why we utilize donated funds toward wreaths to place on veterans' graves instead of using it for living veterans," said Provencher. "I will share this response from Gold Star Mother Diana Unger Pitts:

    "I have thought about this over the 15 years my son has been gone. For me, it's amazing to see the living veterans' tears as they are able to place a wreath on their fallen brothers’/sisters' grave, say their name and salute them. Telling me, I promised I would never forget them. It's knowing a mother who understands her son is here, and she and her family will honor him all year while a young man just like him, killed in action many decades ago, has no living family. The mother chooses to place a wreath on that young man's grave instead of her son's because she wants to be sure she is doing [this] for his mom. Never forgetting her son's sacrifice.

    It's coming together as friends and family for the love of freedom, country, sacrifice and honor that our military provides."

  • Fiveash Randy 3 cropRandy Fiveash, Interim President and CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is a born leader. This is evident by the number of high-powered positions he has held within the tourism industry over the past 40 years.

    Hailing from Macon, Georgia, Fiveash is a graduate of Mercer University where he majored in political science with a double minor in history and psychology. He went on to earn a Master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University. Fiveash and his wife, Shari, have five children who live across the United States.

    His first position in the tourism industry was in Myrtle Beach. Fiveash went on to serve as executive director of the National Tourism Foundation and served in CEO positions with the Convention and Visitor Bureaus in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Arlington, Texas, Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Branson, Missouri. He was responsible for handling an annual multi-million-dollar budget as part of his job as Connecticut’s Tourism Director where he served for 13 years. Before his stint in Connecticut, Fiveash was Commissioner of Tourism for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In Kentucky, he led a successful, research-based “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” state-branding effort, with legislative, citizen and industry support and involvement.

    In addition to his many executive director and CEO positions, Fiveash was a delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism and has served in numerous leadership positions.

    These include the boards of Destinations International, National Tourism Foundation and the Mississippi River Development Association, Travel South USA, Discover New England, South Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri Convention and Visitor Bureau Associations, the Southwest Tourism Society and more.

    “I am fortunate to have been in great locations and have great experiences in all [of these] places,” Fiveash said.

    He was named the Interim President and CEO of the FACVB in May. Fiveash’s wife, Shari, took a job as the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in Fayetteville. The FACVB contacted Fiveash and asked if he would come and help.

    He will serve as the Interim President and CEO of the FACVB for an undetermined timeframe.

    “I will stay as long as they need me to and get the job done,” Fiveash said.

    FACVB’s goal is to help FACVB represent Fayetteville and Cumberland County as the strategic marketing arm of the community, for conventions, meetings, sporting events and leisure travel.

    “The great thing about Fayetteville is its diversity in people and things, from a lifestyle [and] quality of life standpoint. We have already made friends,” Fiveash said. “Everyone is very open and extremely welcoming. People are willing to give you advice, livability is phenomenal.”

    He has accomplished a lot in the seven months he has been President and CEO at FACVB.

    “I have been given relatively free reign to make changes and updates,” Fiveash said. “We never really knew who our customer was so a primary objective was to figure that out.”

    Using foundational tourism research and market survey, the FACVB is finding out who visits Fayetteville and who lives here. Stakeholders for the city share the demographics that make up their customers.

    The research will produce helpful and competitive data and is scheduled to be completed by Jan.1.

    There are some upcoming special changes to the organization.

    FACVB is hiring a new advertising team and are tracking research-based marketing. There is also rebuilding beginning at FACVB from a staffing angle; they are building a team.

    When able to, Fiveash is an adjunct instructor, teaching students about tourism.

    “I’ve been lucky that I have lived in places I have been able to teach,” Fiveash said.

  • 12-05-12-disney.gifHis classic black circle ears are instantly recognizable all over the globe. He is Mickey Mouse and he is the face of one of the most successful companies on the globe — Disney. Since it’s inception in the 1920s, Disney has steadily expanded into many different markets. Movies, music, television, theme parks and all manner of merchandise can all be found under the Disney umbrella. One of the most popular products Disney offers, however, is its ice-skating shows. Since 1981, the Walt Disney Company has connected with audiences all across the world through the magical antics of Disney characters on ice.

    This year Disney will present Rockin’ Ever After at the Crown, Dec. 12-16. The performance features many of the newer Disney characters such as Sebastian and the Daughters of Triton from The Little Mermaid, the rowdy pub thugs from Tangled and the spunky and enchanted servants from Beauty and the Beast competing to be the next big superstars. The performance is comical and makes the unique characters even more lovable, but it all culminates with the appearance of the Disney Princesses.

    This year Disney on Ice has added some of the newer princesses along with a few of the classic royal characters. Look for Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle and — in her Disney on Ice premier — Merida from Brave.

    When speaking about the newest Disney Princess’ arrival on the ice, producer Nicole Feld said, “The most exciting part of bringing a fearless and independent character like Merida to the ice for the first time is knowing that she has a powerful and inspiring message to deliver about finding the courage to determine one’s own fate. We think her story translates well to the ice and will really resonate with today’s audience.”

    The beauty of Disney on Ice is that as Mickey and Minnie travel to see these wonderful characters, each story is highlighted so that the audience can experience each character’s triumph. There is something for everyone here because so many stories are shown on the ice, and the energetic music and choreography keeps everything engaging and exciting.

    One of the performer’s in Rocking Ever After is North Carolina native Lauren McHenry. McHenry has been skating since the age of 7, and her dedication and skill has won her many different awards including representing the United States at the 2009 Prague Cup International Competition.

    “It is an incredible show! We are featuring Ariel, Rapunzel and Belle and their stories are all tied together with a talent show theme, based off reality show life on T.V. Mickey and Minnie are the hosts for the show. They are searching for the greatest talent in the land, and I am an ensemble skater so I am in all the numbers. I am also Arista, one of the daughters of Triton,” McHenry said.

    Disney on Iceis always family friendly and full of fun. There will be something there for everyone and it is not just for children, McHenry expresses this feeling by saying, “Everyone who has a chance should come and see it! There really is something for people of all ages. There is fantastic skating and cool special effects, great music that has been revamped and is more contemporary. Everyone should come and see it!”

    Disney on Ice Rocking Ever After will be at the Crown Coliseum from Dec. 12 - 16. Performances are at 7 p.m. Tickets are available through the Crown Coliseum at www.atthecrown.com.

  • The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers will join in song to bring Handel’s Messiah to Galatia Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Sunday, Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. It is the 6th Annual Messiah Sing, where everyone is welcome to bring their Messiah scores, sit in the audience and join in song together with the choir. Admission is free. 


    “We really encourage people to bring their scores, stand up and sit down with the choir where it’s appropriate, and
    sing along,” said Michael Martin,
    director of choral activities and music education at Methodist University and this year’s conductor.


    “Handel’s Messiah is kind of unique and non-unique at the same time in that — it’s a community sing, which is done all over the world,” said Martin. “Everybody knows the “Hallelujah” chorus, and we only do the first part because it follows the birth, life and death of Jesus, which is an appropriate part to do at Christmas time.    


    “I think it’s kind of right that the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers do this together, because they’ve been playing together for quite some time,” said Martin. “It’s good for the community to know that their arts organizations are working together and it makes for a big house.” 


    The partnership between the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers is actually broad and goes beyond the Messiah.“We do this, and then we do a large work in the Spring together,” said Martin. “We’re always trying to find opportunities in which the partnership will benefit both groups. They get a chance to pull some of our audience, we pull some of their audiences, and when we get together, we have both of our audiences sitting in the same place.”    


    Martin was appointed Artistic Director and Conductor of the Cumberland Oratorio Singers in 2008 and has been alternating with Fouad Fakhouri, another conductor in the music department at Methodist University, for the past five years. Due to the way the graduation calendar worked out last year for Martin, Fakhouri ended up conducting Messiah for the past two years in a row. Martin is excited to have the opportunity to conduct this year. 


    “The reason we do this is because we’ve always considered the Messiah Singto be a gift back to the community,” said Martin. “We don’t want money to be the reason people don’t come and experience this. 


    “We just want people to come,” Martin continued. “We want it to be a gift for the community, and we’ve always called it that.” 


    For more information, please contact: Julia Atkins, orchestra personnel and marketing manager for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, at P.O. Box 53234, Fayetteville, NC 28305 or jatkins@fayettevillesymphony.org. 


    The Galatia Presbyterian Church is located at 8800 Galatia Church Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28304.     

  • uac010114001.gif When you think of Bill Cosby, you probably get a smile on your face, The Cos, as he is affectionately referred to by his friends, is known for his colorful sweaters, quick humor, quirky dancing and to some — Jello pudding. Mostly, he is known for his comedy, which has kept people laughing for more than five decades. On Thursday Jan. 17, he will bring his style and humor to the Crown Theatre for a night of comedy and storytelling.

    Born William H. Cosby Jr., on July 12, 1937, he is a native of Philadelphia, Pa. While known for his educational and thought-provoking television shows, Cosby quit school following his sophomore year to join the U.S. Navy. While in the Navy, he completed high school via correspondence courses. Upon completion of his military service, he was awarded an athletic scholarship to Temple University. At Temple, he worked as a bartender to help pay his expenses. He was known for his quick wit, and following the suggestion of his customers, he tried stand-up comedy and was discovered by Carl Reiner.

    In ensuing years, he tackled a variety of mediums to share his quick wit, including stand-up comedy, television, cinema, books and albums. It was through the making of his comedy albums in the early ‘60s that he earned national acclaim. His award-winning albums introduced the country to his voice, but it was his role in I Spy that made him a household name and earned him three Emmy Awards.

    During this same time, Cosby continued pursuing his education, earning a doctorate in education, which helped form the social commentary that was at the heart of much of his work. In th01-01-14-bill-cosby.gife early ‘70s, he was one of the founding creators of The Electric Company, an educational children’s program that operated under the auspices of PBS. Kids raised in the ‘70s will remember the show, which used sketch comedy to develop grammar and reading skills. Cosby was joined on the show by Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno.

    Perhaps Cosby’s greatest claim to fame occurred during this time, when he introduced the world to many of his high school friends: Weird Harold, Dumb Donald, Mushmouth and, of course, Fat Albert. The highly successful Filmation cartoon was a staple of Saturday morning television from 1972 to 1984. Through Fat Albert, Cosby taught a generation about tolerance, how to say no to bullies and acceptance of those who are a little different from you.

    When Fat Albert wrapped in 1984, Cosby tackled his next big thing, which was the creation of the iconic The Cosby Show, which told the story of Heathcliff Huxtable, his wife Clair, and their children. The Cosby Show was an instant success, which stayed at the top of the ratings throughout its run. It spun off A Different World, which was to be a showcase for Lisa Bonet. Set on the campus of an historical African-American university, the show concentrated on education and young people. The show reflected the social consciousness that imbues Cosby’s art.

    Over the years he has appeared in many films, but has not gained the acclaim on the big screen that he did on television. A respected author, Cosby is at his best on the stage, which is where Fayetteville residents will have a chance to watch him shine during his Far From Finishedtour. Tickets range in price from $40 to $70 and are available via Ticketmaster and at the Crown Box Office. The show begins at 8 p.m. For ticket information, visit www.atthecrown.com.

    Photo: Funny man Bill Cosby is set to perform at the Crown on Jan. 17

  • uac120314001.gif First they brought us Scott McCreery for a night of country music. Their second show saw the touring phenom Sister Acttake the stage. Now for a third show, Community Concerts is bringing in another superstar performer — Trace Adkins.

    Adkins is a country music superstar in the purest sense of the word. Since his debut single, “There’s a Girl in Texas,” reached the top of the charts 18 years ago, Adkins has become one of the most successful country music artists of this era. He has released more than 10 albums and sold more than 7 million records. He has won CMT Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and been nominated for four different Grammy Awards.

    Adkins has even found success onscreen appearing in several movies such as the 2011 hit The Lincoln Lawyer. His most recent onscreen success came in 2013 when Adkins won the 6th Celebrity Apprentice competition on television raising more than $1.5 million for the American Red Cross in the process.

    On Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. at the Crown Theater, Adkins will debut his latest artistic endeavor to local audiences when his Christmas tour comes to town for the night. The Christmas Show tour kicked off on Nov. 12, and will run through nearly 20 cities before wrapping up on Dec. 21. The show in Fayetteville is the one and only show Adkins will perform in North Carolina during this tour.

    As the name of the tour implies, the show will feature a night of Christmas music performed with the trademark baritone voice that has made Adkins famous. The music performed is a mix of classic Christmas songs and music from Adkin’s 2013 Christmas album: The King’s Gift.

    The album that the upcoming show is based on is a departure from the style of music that has made Adkins famous. The music is deeply rooted in the old Celtic style of music. Adkins describes the music as, “the most beautiful thing that I have ever been a part of.” He elaborated on his motivations for taking on this ambitious musical endeavor

    .“I love this type of music and I always have. I don’t know what it is about that music, but it touches me in a primal place,” he said. “This was the first opportunity I ever had to actually perform that type of music. I get an incredible amount of gratification from it.”

    Considering the level of success that Adkins has been able to garner over his career, it was a bit curious that he chose to have The Christmas Show performed before such intimate audiences when he could easily fill substantially larger venues. Adkins explained his reasoning.

    “This is a theatre show. It is kind of like a one-man play, which is one of the reasons why I am a nervous wreck every night before I go out there,” he said. “It is not what I normally do, I usually just go out there and put my foot in the floor and do a 75 or 90 minute concert. This is different, it has narration — an actual script. This is such a different animal. It really lends itself to theatres.”

    As Adkins describes the show itself, his passion for the music becomes evident,.

    “Musically, this is the most beautiful project that I have ever been a part of. There is a 12-piece ensemble behind me, everything that you need for the Celtic feel. We wanted it to have that very traditional feel. If you had heard these old Christmas carols performed a hundred years ago, they probably would have sounded like this, as far as the instrumentation goes,” he explained. “That is really what we were shooting for.”

    He goes on to say, “I really enjoy doing this show. It makes me nervous and anxious about it every night, but I do enjoy doing it. Standing in front of that 12-piece ensemble every night to do this music is a thrill to me.”

    Adkins even hinted that this tour could become an annual occurrence in saying, “As long as I can sing these songs to level that I am happy with, I can see myself doing this tour for as long as I can do it.”

    Considering the population of Fayetteville and it’s military and blue collar roots, Adkins is very optimistic about how crowds will react to the show.12-3-14-trace-adkins.gif

    “They will love it! This is just old-school Christmas songs. The people of Fayetteville are the types of people that will have no problem calling it a Christmas show. It is not a holiday show, it’s a Christmas show.”

    Adkins is just as clear about what he would like for audiences to take away from the show itself.

    The King’s Gift, the title of the album, comes from the song ‘The Little Drummer Boy.’ He goes to see the newborn king and he has no expensive gifts to give but he does have his talent; which is to play the drum. That is what he gives, and that is my message to people. The best gifts we have to give to each other don’t have price tags on them. They are the gifts of time, talents and love... If this show doesn’t light the fire of your holiday spirit, then your wood is wet,” he said.

    After The Christmas Show, Community Concerts will be back at it after the turn of the year when they bring Dancing Pros Live to Fayetteville on Feb. 11, The Australian Bee Gees on March 25 and motown legend Smokey Robinson to close out the season on April 16. Tickets for the Adkins show, and the remainder of the Community Concerts season, are available now through Community Concerts’ website, Ticketmaster, and the Crown Complex Box Office.

  • Theatre FrontAfter nine months of renovation, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre is good to go. Demolition started in March, and everything is to be complete just in time for the "The Wizard of Oz" show in January.

    "We had our first indoor performance in 21 months on Dec. 4," Ashley Owen, marketing director at CFRT, said. "Our last performance inside our theater was March 15, 2020."

    The theatre's 285 seats are now wider with more legroom, but that is not all that has improved.

    "Renovation highlights include brand new seats that are wider, rows that are deeper, a brand-new sound system designed by TONY-Award winning Sound Designer Rob Kaplowitz," said Owen. "There also is a new fresh-air intake HVAC, upgraded energy-efficient lighting, new flooring, new paint and upgraded ADA accessibility. Pretty much, if you can name it, it's new."

    Marc de la Concha, the education director at CFRT, has been at the theatre for two and half years.

    "CFRT is special because of the relationship we have with our community," de la Concha said. "Whether here as audience members, class participants or volunteers, the theater is always full of people who share their love and passion for the arts."

    "People come back to the theater because our productions are the perfect blend of local and out-of-town talent. Each production that we present is an entirely new experience in terms of content, diversity and talent," de la Concha said.

    Owen agrees, "CFRT is special in so many ways. We are a professional theater that is deeply rooted in its community, and you can feel that when you walk in the front doors. It has a magical essence to it that sticks with you the entire time you're there."

    The productions at CFRT are home-grown, providing the community with unique and quality events.

    "People should come to the CFRT because the performances you see on our stage are created here and feature people who live and work in this community," Owen said.

    The theater offers unique quality shows for value and honors military and educators.

    "Depending on the show and the night you come, tickets range from $15-$32. $32 is our top ticket price.

    We have military discounts for every performance and host military appreciation nights where tickets are 25% off for service members. We also host educator appreciation nights where educators receive 25% off ticket prices," Owen said.

    Productions are not the only thing that CFRT offers the community. There are multiple classes for various ages, summer and single-day camps for children and special educational programs for military children.

    "In addition to our productions, we offer a wide range of educational opportunities for all ages," de la Concha explained.

    The CFRT has a range of programs scheduled for 2022. Based on the classic film everyone knows and loves, the 60th Anniversary Season at CFRT will kick off with "The Wizard of Oz" featuring a cast with both new and familiar faces and amazing special effects, including flying characters and pyrotechnics.

    The "Wizard of Oz" runs from January 20, 2022, to February 1, 2022. CFRT will follow that up with "Welcome to Arroyo's" (March 10 - 27, 2022),"Clue" (April 7 - 24, 2022), and "The Color Purple" (May 5 - 29, 2022.)

  • Christmas Giveback Flyer"Blessings are cyclical; they will always come back in a cycle," says 22-year-old Victor "Vic Blends" Fontanez.

    Fontanez recently amassed 10 million followers on Tik-Tok's video platform and sat with mogul Nick Cannon for an in-depth interview.

    During this interview, Fontanez discussed his motivation for inspiring millions with videos during which he cuts random strangers' hair while getting to know them.

    In his interview with Cannon, Vic Blends wore a blue Fayetteville State University hoodie as an ode to his hometown, Fayetteville. The South View High School graduate believes the community is the foundation that built his career.

    "We all have big dreams, hoping to be globally known for what we do, but that starts with first being a pillar in your community," Fontanez said.

    Last year, Fontanez, along with The Two-Six project, founded by 24-year-old Morehouse College graduate Grant Bennett, provided free clothing, toys, food, and haircuts to more than 1000 families in the greater Fayetteville area with their annual Christmas Giveback.

    For Fontanez, the giveback furthers the notion that his purpose is far greater than haircuts.

    He is grateful for the amazing career and abundance of opportunity but feels it is worthless if it is not used to make an impact.

    Christmas Giveback returns this year at Segra Stadium, home of the Houston Astros affiliate, Fayetteville Woodpeckers, on Dec. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas Giveback will provide free haircuts, toys, clothing, food and entertainment for the community. In addition, there will be resources to assist with rent and utilities, baby needs and free cell phone service.

    "I want to show kids you can do great things, regardless of your occupation," says Fontanez.

    So, this year, he has partnered with another Fayetteville native, Grammy-nominated musical recording artist Morray.

    In an Instagram caption, Morray writes: "I love giving back to my people...I remember when I didn't have it, and I never want anyone to feel like that so we going up yall!! 2-6." He never forgets where he came from.

    Before Thanksgiving, Morray was spotted filming a music video in the same apartments where he shot the video for his megahit "Quicksand" with a crowd from his hometown. Back in August, the Morray partnered with Cora's Community Foundation to host Everybody's Family Reunion and NZone Social Venue. They distributed over 800 bookbags before the start of the school year.

    Through collaborative efforts with community partners like Cora's Community Foundation; Empact One Foundation; Serenity's Grace; and Lifeline Assistance Group, Fontanez and Bennett plan to expand on the impact of the Christmas Giveback event. This year's event is sponsored by Adidas, Nike, Jordan Brand and Yellow Crayons, to name a few. Entertainment for the entire family will include music by D.J. Ricoveli, face painting by Falcon Focus, and a number of surprises.

    For those that want to donate to Christmas Giveback, drop-off locations will be set up at the Cool Spring Downtown District’s office 222 Hay Street and Rude Awakening Coffee House at 227 Hay Street. Follow @vicblends, @twosixproject, @djricoveli, and @undergroundkeem on Instagram for more information.

    Salute to everyone involved with the Christmas Giveback and every activist getting active. Peace.

  • 120215_cover.png

    Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Trees, lights, candles, music, stockings, gifts and sweet treats adorn households everywhere in anticipation of the holidays. 

    Christmas continues to be an all-time favorite and the Woman’s Club of Fayetteville loves it, too, which is why the group hosts its annual Christmas Tour of Homes. This year, it falls on Sunday, Dec. 6 from 1 – 6 p.m.  

    “This is something we have had for the last 15 years and it is our big fundraiser of the year,” said Elaine Kennebeck, president of the Woman’s Club. “We have to keep the historical buildings of Heritage Square maintained and preserved.” 

    Kennebeck added that every year they have better attendance because people look forward to the home tours and they are the only ones doing something this large.    

    The addresses of the seven homes on the tour are:  

    • The Sandford House (circa 1797) and the Oval Ballroom (circa 1818) located at 225
    Dick Street

     • Joshua and Adam Gray-Heim at 118 Hillside Ave.

     • Lynn Pryor and Bob Dees at 647 Brandts Lane

    • Tim Edwards and Bill Jordan at 114 Hale Street

     • Stephanie and Mamo Meaza at 3004 Rathburn Court

     • Carol Ann and Lockett Tally at 2222 Bayview Drive
    • Private Haymount Residence at 1414 Raeford Road

    “The homes this year are fabulous and probably the nicest homes that we have ever had,” said Kennebeck. “It has gone from years ago asking people to show their homes and hoping they would follow through and now we already have four houses waiting for next year’s home tour.” 

    Kennebeck added that people are calling the club wanting their home on the Christmas tour. The event has been very successful the last couple of years. She would like to raise $10,000 this year. 

    The Woman’s Club of Fayetteville was organized in 1946. The organization is responsible for Fayetteville’s first public rest rooms, teachers’ first retirement plans and many other projects. 

    “Our only mission is to preserve and maintain the historical homes of Heritage Square,” said Kennebeck. “We recently had a silent auction to help bring in funds.” 

    The homes of Heritage Square are the Sandford House, the Oval Ballroom and the Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House. The Sandford House is the largest house and was rented in 1941 by the Woman’s Club from its owners. It was used as living quarters for single working women in the city. It was also used as a space for women’s organizations to meet. Soldiers would spend time at the Sandford House fellowshipping with the women and their friends. The house has an assembly room which is used as a meeting place for the Woman’s Club. 

    “Many families have lived in the Sandford House and it has so much history,” said Kennebeck. “It used to be the Second Bank of the United States and a boarding house for young ladies coming into town to work at the court house or doctor’s offices.”  

    The Oval Ballroom was donated to the Woman’s Club by Mrs. M. B. McLean and the main purpose of the building has become a photo-op for brides. It is furnished by pieces donated by the Colonial Dames. The unique structure is an elongated octagon on the outside and a perfect oval on the inside. It is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. 

    “The Oval Ballroom used to be the dining room on the Halliday House,” said Kennebeck. “It was renovated about 12 years ago by the Colonial Dames.” 

    The Woman’s Club owns the building but the Colonial Dames are responsible for the renovations and upkeep of the house. 

    The Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House, an example of Georgian architecture, was built in 1804 and is believed to have been built by ship builders from the north who came down south in the winter to build homes. The house has a beautiful circular staircase that winds to the second story. 

    “Nothing had been done to this house for years and years,” said Kennebeck. “When I became president, I took this on as a project for the club to raise enough funds to renovate that house.” 

    Kennebeck added that they have basically rebuilt the entire outside of the house, which now boasts a new roof, new siding, painting and new front and back porches. The Woman’s Club would eventually like to lease the house to a law firm or a restaurant so they will have a monthly income from that property.         

    The club’s main goal is to renovate the exterior of the Sandford House because it needs a lot of work. 

    “We don’t get any money from the state or local government at all,” said Kennebeck. “We have a couple of small grants we get each year and the rest is dues and donations.” 

    Tickets for the Christmas homes tour are $15 and can be purchased at The Pilgrim in Westwood Shopping Center, the Woman’s Club at Heritage Square, Bell’s Seed Store, City Center Gallery and Books, High Cotton Consignment, J. Co. Salon & Blo’ Dry Bar and the featured homes on the tour.  

     “We look forward to a huge turn out for our tour of homes this holiday season because this year is going to be absolutely fabulous,” said Kennebeck. 

    For more information about the tour or other upcoming events, visit www.womansclubfay.org or call 705-7338. 

  • 120915-cover.png

    For many, the holiday season just isn’t complete without a performance of Peter Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet. There is still time. The North Carolina State Ballet, under the direction of Fayetteville’s own Charlotte Blume, will perform this holiday classic at the Crown Dec. 12 and 13.

    The cast consists of 60 dancers as well as guest artists. This marks the 39th consecutive year that the North Carolina State Ballet has performed The Nutcracker in Fayetteville. The performers start preparing for this production in late summer. The standards set by the Charlotte Blume School of Dance are rigorous and that reflects in the performance. While things stay busy at the studio year-round, this is an especially busy time of year and one that the dancers look forward to with great anticipation. “There is always an exciting cast for The Nutcracker. We have four guest artists this year as well as a sterling local cast that have been doing this for several years,” said Blume. “That makes it an especially exciting program.”

    The classic story remains unchanged, however, two new backdrops will grace the stage, bringing an updated look to this favorite. Local artist Cindy Slappey and her former student Caroline Geiger designed the backdrop for Act II. Featuring the Land of Sweets and the Castle of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the backdrop brings a fresh perspective to the performance. Jennifer O’Kelly of O’Kelly Designs created the Act I backdrop. A graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, O’Kelly’s backdrops have been featured in the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Public Broadcasting Service’s “Great Performances” and the Toronto International Ballet. 

    The Nutcracker is set in the 1800s. A young girl named Clara receives an enchanted Nutcracker from Herr Drosslemeyer, her godfather. As she drifts off to sleep snuggling the nutcracker, Clara’s adventures are just beginning. She faces the Mouse King and his army. The brave nutcracker conquers the Mouse King in a duel. 

    Now, transformed into a prince, the nutcracker and Clara meet the Snow King and Queen. Amid the falling snow and dancing snowflakes, Clara and the nutcracker prince are off to their next adventure.

    Act II takes them to the Crystal Palace, which is filled with dancing insects and butterflies. Here, the Sugar Plum Fairy listens to their adventures and hosts a festival for her guests. The Sugar Plum Fairy joins in a waltz with her court of flowers. Clara and the prince are delighted and impressed. As the event winds down, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Uncle Drosselmeyer grant Clara a Christmas wish and transform her into a beautiful woman so she can dance in the arms of the prince. Then Clara awakes. It is Christmas morning and the nutcracker is nestled safe in her arms.

    Guest artists perform the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. On Dec. 6, Alicia Fabry took the role of Sugar Plum Fairy. Fabry grew up in France and studied at the English National Ballet School in London. This is Fabry’s sixth season dancing with the North Carolina State Ballet. Marcelo Martinez was her Cavalier. Martinez hails from Paraguay and is returning for his second season with the North Carolina State Ballet. Previously, he trained at companhia Jovem do Teatro Mumicipal do Rio de Janerio and the Washington Ballet.

    Fabry returns as the Sugar Plum Fairy for the Dec. 12 and 13 performances and Adam Shiffer plays Cavalier. Shiffer is from Budapest, Hungary and graduated from the Hungarian Dance Academy. He has toured and performed in Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy and France. This is his second appearance with the North Carolina State Ballet.

    Daniel Moore performs Drosselmeyer. “Little Clara” is alternated by Emily Rogers and Katherine Sullivan. “Clara Grown Up” is danced by Tiffany Alexander with Daniel Rivera as the “Nutcracker Prince”. The “Pas de Duex” highlights Act I and takes “Clara” and the “Prince” to the “Land of Snow” and then to the “Land of Sweets.”

    The role of the “Snow Queen” is alternated by Deprecia Simpson and Sarah Middleton. The “Jewel” in “Waltz of the Flowers” is danced by April Glasper or Deprecia Simpson. The Arabian Dancer in “Coffee” is danced by Andrea Flores. 

    When Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky debuted this work at the Mayinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892, it was not well received. Even though he was commissioned by Marius Petipa, a well-known and much-loved choreographer, to compose a score adapted to E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the critics and the audience were not impressed. Despite their work together on the classic ballet Sleeping Beauty, Czar Alexander III seemed to be the only fan of The Nutcracker.

    Other artists saw the potential though, and in 1944, The Nutcracker opened at the San Francisco Ballet. Later, choreographer George Balanchine tweaked a few of the characters for the 1954 production when it premiered at the New York City Ballet. It was a smashing hit and claimed its place in America’s heart as a holiday tradition.

    The Nutcracker is on stage at the Crown Theatre Dec. 12-13. Performances begin at 3 p.m. All performances are directed by Charlotte Blume. General admission is $20; military rates are $18 and children’s tickets cost $7. Tickets are available at the Crown Complex Box Office, Capefeartix.com and by calling 888.257.6208. Find out more at http://crowncomplexnc.com.

  • runway.jpg

    It may not be fashion week in New York, but the catwalk is heating up in Fayetteville as An Affair to Remember, owned by Kathy Jensen, brings its annual Runway Extravaganza to the Crown. 

    The local dress shop strives to provide the community with beautiful and unique dress options for life’s most exciting and important events. But more than just beautiful dresses, Jensen and company want to help make beautiful memories.  

    “We want to give mothers and daughters who come here the opportunity to shop together. Some people even give certificates to their daughters, granddaughters and nieces when they don’t know what to get them,” Jensen said. 

    Perhaps one of the most memorable and exciting ways to experience the dresses that An Affair to Remember will offer this year is at its annual Runway Extravaganza at the Crown on Jan. 7 and 8.

    It is much more than a fashion show. It is a perfect opportunity for a girl’s night out. In addition to beautiful dresses, the show will have vendors, music and food. Collections from national designers are presented by local women. 

    Jensen explained, “We bring the latest prom fashions and formal wear for 2016 to the show. We will have local girls, our customers, as models. Miss North Carolina will model as well. Attendees can take a turn on the red carpet and have pictures taken. There are tables for a girls’ night out. Vendors will sell everything from clothing to jewelry to makeup and food. We will raffle three prom dresses. VIP seating in the front row is available and general admission is $10. This is really a first class fashion show,” she said.

    The Runway Extravaganza offers formal wear options for women and girls of all ages. “We offer clothes for girls from the ages of 6 to about 65 during the show. We will have a lot of traditional trendy prom dresses and some more sophisticated dresses as well, all of which are available in the store,” Jensen said, “This is a great night out, not just about prom. It’s for girls all around. Even younger girls will have a ball.” 

    Jensen also said that there are layaway options available for people looking to get a head start on their favorite dress. 

    This year the show will also feature formal wear for boys. “Last year we had boy’s clothing added at the last minute and it worked out really well,” Jensen explained. 

    The Runway Extravaganza will feature prom and formal wear from designers like Jovani, Sherri Hill and many more.  Jonathan Kayne from Project Runway will be on hand to present his newest designs. 

    The Runway Extravaganza is Jan. 7 and 8 at the Crown Expo Center located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. VIP seating is available. For more information, call 910-486-5323 or visit www.aatrnc.com. 

  •     {mosimage}The great, puncuation challenged poet ee cummings once wrote, “For every mile the feet go, the heart goes nine.”
        For Roberta Humphries, who is sponsoring the third annual Ryan’s Reindeer 5K Run — a race that she started in memory of her 18-year-old son, Ryan, who died of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — her heart has crossed the finish line a thousand times.
        “Ryan was very athletic,” said Roberta, “so I thought that this race would be a good way to remember him.”
        But let Ryan tell you in his own words. Three days before Ryan passed away at Duke University Hospital, he wrote these words from his hospital bed: “The cold sores are coming, I get feverish every couple of hours, and other than that my body is in sort of this slow down where I don’t feel like doing much of anything active. So do a favor for me, and whatever you’re doing today, just go out and RUN, somewhere, anywhere, just RUN because you can. Those are the things I miss, the things I have been raped of.  So protect them and nurture them while you are able. Don’t wait until you are 80 and the grains of sand are almost gone to begin to live. Make sure you use life as a means to live, not just as a means of postponing death. Don’t be afraid to live because sooner or later, the one chance you have is gone.”
        The race, which will be held Dec. 20 at 8:30 a.m. in downtown Fayetteville, honors Ryan by lining up legions of runners — more than 350 competed last year — and raising money to fight the disease that left him unable to run: Last year, more than $14,000 was raised to help fund the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation, Duke Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit, and Friends of the Cancer Center at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
        “I can’t say the race has given me closure,” said Humphries, “but it does give me some satisfaction knowing that this is something that Ryan would have definitely wanted.”
        The run will start and finish at the Medical Arts Building Parking Lot Entrance on Hay Street; the Medical Arts Building is located at 101 Robeson St. Prizes will be awarded to the top overall male and female finisher and the top three male and female finishers in the following age divisions: 13-19, 20-29, 30-39,40-49, 50-59 and 60-plus. Prizes will also be presented to the top three family finishers and the best costumed runners. A trophy will be presented to the group with the most number of participants. All under 13 participants receive a finisher’s award. Prizes will be awarded to the top three pet finishers and their owners. Packet pick-up and registration will be 5-8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 19 at the Clarion-Prince Charles Hotel, Azalea Room No. 1.
        “The run continues to grow every year,” said Humphries, who started the race with the aid of her husband, Paul Humphries. “The runners come from across the state and all of them have told me that it’s a great race.”
        Registration fee is $25 for individuals, which includes a T-shirt and reindeer ears, and $75 per family, which includes four T-shirts and four reindeer ears. Registration will be available on the day of race beginning at 7:30 a.m. On-line registration is available at www.active.com or www.runbecauseyoucan.com.
        Ryan’s book, Run Because You Can, My Personal Race with Cancer, has been published and is available for order at the Web sit www.runbecauseyoucan.com.
        “I know this is exactly what Ryan would have wanted,” said Humphries. “It’s a great cause in memory of a great kid.”
  • In all the hustle and bustle of the holidays it’s easy to yearn for simpler times when the gifts and decorations were more12-22-10-poe-house.gif homemade and handmade than commercial. While the celebrations of the early 1900s in North Carolina were elaborate, they were less manufactured than what is common today. Through Jan. 9, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is showcasing winter themed decorations of silver and white, Victorian-style, at the Poe House.

    Just like in times past when families worked hard to make their home a special place for the holidays, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex has decked not just the halls, but every room in this Victorian era home for the holidays.

    Based on articles and decorating ideas from early 1900s’ issues of Ladies’ Home Journal, the Christmas tree in the Poe House is adorned in garlands of silver paper chains, lace hearts, silver pinecones, icicles and other decorations.

    A hundred years ago in southern North Carolina, families used what was available to them to decorate their homes. They did this by bringing in a lot of the local foliage that they could find out doors. Things like pine branches, holly, magnolia, ivy, mistletoe and nandina were used to make wreaths, swags and other festive decorations. The Poe House follows suit and has wreaths on the windows and pine swags on the porch railings — and that is just the beginning.

    Inside, look for holly and poinsettias along with red ribbons and magnolia blossoms as part of the home’s decor for the Christmas season.

    “This is something that so many people just love coming to the house and seeing,” said Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex 1897 Poe House Education Coordinator, Heidi Bleazey. “The Christmas decorations really add to the grandeur of the house. This really is the best time of year to come and visit the Poe house, if you’ve never been before.”

    It’s taken about a decade, but the staff has the decorating process down to a science. “During the early years, there was a lot of grueling research,” said Bleazey. “And then we had to translate that into what we could reasonably find and do to replicate the decorations of that era.”

    Now it takes about five hours for four or five staffers to put the home together, and every year, even though it is tough work, the results are just stunning.

    The historical complex is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

    For more information, call (910) 486-1330 or visit www.museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov. Tours are offered on the hour Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

    Photo: Visitors enjoy Christmas decorations at the Poe House.

  • uac122111001.jpg If you have been looking to take a short day-cation, and you don’t want to break the bank, The Givens Performing Arts Center (GPAC) at the University of North Carolina in Pembroke, is an enjoyable and inexpensive getaway. Aside from the Givens Performing Arts Center reputation as one of the Southeast’s most prominent destinations for arts, culture and entertainment, the theatre also features many performances from Broadway, On Stage for the Youth, Distinguished Speakers and other special events and activities. “I go to a conference in New York every year and find out what shows are new, what shows are hot, what shows will fi t in our theatre, and that’s how we decide what to show to our audiences,” says David Thaggard, assistant director and booking manager of the GPAC.

    The Givens Performing Arts Center starts the New Year out right with the Broadway musical In the Heights, a 2008 Tony award winner for Best Musical, Best Orchestration, Best Choreography and Best Score. The musical tells a story of the vibrant community of Manhattan’s Washington Heights and its residents’ struggles, hopes, dreams and family traditions.

    In the Heights shows at the GPAC on Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. and ticket prices range from $15 to $45; $12 for a child or student; and $5 for UNCP students.

    If you prefer the symphony orchestra over Broadway, you’re in luck! The Tchaikovsky St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra performs at the Givens Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. These Russian composers’ repertoire range from the baroque era (Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Schnitke, Banshikov, Desyatnikov and Kancheli) through the classics of the 20th century.

    Tickets for the Symphony Orchestra cost $15 to $30; $12 for a child or student; and $5 for UNCP students.

    Aside from Broadway and the Symphony Orchestra, The Givens Performing Arts Center also welcomes the Winnipeg Ballet’s production of Moulin Rouge. On Tuesday, March 20, the prestigious ballerinas will take the stage and impress the audience with elegant choreography as they tell a12-21-11-cover1.jpgpassionate story of desire and despair during the turn of the century in Paris. While Broadway continues to be one of GPAC’s most popular events, “the ballets have done really well,” says Thaggard. “We’ve even been getting some dance classes in the audience from Fayetteville, like Seventy-First High School off of Raeford Road.”

    Admission to the ballet ranges from $15 to $30; $12 for children and students and $5 for UNCP students.

    Experience a new style of dance on April 24, with the production of Ballroom with a Twist. This show introduces a different genre of dance that is best described as traditional ballroom dancing infused with hip hop. Ballroom with a Twist features talented dancers from hit television series like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance? and from the hit film, High School Musical.

    The dancers hit the stage at 8 p.m. Admission costs $15 to $30 for adults; $12 for children and students and $5 for UNCP students. If you’re an avid Eagles fan and you’re in the mood to sit back, relax, and listen to some of their classic tunes, the Givens Performing Arts Center has the perfect show for you. Check into the Hotel California show on April 27 at 8 p.m. This tribute to the Eagles features the hits of the Grammy Award Winning musicians and will leave you wanting more.

    Admission to the Hotel California ranges from $15 to $30; $12 for children and students and $5 for UNCP students.

    12-21-11-cover-2.jpgIf you are in search for an educational program for your youth, the GPAC shows the children’s classic, Jack in the Beanstalk, on April 26 at 10 a.m. Tickets for this play are $7 for students; $8 for teachers and $10 for adults. The recommended ages for this performance are ages 4 and up.

    Another kid-friendly event coming up at the Givens Performing Arts Center is the Sing A-Long: A Sound of Music, which features the wide-screen showing of the classic Julie Andrews film complete with subtitles. In addition to the performance, look for a fancy dress competition where those in costume can come on stage and practice their vocals along with the subtitles.

    This event is on Feb. 4, and begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, $15, or $12 for students and children and $5 for UNCP students.

    Also coming in February, is distinguished guest speaker and author, Frank Warren. On Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m., Warren discusses his popular blog, PostSecret Project and his New York Times Best Seller book, PostSecret: Confessions of Life, Death and God. Not only will the audience get to see the internet’s fourth most infl uential person live, but this once in a life time event is also free of cost.

    The Givens Performing Arts Center attracts audiences from all over North Carolina explains Thaggard. “We draw our audience base from a 100 mile radius; Lumberton, Southern Pines, Fayetteville, and sometimes as far as Wilmington, Charlotte and South Carolina.” 

    He continues, “The Spring of 2012 is going to have a variety of shows that everyone can enjoy, from ballet, to symphony orchestra — and we’re right in the heart of your backyard, so we hope that everyone will come out and see them!”

  • You can always find a great party in Fayetteville, especially during the holi-days. This New Year’s Eve, there is plenty to see and do around town.

    If you are looking for something on a grander scale, the Dogwood Festival is hosting the annual Party in the Parkat Festival Park.12-28-11-celebrate-new-year.jpgThe event features live entertainment, a chili/chowder cook-off, activities, games and food and beverage vendors. Families are welcome and the kids are sure to enjoy the early count-down at 8:30 p.m. Another countdown fol-lows at midnight and a live feed from Times Square is visible on-stage throughout the evening. Find out more at www.faydogwoodfestival.com/new-years-eve.

    The Crown Center offers entertainment at its New Year’s Eve Party with a Purpose featuring guest per-former R&B artist Kenny Lattimore. The concert starts at 9 p.m. in the Crown Arena. Visit www.atthecrown.com for ticket pricing and more information.

    Before heading out to enjoy the entertainment, check out some of the local restaurants and enjoy a hearty meal. Here are a few suggestions for local restaurants providing fine-dining experiences. Circa 1800 is accepting reservations for a New Year’s Eve meal. Hilltop House, The Mash House and Pierro’s are all great pre-party dinner options as well.

    Lido’s has a New Year’s Eve Masquerade ball planned for party guests, along with a champagne toast at midnight. $10 advance tickets are available. Call 222-8237 to make a reservation.

    Huske Hardware House anticipates a great time with a champagne toast, balloon drop and countdown with Times Square to ring in the new year. For $8 get a fast pass and you’ll have access to Huske and Wet Willies the entire eve-ning. Vist Huske Hardware on Facebook to get more details.

    Hellas, Hope Mills’ newest night club, offers VIP packages and pre-sell tickets to its New Year’s Eve Bash. Party-goers can look forward to a performance by Strong Hold at 10 p.m. in the Sports Bar and a festive celebration to welcome 2012. Find out more at www.clubhellas.com.

    It’z Entertainment City’s New Years Eve party costs $15 and includes party favors, a champagne toast at midnight and entrance to the night club. Visit It’z on Facebook to keep up with all the happenings.New on Fayetteville’s nightclub scene, Club Barcelona has an indoor ball drop planned along with a show of indoor fireworks. Admission is $20. The doors open at 9 p.m.

    The Fayetteville FireAntz take on the Huntsville Havoc this New Year’s Eve at the Crown. The puck drops at 4 p.m. Enjoy a rousing hockey game before heading out to celebrate. Visit www.fireant-zhockey.com for more information.Celebrate the New Year family-style at Fort Bragg’s Dragon Lanes on New Year’s Eve. From 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. enjoy extreme bowling, hors d’oeuvres and party favors. It costs $15 for early-bird tickets and $25 at the door. Lanes will be shared. No refunds after Dec. 27. Call 907-BOWL for more information.

    Pope Lanes offers a family New Year’s Eve Party from 4-8 p.m. includ-ing unlimited bowling, shoe rental, non-alcoholic champagne, party favors and food. Early-bird tickets are $10 and regular tickets are $15. Lanes will be shared, no refunds after Dec. 27. Open to the public. Call 394-2891 for more information.

    After the parties have ended, head to the Crown on New Year’s Day for a Black-Eyed Pea Dinner, which starts at 11 a.m. and lasts until 2 p.m. There are sure to be plenty of friendly faces along with the great food. Visit www.atthecrown.com for more information.

  • Bundle up in your coats, scarves and gloves and get ready for a night of glitter and glam. Fayetteville/Cumberland Parks and Recreation is happy to announce the 3rd Annual Christmas in the Park Event.

    Just as in years past, everyone in town will be talking about the beautiful displays, the food, the shows and much more, when this event is over. The lights, the camaraderie, the chill in the air all come together to create a memory-making event. The Parks and Recreation staff wants everyone in Fayetteville and the surrounding areas to come out for a night and enjoy the light show along with lots of other special Christmas events. It will be a delightful way to spend the evening during this magical time of year.

    This event will be held Dec. 7-22. The fun starts at 6 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m. each evening at12-05-12-christmas-in-the-park.gifArnette Park.

    “Admission into the park is $2 per person and it allows you to walk around and view the lights as you walk along the path,” said Erica J. Brady, special events coordinator, Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation. Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the ½ mile paved walking trail while taking in the sights and sounds of the Christmas season. Along with the light show, there will be live performances on stage throughout the evening. The shows will display many of the talents and activities that are offered by our local recreation centers and Cumberland County Schools.

    Also, make sure to visit with Santa, as he will be there every night adding joy, cheer and laughter making it a festive time for everyone. For $5 attendees can even have a picture taken with the big guy. It is an opportunity to make great memories and start new traditions — or carry on old ones. There will be food vendors, arts and crafts, a fire pit and a train ride. For just $1, take the train ride to get a view of the sights that lay beyond the walking trail. The ride will be fi lled with even more Christmas scenery and good cheer.

    “The main focus of the event is out in the center of the walking trail. There displayed in the center will be a 30-foot decorated tree, surrounded by smaller trees and lights that will dance to the music,” said Brady. Whether young or old, this year’s Christmas in the Park will be fun for everyone in the family and offers plenty of opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit.

    Animals, other than service animals, are not permitted in the park. No personal cameras are permitted in the park. This is a cash only event; no credit/debit cards will be accepted. For additional information, call 910-433-1574. For inclement weather, call 910-306-7325.

  • 12 01 hope mills lakeProperty owners around Hope Mills Lake need to prepare for the chance to do any needed work on their docks and piers as town staff will be lowering the level of the lake starting Jan. 6.
    Last year’s lowering of the lake had to be delayed to coincide with planned work on the bulkhead on the public side of the lake.

    Don Sisko, head of the Hope Mills public works department, said the decision to wait was made to avoid having to lower lake levels twice.

    Reducing the level of the lake makes it easier for the property owners to get to their docks and piers during the two weeks the town plans to leave the water at a reduced level.
    But the water level isn’t just being decreased for the benefit of the property owners.

    Sisko said the town’s Lake Advisory Committee suggested dropping the lake levels in January to help stunt the growth of algae on rocks and other locations near the shoreline.

    “When we lower it in January, it exposes the marine algae that grows on the rocks near the edge,’’ Sisko said. “It gives it the opportunity to dry up, and the cold weather will kill it as well.’’
    Timing the process for January also has another benefit as it’s done when the lake sees limited recreational use.

    12 02 dam Sisko estimates that if there is no rain, once the process of lowering the lake levels begins on Monday, Jan. 6, it will take about two or three days to get the water down to the desired level.
    The goal is to drop the level about two or three feet, Sisko said. “My goal is not to lower it anymore than a foot a day,’’ he said.

    The process has to be regularly-monitored, Sisko said, because lowering the lake level is not an exact science.

    To be as accurate as possible, Sisko has developed charts dealing with amounts of precipitation, past lake levels and other factors.

    There’s one factor that Sisko said can’t be accurately measured. “It’s just like any other maritime project,’’ he said. “We all have to be mindful of the weather. That is one thing we can’t control.’’
    While the property owners can work on their piers and docks, Sisko said town staff will take advantage of the lowered lake levels to do some routine checks on the status of the dam.

    He said the town does regular maintenance on the dam and spillway structure year-round.

    But the lowered lake level makes it easier to check out special drains called tide flex drains.

    “They drain around the structure so we don’t have ponding water anywhere around the spillway or subterranean water around the spillway,’’ Sisko said.

    The lowered lake level lets town staff access the drains easier so they can be cleaned to maintain maximum operating efficiency.

    While he’s not concerned there are any specific issues being hidden by the normal lake level, Sisko said town staff will use the opportunity to make a routine check around the lake to see if anything is out or order and requires attention.
    “I don’t anticipate any problems,’’ Sisko said. “It’s just going to be an opportunity to see more of the dam structure.’’

    Sisko and his staff don’t use a boat to check things out. They walk downstream in the creek and along the dam surfaces as well.

    As far as the issues the lakefront owners have with their property in the water, Sisko said it is their responsibility to handle all those repairs as they see fit. He said property owners are welcome to reach out to the town manager if they see something they feel needs the attention of town staff.

    “We’ll take care of what we need to take care of,’’ Sisko said.

    If everything goes according to plan and there are no major disruptions from the weather, Sisko estimates the lake level will begin to be returned to normal around Monday, Jan. 20.
    If any property owners have questions about the lowering of the lake, they can contact Sisko’s office at 910-429-3384 during normal business hours Monday through Friday.

  • Anyone who has been in the south on New Year’s Day knows that just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west there will be pork, collard greens and black-eyed peas on the table come the first of the year. Serving anything else is just inviting bad luck. Combine this traditional meal with a huge helping of southern hospitality and you’ve got a Fayetteville tradition — the New Year’s Day Black-eyed Pea Dinner — which takes place the first of every year at the Crown from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    In the 1970s and ‘80s, then Sheriff Ottis F. Jones and local attorney, Willis Brown, hosted the meal. When Jones died in 1987 the black-eyed pea dinner came to an end as well. Fast forward to the early ‘90s when Register of Deeds Lee Warren took offi ce. Warren, his dad and his buddy Owen Spears were talking about how they could give back to the community. His dad tossed out the idea of bringing back the black-eyed pea dinner. The next dinner was hosted on New Year’s Day of 1993 and the rest is history.12-26-12-black-eyed-peas.gif

    Sure it’s a long day, but with the help of many friends, partners and volunteers it’s something that Warren looks forward to every year. “It is a time to start the year off right. It’s a terrific opportunity to share with others and one of those things we enjoy doing,” said Warren. “It takes probably 60-70 volunteers. There are a lot of the people that come out and assist us.

    “It is really a team effort, with many partners and volunteers involved,” he continued. “Many of them have been doing it for years and they look forward to it as much as we all do. It is a good southern tradition that we love to carry on. My family and I and Ed Grannis our long time district attorney and Billie West the new district attorney put the event on.”

    It is not unusual for more than 3,000 people to show up depending on what day of the week the New Year falls on.

    “With New Year’s being on Tuesday we’ll have a big crowd,” said Warren. “If it was on a Friday or a Monday a lot of people get that day tied in to a weekend and go out of town. When it falls on Sunday people come after church. When it is midweek not many people are out of town. I’m fairly certain there will be at least 3,000 there.”

    The meal is signifi cant in more ways than one. Not only is it a great chance for fellowship, greeting the new year and breaking bread with friends old and new, superstition has it that this is the meal that will determine how 2013 unfolds. Everything on the plate represents something for the new year.

    The pork promises progress. Pigs push forward when they forage for food, unlike other foraging animals.

    Black-eyed peas were once used as food for livestock. During the Civil War when Sherman’s troops plundered the south they destroyed all the crops except the humble black-eyed pea. That’s what got the Confederates through the winter that year. Because they are small and somewhat round, the legumes have also come to represent coins.

    Served with collard greens (or cabbage in some areas), which represents paper money and cornbread, which represents gold, it is defi nitely a good idea to clean your plate so your wallet will be full in 2013.

    The event is free and open to the public.

    Photo: A typical southern New Year’s Day dinner is filled with symbolism.

  • 12 01 jackie warnerHere are the top ten Hope Mills stories of the year as chosen by a panel of voters:

    1. Historic election

    In a historic night for the town of Hope Mills, the town turned its elected leadership to not one but two women.

    Mayor Jackie Warner, after a bitter campaign fight with sitting Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell, was returned to office for a fifth term, winning easily with 55.5%  of the vote.

    The history was made by Dr. Kenjuana McCray, an instructor at Fayetteville Technical Community College. McCray, as far as anyone can remember, became the first African-American female elected to the board, leading all candidates for town office this year with 792 votes.

    As a result of leading the ticket, she was installed as the town’s Mayor Pro Tem.
    12 02 kenjuana mccray
    2. Youth sports teams enjoy strong seasons

    It was a banner year for spring sports teams from Hope Mills. In a town that already has a rich youth sports tradition, the summer of 2019 made it even richer.

    Four teams from the town won state titles and advanced to World Series competition in different divisions of the Dixie Youth program.

    Taking state honors were the Dixie 14U boys of Richard Martinez, the 10U Dixie Softball girls of Doren Kolasa, the 8U Dixie Boys of Jesse Cox and the 12U Dixie Ponytails softball of Steve Welsh.

    The Cumberland Post 32 Bombers of Stan Bagley won the Lady Legion state softball title.

    3. Hope Mills Fire Department Honored

    The Hope Mills Fire Department won an award that went far beyond a plaque to put in a trophy case.

    The North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshall awarded the fire department a No. 2 rating.

    The rating, which took effect in August, is a plus for the town’s citizens and businesses as it means insurance premiums charged to them should be less because of the town’s high level of protection from fire.

    4. Mayor Warner, son Teddy exonerated

    The town’s Board of Commissioners lodged a charge of collusion against Mayor Jackie Warner and her son, Teddy Warner, when the latter made a presentation to the board in his role working for the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Commission.

    A board-authorized investigation, which wound up costing the town $26,000, was conducted by attorney James P. Cauley, an acknowledged expert in municipal law.

    Exonerating both the five-term mayor and her son, Cauley boiled the divide between the mayor and commissioners down to two factors. “It is attributable to a combination of rookie mistakes and changing governance policies,’’ he said.

    12 03 Hope Mills Dam5. Hope Mills Dam wins more honors.

    The restored Hope Mills dam won its second major award this past July.

    The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure presented the town with the Envision Bronze Award.

    The award is presented to projects like the dam on the basis of their resilience and sustainability.

    Since the dam has been restored it has been through two hurricanes, and the only significant damage sustained was to an eel ladder that allows  the animals to migrate around the dam structure.
    The dam’s first national award was in 2018.

    6. Arts Council created

    The new Hope Mills Creative Arts Council was established. One of its first acts was to partner with the Sweet Tea Shakespeare company and bring a live production of "Timon of Athens" to Carleen’s of Hope Mills.
    The production resulted in record ticket sales for a Sweet Tea production.

    7. Hope Mills leads in military recruitment

    According to Defense Department rankings for 2018, Hope Mills leads the nation in military recruitment.

    From a population of 2,322 candidates age 17-24, Hope Mills had 374 who enlisted last year.

    8. ALMS HOUSE has successful summer program

    The ALMS HOUSE of Hope Mills continued its string of successful outreaches to the community, mounting an important summer bag lunch program that provided an average of 20 bag lunches per week to children and some adults in need. Support through food and money donations from the community were essential.

    9. Heritage Park plan still on hold

    Work on the proposed Heritage Park development remains on hold. The land remains undeveloped as the Board of Commissioners focused more attention on the home of coyotes, Golfview Greenway, while both Heritage Park and the former Episcopal Church and its severely distressed parish hall remain untouched.

    10. Golden Knights come to Hope Mills

    The United States Army’s famed Golden Knights precision parachute jumping team made an appearance in Hope Mills, jumping in to help with the town’s observance of Heroes Homecoming.


    Picture 1: Mayor Jackie Warner

    Picture 2: Kenjuana McCray

    Picture 3: The Hope Mills dam won a second award in July. 

  • 13 01 jackie warnerA new era of government for the town of Hope Mills was unveiled on Thursday, Dec. 5, during a special organizational meeting of the newly-elected Board of Commissioners.

    The meeting was generally harmonious, with no bitter debate, and the commissioners acted swiftly to reverse actions of the previous board and restore powers that had been taken away from five-term mayor Jackie Warner.

    Before voting on restoring Warner’s powers, the board heard a brief presentation from town manager Melissa Adams concerning board policies and dos and don’ts for how the board and manager work together.
    There were multiple situations where the previous board overstepped its authority and engaged in activities reserved for the town manager.

    Adams shared with the board, not in lecturing fashion but as information for everyone involved, what the normal relationship with the town manager and the commissioners is.

    Among the key points were:

    1. Commissioners should not contact town staff. Questions should be sent to Adams, who will address the proper staff member.

    13 02 kenjuana mccray2. Board members should not assign tasks to town staff. That is Adams’ responsibility.

    3. If there are problems between board members or between the board and town staff they should be discussed in an open, diplomatic manner.

    4. Board members should never contact the town’s vendors. Those questions should be directed to Adams to handle.

    When it came time to discuss restoring some of the mayor’s powers, returning commissioner Jessie Bellflowers launched into a lengthy discussion of a booklet written by Trey Allen of the University of North Carolina School of Government dealing with powers assigned to the mayor by town boards or councils.

    Bellflowers noted that Allen’s book suggested the mayor not have the power to make motions or nominate people to serve on town committees.

    13 03 Bryan MarleyBut town attorney Dan Hartzog informed the board that Allen’s book was only a suggestion, not mandatory, adding that there was nothing in the official statutes that prohibited a town’s governing board from allowing the mayor to nominate or make motions at meetings.

    The only legal restrictions on the mayor of Hope Mills are limiting his or her right to vote only in situations where there is a tie.

    Since the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners includes five voting members, ties normally can only occur when at least one member is absent.

    Bellflowers further sought to limit Warner’s powers by requiring the board to not vote on any issue involving the sale or lease of town property unless all five commissioners were present for the meeting.

    The board voted 4-1, with Bellflowers the lone dissenting vote, to repeal that requirement.

    Warner did not lobby the board during the meeting for the return of her powers. She noted, however, that historically the Hope Mills mayor has enjoyed broader powers than the previous board allowed her to exercise.
    “I truly do believe I was elected by the people and their expectation oftentimes is I have to take ownership of things,’’ Warner said.

    As a specific example of the benefit of allowing the mayor the power to appoint people to committees, she cited the work of former Mayor Al Brafford, who was a central figure in putting together the committee that eventually helped Hope Mills get a branch of the Cumberland County library constructed in the town.

    “That committee went to the county commissioners and raised money,’’ Warner said. “They had a lot of support and that’s how we got the library.’’

    Board of Commissioners newly-elected members Bryan Marley and Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Kenjuana McCray agreed the mayor needs broader powers than allowed by the previous board. “She needs to be the ambassador for the town,’’ Marley said. “She’s advertising for the town. That’s her job, in my opinion.’’

    McCray concurred, saying as a citizen she wouldn’t want the mayor to lack power to help run the town effectively and efficiently.

    “Those are things she’s been doing and other mayors had been doing prior to last year,’’ McCray said. “She needed to be able to continue to have those powers to continue to run the town the way it needs to be run.’’
    In a Facebook post, one former commissioner questioned the new board moving so quickly to restore Warner’s powers before undergoing training from the Institute of Government next month.

    As the only person elected who has never served on the board, McCray disputed that theory.

    “I have a doctorate degree,’’ she said. “I know how to read and research information. I know how to make informed decisions based off what I read.’’
  • 15 almshouse signAfter a successful effort feeding the underprivileged of Hope Mills at Thanksgiving, the ALMS HOUSE in Hope Mills is gearing up to do the same thing for its annual Christmas Day dinner at noon on Dec. 25.

    The ALMS HOUSE is located at 5512 West Patterson St. near the historic Trade Street district in downtown Hope Mills, just off the main intersection downtown near Hope Mills Lake and Dam.

    Grilley Mitchell, program coordinator for the ALMS HOUSE love lunches program, recently sent out an email to various supporters of the ALMS HOUSE seeking donations of food to make the annual free giveaway of Christmas meals possible.

    Mitchell noted the Thanksgiving project resulted in the serving of 110 meals with the help of some 20 to 25 servers who volunteered their time to help with the project. Unfortunately between the servers and the many guests, the situation became a little crowded and confusing, Mitchell wrote.

    For the Christmas dinner, the carry-out meals will be made ahead of time and individual meals won’t be served with people standing in line. Anyone planning to donate uncooked items must drop them off at the ALMS HOUSE by Monday,
    Dec. 23. Cooked or prepared items can be donated as late as the day of the dinner by 11 a.m.

    The ALMS HOUSE will also be preparing care packages to give away. A variety of items are put in the care packs. They include the following: nonperishable food items like small cans of tuna, cereal bars, cheese and crackers, chicken salad kits, pull-top pasta, veggie chips, fruit cups, applesauce and fruit. Also included in the kits are personal items like soap, washcloths, disposable razors, deodorant, shaving cream and lotion, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, mouthwash, small packs of laundry soap, tissues, ChapStick, wipes, sanitizer, band aids, nail clippers, pairs of socks and inspirational Bible verses.

    The care packs are issued on Christmas Day. They are packed two days before distribution so all items for them should be delivered by Dec. 22.

    As for the menu for the Christmas Dinner, following are specific items that are needed to prepare the meal, which consists of five 12-pound or more turkeys, four 10-pound or more hams, two large pans each of dressing/stuffing, 20 pounds of potato salad, two large pans of macaroni and cheese, two large pans of greens or green bean casserole, two large pans of sweet potatoes/yams, 20 cups of gravy, 10 cans of cranberry sauce, 80 dinner rolls, various desserts — including cakes, pies and cookies and assorted drinks, including iced tea and soft drinks.

    “Thanks to everyone for your continued support,’’ Mitchell wrote. “We would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, and may the grace of God, his love, peace and blessings be with everyone.’’

    Anyone wishing to donate to the Christmas Day dinner or the care packs can sign up at the Love Lunch table at the ALMS HOUSE. You can also email Mitchell at hopemillslovelunch@gmail.com or call him at 910-476-3719.

  • 14 Heritage Square 1 With parcels of land stretching from the proposed Heritage Park and the current Hope Mills Lake Park downtown, all the way out to the new Golfview Greenway, Hope Mills has potential to develop walking and biking trails for its citizens.
    The town has been granted the money to conduct a study that will help develop those various resources to their fullest potential.

    Hope Mills was recently given a Pedestrian Planning Grant through the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s division of bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Chancer McLaughlin, development and planning administrator for Hope Mills, said the grant provides from $40,000 to $60,000 with a 20% match.

    “It’s basically geared toward encouraging municipalities to develop comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plans,’’ he said.

    The money will allow the town to explore the best ways to develop bicycle and pedestrian plans. So far, the town has successfully pursued grants to fund a number of sidewalk construction projects, including both the downtown area and along Rockfish Road near the town’s municipal complex.

    But this will be the first time the town has gotten grant money to fund a study that will work toward connecting all of the potential bicycle and pedestrian projects together. The list includes the former golf course turned greenway, Hope Mills Municipal Park, Trade Street, the lake park and the proposed Heritage Park.

    “Wherever we can find areas to accommodate bike lanes, sidewalks and trails that will ultimately connect all five areas, that will be the ultimate goal,’’ McLaughlin said.

    With the help of DOT, Hope Mills will hire a consultant to develop the plan for the town. Town staff will assist in the project, and there will be a full round of public meetings to seek input from the citizens of Hope Mills.

    McLaughlin said the town’s Parks and Recreation department, specifically director Lamarco Morrison, will be invovled. “You can see all those key projects are Parks and Recreation projects,’’ McLaughlin said.

    In a perfect world, the plan will try to figure out a way to allow residents to walk or ride safely around the town via a series of paths, trails, sidewalks or bicycle lanes.

    “All of these areas are at the core of the town of Hope Mills,’’ McLaughlin said.

    The tricky part, obviously, will be designing trails/sidewalks that will accommodate both bicycle and pedestrian traffic. “A lot of times, when you have a combination of these, the width of that trail will be paramount as well,’’ McLaughlin said. “Some portions you may have bike trails connected. Some you have some sidewalks. Some my have multi-use trails that will allow for bikes and pedestrians.’’

    McLaughlin stressed that the current grant from NCDOT only pays for the cost of the study that will develop the plan. The town will need to seek additional funding, possibly through the pursuit of future grants, to actually pay for construction of any bicycle or pedestrian sidewalks or trails that are constructed.

    “Once we come up with the plan, we have to find the mechanism to fund the construction,’’ McLaughlin said.

    McLaughlin said whatever plan is developed, it won’t come from a total vacuum, but will follow the general guidelines established in the existing Southwest Cumberland Detailed Land Use Plan that was first released in 2013. “This is another way to achieve those goals,’’ McLaughlin said.

    If anyone has questions about the new grant or the future of bicycle and pedestrian traffic in Hope Mills, McLaughlin can be reached during regular office hours at 910-426-4103.

  • For a second consecutive Christmas, Dawn Seegars is pulling double duty preparing for special Christmas music.

    Seegars, a bi-vocational worship leader at Temple Baptist Church, is again helping to put together the annual Singing Christmas Tree performances at Highland Baptist Church where she sang in the choir with the late Nancy Brady.
    This year’s performances are scheduled Dec. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each evening.

    Brady was the choir director at Highland until she lost a battle with cancer last year. Seegars stepped in to take over Brady’s role, and has agreed to do it again this year while Highland is engaged in the search for a new pastor.

    “They have awesome lay leadership but no music director permanently on staff and now no pastor,’’ Seegars said. Seegars said the congregation reached out to her over the summer to ask if she’d take on the job of directing this year’s Singing Christmas Tree and she agreed.

    “In church music, if you’re not a season ahead, you’re behind,’’ Seegars said. “In summertime you’re picking out Christmas music.’’

    Rehearsals began about the third week in September Seegars said.

    “We always try to do something different every year,’’ she said. “We haven’t repeated music. We want everyone that comes to hear something new, see something new.’’
    The sets may be the same, but the music and dramatic portions of the performance will be updated.

    Seegars said this year’s music selections will represent a variety of styles. “We’ve got some music with a Southern gospel feel, music with a regular gospel feel,’’ she said. “We’ve got some Christmas classics and even a song that includes a children’s choir.’’

    There will also be narrations along with actors portraying the traditional manger scene from the story of the birth of Christ. There will even by a lyrical dance team performing.

    Seegars praised the lay leadership at the church for their commitment to keep the Singing Christmas Tree going even without a full-time minister and music leader presently on staff.

    “When you don’t have a pastor, things are always a little tougher than when you do have somebody in that leadership role,’’ Seegars said. “They are going to continue to do what they are called to do and present the gospel message of Christmas to the community.’’

    Woody Cox, chairman of the church’s Board of Deacons, said those planning to come to the Singing Christmas Tree are invited to bring a donation of canned goods or other nonperishable foods to the church’s food pantry.
    Even without a pastor, Cox said the church’s ministry has been able to continue because of the great people there who are willing to share their time. The church has been doing the Singing Christmas Tree many years before Cox joined the congregation in 1995.

    “We just think it’s a great way to get the community in to hear the presentation of the gospel,’’ he said. “A lot of lost people are more willing to come in and watch the program. Through songs and the message that goes into it they get the gospel presentation of Jesus Christ.“We can touch a lot of lives quicker that way.’’

    For questions about the Singing Christmas Tree, call the church office at 910-425-5305, Monday through Thursday.

  •     Each year the staff of the Museum of the Cape Fear researches the decorative styles of the Victorian era to come up with a theme to decorate the Poe House and give the public a peek into Christmas traditions of the Victorian era. 
        “The theme this year is the first decade of the 20th century,” said Heidi Bleazey, Poe House educator. “The process has usually been researching through Ladies Home Journal magazines of the time period of the house.”
    Of course the house is always swagged in greenery from the outside.
        “It looks amazing,” said Bleazey. “We are doing traditional greenery indoors. We are doing a small tabletop tree this year and putting it where many of our regular visitors are used to seeing a full-sized Christmas tree.” 
        According to Bleazey, Christmas trees began in pop culture as tabletop size. While the Germanic cultures were embracing the Christmas tree tradition, it wasn’t until Queen Victoria married Albert and he brought some of those traditions to England that the British started using trees during the holidays. {mosimage}
        “But our museum represents southeastern North Carolina and even though these things were happening in Europe, many North Carolinians, based on their Scotch Irish or Scottish heritage, didn’t adopt those (traditions),” said Bleazey. “So even into the 1870’s Christmas trees were not very common in homes — so you are seeing a lot of variety in terms of styles and sizes and even what was put on the tree.”
        Another cultural tidbit that adds some insight to the mindset of the Victorian lady of the house is the responsibility she bore to represent her husband well by keeping an immaculate home.
        “There was this cult of domesticity or conspicuous consumption — sort of just creating this “wow factor” in your home,” said Bleazey.   
        The dining room would have been the public room that visitors came into and it was Mrs. Poe’s job to impress them when they walked in. The woman was responsible for raising her husband’s social status. Mr. Poe was a public figure in the community, so if somebody was coming over to dinner, his home — even to the point of what was being served and the manners displayed in that dining room — should reflect on him as well as humanly possible.
         “Everything about that house should put Mr. Poe and his family and their status up on a pedestal,” said Bleazey.        So it is with that in mind that the museum staff planned this year’s decorations.
        “Probably the most spectacular thing happening this year is this dramatic dining room ceiling that we are doing,” said Bleazey. “We are going to have 270 yards of 3-inch satin ribbon latticed (woven) across the ceiling. Then at every interval there is a sprig of holly and the ribbons ooze down the walls.”
        The staff found the idea in a 1906 Ladies Home Journal magazine and thought the idea would be perfect for the Poe house. 
        “When people come to a Victorian house there is sort of this expectation,” said Bleazey. “No, I can’t say that Mrs. Poe ever put a lattice ceiling on and I don’t know what size their tree was, typically, so we have turned to what was typical nationally and internationally and try to balance that out with what was happening here.”
        The display opens on Nov. 25 and runs through Jan 11, 2009. The Poe House is located next to the Museum of the Cape Fear on Arsenal Avenue. Tours are conducted hourly during normal operating hours and admission is free. Call 486-1330 for more info.
  • 16 pets supplies plusTony Mello is the manager of the newly opened Pet Supplies Plus in Hope Mills at the intersection of Main Street and Camden Road in the former Eckerd drugstore building.

    But Mello doesn’t really care that people refer to him as the store’s manager. He’d be happier if you just called him neighbor.

    “I’m from Hope Mills and have been here for 17 years,’’ said Mello. “The whole idea behind Pet Supplies Plus is we don’t have customers, we have neighbors. We are that big-box store to go shopping in minus all the hassles.’’
    Mello said the store is a win-win for pet owners of all types in the Hope Mills area.

    “This is somewhere you are going to want to come,’’ he said. “We want to get on a first-name basis with our neighbors — not just our neighbors, but their pets.’’

    Customers will get a feel for the special interest the staff at Pet Supplies Plus has for them whenever they visit the store. “I hire for personality, but I also need pet people,’’ Mello said of his staff. He said one of the first questions he asks any potential employee is do they own pets.“I love to see their faces light up when you ask their pet’s name,’’ he said. “The first thing they show you is the pictures (of their pet) in their cellphone.’’

    Pet Supplies Plus is independently owned but part of a chain of some 400 stores, based in Cleveland, Ohio.

    On the premises, you can purchase live birds, various small animals, reptiles and live fish. Among the more exotic animals the store sells are chameleons, crested geckos and leopard geckos.
    The store doesn’t sell dogs and cats, but arrangements are being made with several local pet adoption agencies to come in on weekends and help people pick out a pet.

    One of the store’s major features is a full, self-service grooming facility.

    Shampoo, towels and a blow dryer are available, and the store staff takes care of cleaning up and sanitizing the area when customers finish using it.

    If need pet food, the store carries everything for dogs, cats, reptiles, guinea pigs and ferrets to name few animals. If a customer has a special need for something not in stock, they’ll work with you to make a special order.
    The store also plans to offer clinics with a traveling veterinary service.Two are already scheduled for next year, one on Jan. 28 and one on Feb. 25. The hours for both are from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

    “You can come in, see a vet and get vaccinations in house,’’ Mello said.

    Regular store hours are from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

  •     At the Fayetteville City Council work session on Monday, Dec. 1, the council tackled aspects of important upcoming construction projects: the site selection for the transit multi-modal facility and the granting of contracts for the next phase in the construction of the N.C. Veterans Park. It was the latter debate that turned into a tempest in a teapot.
        The issue brought before the board was the selection of architectural and engineering firms for the park. The selection process was overseen by city staff, who received bids from 14 different companies. That number was short-listed, and five of the companies went through an extensive interview process with the selection team.  By a unanimous vote, the team recommended the selection of the Urban Resource Group, a division of Kimley-Horne & Associates, Inc., a Raleigh-based firm. The team brought together by URG includes: Carol R. Johnson Associates, Clearscape, Penn., and the engineering firms of McKim & Creed, Fleming & Associates and S&ME, all Fayetteville-based firms. In addition to this team, the team of Vandewalle and Associates, the firm that created the master plan for the park, is to be awarded a contract not to exceed $2 million for all architectural and engineering services for the $15 million project.
        At contention was the inclusion of Vandewalle and Associates in the project. The request made by the city staff was to include Vandewalle in the ongoing phases of construction at a fee not to exceed 20 percent of the proposed $2 million fee.
        Councilman Wesley Meredith was the first to question the inclusion of Vandewalle in the ongoing project. “I want to be clear — Vandewalle will be supervising the entire project?”
        Craig Hampton, the city’s special projects director explained that Vandewalle would be working on master planning documents, overseeing designs, working with the content team and the creation of displays. In short, they would be working as part of the project management team. Hampton said the majority of their work would be concluded during the first year; however, they would still be involved in Phase II of the construction.
        He explained that the majority of the work would be done by the Urban Resource Team, with Vandewalle approving designs and concepts to ensure that they are consistent with the masterplan and theme of the park.
        Councilman D.J. Hare questioned why each segment of the A&E team could not approve its own work and keep it within the guidelines of the master plan. He further pointed out that the company is not in North Carolina and that there should be companies in the state who were capable to do the work Hampton said the key to success was in the programming and schematic and design development of the project. He explained that each of the entities in the Urban Resource Group would be working on different parts of the plan, and it would be up to Vandewalle to ensure that each component complemented the other pieces and stayed true to the master plan for the park.
        It was questioned whether the city had to stick with Vandewalle as the creators of the master plan or whether it could have looked for someone to do it at a reduced rate.
        Hampton explained, on several occasions, to the council that state statutes spell out that architects and engineers are attained through qualification, not through price. He said that Vandewalle had been chosen by the council at the outset of the project and that in order for the park construction to be consistent and true to its approved concepts, themes and ideals, it was the opinion of the staff that Vandewalle should be involved throughout the project.
        Councilwoman Val Applewhite questioned whether it was the industry practice to select a firm because they were involved in the initial development or should it have been bid out again.
        Hampton explained that it was the normal practice to use the originator of the concept to ensure concept and themes were carried through the entire project and were reflected in all of the work. He explained that as the planners of the park, Vandewalle & Associates met with 200 veterans and interviewed them to find out what was important to them, and then incorporated all of the information into the masterplan and then into a concept, which URG will design with the guidance of Vandewalle to ensure that it meets the concepts and themes.
        Councilman Ted Mohn questioned whether Vandewalle’s rates were consistent with industry standards. Hampton said the firm charges $120 per hour for their principal planner; which is much lower than the $200 per hour that is charged by Gantt and Associates, the firm which is in charge of the multi-modal project. “It’s a very favorable amount,” said Hampton.
        Meredith questioned whether Vandewalle was the only company considered at the outset of the project. Hampton said a second firm, Public Places, based out of New York, was also considered; however it was much more expensive.
        Mayor Tony Chavonne said he didn’t believe the council had a real problem with Vandewalle, but rather it was a problem with “transparency,” in that the project was not sent back out to bid and that the council did not know Vandewalle would have an ongoing role in the project.
        When asked about whether or not the project should have been sent back out to bid, City Manager Dale Iman said it was the industry standard to have the master planner involved in all phases of construction.
    Councilman Mohn also noted that this was not the first the council had heard of the groups inclusion. He noted that the board was apprised of it in August.
  • 06 FCC ArtsCouncil TAG 4CThe Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County announced the expansion of the Artists In Schools initiative with the assistance of a grant from the North Carolina Glaxo SmithKline Foundation.

    The Arts Council received $25,000 through the Ribbon of Hope Grant Program to expand access to AIS for Title One schools in Cumberland County.AIS is a program explicitly developed to prepare students for the challenges they face in the next decade by including an interactive arts education experience.

    Artists in Schools goes beyond painting, singing and dancing. AIS provides schools with highly trained professional artists who work with teachers and students in core subject matter areas through the arts.

    Artists In Schools has operated in partnership with Cumberland County Schools for over two decades. Since 2005, AIS serves approximately 20,000 students in grades K to 12 each year in Cumberland County and over 300,000 in total.

    “The Ribbon of Hope directly aligns with our goal for the AIS Program: expansion of a successful arts and culture initiative to meet the needs of our youth in Cumberland County,” said Bob C. Pinson, interim president and CEO of the Arts Council.

  • 15 arts council paintingDue to unforeseen problems, the silent auction portion of the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council’s fundraiser Tuesday has been moved to Marci’s Cakes and Bakes at 5474 Trade Street. The remainder of the event will still be held at The Studio on Trade Street at 5458 Trade Street. 

    What started as a traditional Christmas party at The Studio on Trade Street in Hope Mills has evolved into a fundraiser for the new Hope Mills Creative Arts Council.

    Cherri Stoute has agreed to open the doors of her Trade Street business in Hope Mills to the community as a way of promoting the work of the new arts council and helping to jumpstart its effort to raise money to fund its various projects.
    The event is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 17, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Stoute’s photography studio at 5458 Trade St.

    “I wanted to do this event to help them raise money so they can continue on their own to have events,’’ Stoute said.

    Normally, Stoute rents out her photography studio space to local photographers. For the party, the studio will be cleared out to create an open space and allow the party-goers plenty of room to mingle and celebrate and to allow visiting artists to share their works.

    Stoute’s studio offers memberships to local photographers and is available for rent by photographers for photo sessions and other events. Stoute herself is both a photographer and a filmmaker.
    Regular hours for her studio are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

    A big part of the fundraiser will be a silent auction where guests can submit bids on art donated for the event.

    Local artist Justin Spears has already donated a painting to be auctioned off, and other artists are invited to submit items for the guests to bid on. An alternative way to support the cause is the photo booth, which will be accepting donations.

    Pictures of some of the items available for auction will be posted in days to come on the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council’s Facebook page, as well as its website, hopemillsarts.com. There will also be carolers and Christmas music.

    Stoute said guests don’t have to stay for the full three hours, and they also don’t have to be present to learn if they’ve submitted a winning bid for any of the items to be auctioned.

    In addition to Stoute’s photography studio, other businesses on Trade Street will be open during the time of the fundraiser for people to visit. “The idea is to come in and see what is going on, then go to the other shops,’’ Stoute said. “It’s an important event for the community.’’

    Snacks and munchies will be available for visitors to the studio that evening. Marci’s Cakes and Bakes nearby will also be open with a variety of treats for sale.

    Elizabeth Blevins, one of the originators of the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council, said all money raised from the silent auction will be used to bring more art into the community and to help local businesses offset the cost of putting art and sculptures into their businesses.

    A likely initial use of the money would be to help local artists pay for supplies to create works of art for public display around the town.

    One of the initial goals is to create a mural in a public space somewhere in town.

    Spears has been approached about being compensated for his materials should he decide to produce a mural somewhere in the town once a location has been determined. “He is a veteran and he’s just started doing charcoal drawings,’’ Blevins said. “He also does oil paintings.’’

    Artists who work in all mediums are welcome to donate works to the fundraiser to include in the silent auction Blevins said.

    Artists are also welcome to come and set up a display of their work at no charge at the party on Dec. 17. “They are welcome to sell or show,’’ Blevins said.

    Blevins said interested artists should contact her as soon as possible at 910-853-4539 or email hopemillscac@gmail.com.

    “This is an opportunity for the arts council to meet the businesses on Trade Street,’’ Blevins said.

    “We just want everyone to come out and have a lovely night on Trade Street in Hope Mills,’’ Stoute said.

  • 01 05 FAITHFUL JOURNEY by artist Richard WilsonRichard Wilson is a prolific artist who can create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that will stand out in any art show, contest or crowd. Up & Coming Weekly recently sat down with the authentic artist to discuss making history, his favorite work of art and the moment his passion for drawing began.

    How did it feel being the first African-American artist to have a portrait displayed in a North Carolina courthouse?
    I was commissioned by The Phoenix Historical Society in Tarboro, North Carolina, to do the portrait of George Henry White, the last former slave to serve in Congress. I was grateful to do it and we also had an art show to coordinate with the unveiling of the portrait of my work. After the unveiling, Mr. Knight [of the Historical Society] was interviewed by the television station and indicated that not only did they make history that night with the portrait, but the artist made history as well by being the first African-American artist to have a portrait hung in any courthouse in North Carolina. I was shocked when I heard that. I was a young budding artist at the time and I was just trying to get my name out there and thought this was a great opportunity for people to get to know who I am. It got my name out there and the show that we did right after that, I had a few of my pieces sell before the show had started. That was an honor for me.

    Please share your story of how you began drawing.
    I started drawing at the age of 8 and I remember watching my dad because he was an artist. My dad used to paint the signs in the town that we lived in and I would help him paint those signs. One thing that was really vivid in my memory was I remember sitting at the dinner table and my dad was drawing me and my brothers while we were sitting at the table. It was so realistic and I thought it was so amazing. It sparked something in me and I started doing it myself and have never stopped.

    Do you have a favorite work of art and can you tell us why?
    That is a hard question because all of the girls in my paintings are my daughters and all of the boys are my nephews. One of them is a piece called “Between Us.” It is a little girl and boy standing by a tree. This piece is the one that actually put me on the map. I was determined to get my work shown to the world so I took vacation leave to send this piece to New York. There was an international art competition in New York called the Pastel Society of America and I entered the contest. The president of the society called to congratulate and tell me that I won one of the top awards which is the National Arts Club Award. I was floored when I heard this. I won $1,000 and a certificate.

    Tell our readers how your Facebook Live Art Shows came about.
    I started this because what I normally do is travel all over the country doing the top arts festivals in several different states. I travel as far as Colorado, Florida and New York. Right when COVID-19 hit, all of my shows started canceling. I had to figure out a way to reach my clients so I decided to do this Facebook Live Art Show and sell my prints. That is how that came about. It has been going very well. When I first started I didn’t think about the fact that I had to do a lot of shipping because when I go to the shows I take the artwork in the van and sell it right there on the spot. Now I am getting a lot of orders so I have to package stuff up. I am doing a lot of shipping and I’m not complaining about it, but it is just another thing added to my workload. Once I get back on the road I will continue to do this because it has allowed me to reach people that I was not reaching at my shows. Social media is one of the things that I was lacking in because I was traveling all the time and just selling my work from place to place. I was trying to do a little bit of social media to try to reach people, but now I am able to reach a lot more people online than I did before.
    I’ve gained some new collectors since I’ve started doing the live show. I still have a website and a lot of people that I’ve seen at shows, I still have them on my mailing list. I have 15,000 people on my mailing list that I generated from doing shows over the years. I’m networking with more people now than I did before.

    Tell us about the inspiration behind the piece “Faithful Journey.”
    It is based off of my life. It is about me stepping out on faith to become a full-time artist. I was actually teaching an art class at Pitt Community College. My goal has always been to do my art full time. In 2014, I told my wife that I had to give myself a chance to do this because you only live once and I have to step out and go for it. So I added more shows to my schedule to compensate my teaching salary and the very first show I did after I quit my job, I made more money that weekend than I did teaching for a whole year. That opened my eyes and that is what “Faithful Journey” is all about because the little boy that was looking back was the voice that was speaking to me right before I told my boss that I was going to leave my job to do my art full time. The little girl pulling the little boy along was that voice that started telling me that we were going to be alright, let’s go! I never looked back and I have been full time ever since. It has been the best decision I have ever made.

    Wilson’s art is being featured in Cool Spring Downtown District’s Art Alley until Dec. 31. Located at 222 Hay St. in downtown Fayetteville, the Art Alley is free and open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information on Wilson and his art visit www.richardwilsonart.com/

    Above photo: "Faithful Journey"

    Below clockwise: "Going Up Yonda," "Between Us," "Stretching Ballerina," "Bessie Coleman"

    All photos courtesy of Richard Wilson

    01 01 GOING UP YONDA by artist Richard Wilson  01 02 Between Us  01 04 BESSIE COLEMAN by artist Richard Wilson  01 03 STRETCHING BALLERINA web



  • 09 02 Christmas tree hmA busy schedule of Christmas activities will take place from this weekend through next weekend in Hope Mills. The scheduled events will be held rain or shine. Only in the event of extreme bad weather will anything be canceled.

    Here’s a quick look at the scheduled lineup of activities. For questions about any of the events contact Meghan Freeman at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department at 910-426-4109.

    Christmas at the Lake

     The celebration begins Friday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. with Christmas at the Lake. This event features the lighting of the Christmas tree at the lake near the gazebo.
    There will be hot chocolate and cookies and free music provided by Kelly West of Cumulus Media.

    Hope Mills Christmas Parade

     One of the highlights of the Christmas season in Hope Mills is the annual Christmas parade, which is scheduled for this Saturday, Dec. 7, and will begin at 3 09 03 Christmas cookies and cocoap.m.
    This will be the first Christmas parade featuring the altered route that was introduced at this year’s Fourth of July Parade. In the past, the parade started at Hope Mills Middle School and wound its way through town to finish on Rockfish Road near the Town Hall complex.

    The route was reversed for the Fourth of July so that bands and other walking units don’t have to negotiate the long hill climb that starts at the railroad trestle and continues up Rockfish Road.

    Last year’s parade attracted some 70 units according to Freeman. This story was written just prior to the deadline for submitting an entry into the parade so there was still time for late additions.

    This year’s parade grand marshals will be the winners of the Miss Cotton Pageant.

    Other entries are expected to include local high school bands, businesses, churches, athletic groups, classic cars and of course Santa.

    Festival of Lights

    09 04 Santa Hope MillsRight after the Christmas parade, enjoy the Festival of Lights at the Town Hall complex on Rockfish Road. Activities will begin at 5 p.m.

    The highlight of the Festival of Lights is the lighting of the Christmas tree by Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner.

    In addition to the tree lighting, there will be free hot chocolate and cookies for everyone. Kelly West of Cumulus Media will provide the music.

    There will be a giant snow globe spectators can get inside and take pictures. There will also be two train rides and Santa Claus will be on hand.

    The event will wrap up around 7 p.m.

    Breakfast with Santa

     For a second straight year, the town will host Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 14, at the main Hope Mills Fire Station at 5788 Rockfish Road.

    The event was moved to the fire station last year because of damage sustained to the parks and recreation building from Hurricane Florence. The event was 09 Jackie paradesuch a success last year the fire department wanted to continue being involved with it, so it was kept at that location this year.

    This is the only town Christmas event requiring tickets.

    The cost is $10 per person. Children under the age of three are admitted free. There is a limit on the number of tickets. Only 250 are sold and it’s first come, first served. Tickets can only be purchased in person at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department near the Town Hall complex on Rockfish Road.

    The breakfast is scheduled to run from 8:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. Music will be  provided by Kelly West of Cumulus Media. The breakfast menu includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon and juice and will be catered by Grandsons Buffet.
  • 01 01 Cartier 000012 069541 891069 7977After months of staying home due to COVID-19, I felt comfortable visiting a gallery. My first stop was to see the exhibit Artists Who Teach 2020 at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery. I was not disappointed and upon leaving the exhibit I felt a sense of joy seeing works created by art educators from around the country.

    Curator Dwight Smith extended the exhibit until Dec. 19 so more people could visit the gallery and see 36 original works in a variety of media from artists working in higher education and public schools. The gallery and online exhibit are the result of artists from 26 states participating in the national competition by sending 156 images to be part of the selection process.

    Leaving the gallery, I realized my approach to writing an art editorial for Up & Coming Weekly would not be the same as before 2020. Too much has happened this year which has impacted our daily lives and community. A paradigm shift has taken place in Fayetteville, the American culture and around the globe. Then there is the obvious, why would people venture out to see Artists Who Teach 2020 when viewing works of art has become more online accessible than ever before?

    We can stay at home and visit museums and galleries around the world from our living room. Technology and live streaming have defined “our today” in many positive ways; but unfortunately, it has also become a consuming mass distraction — the 2020 Zeitgeist of seeing reproductions online lacks the experiential or contemplation.

    The concept of zeitgeist traditionally refers to the overall spirit of an age (politically, economically and culturally) and cannot be known until it is over. So why does it feel like the 2020 Zeitgeist is not only upon us, but “all over us?” I could go with the contemporary version of zeitgeist, though not pragmatic, and refer to what is tasteful in today’s culture … I do not think that is even possible.

    The information highway is not new, but 2020 online, virtual accessibility and mass communication has fast-forwarded us into sensory overload. This includes, but is not limited to, the lingering COVID pandemic and the resounding influences of the internet: live streaming, hashtags to esports, social distancing to online education, podcasts, Zoom, video-based communities, what is factual, what is real, the video is becoming the main medium for critical cultural moments, and lots and lots and lots of tweets. According to internetlivestats.com, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter every second with 145 million daily active users on Twitter, an average of which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year.

    If you do go to “internetlivestats” you will see a page of flickering, perpetually increasing numbers. Numbers across the screen flick as they are constantly totaling upwards to reveal what happens in a day, by seconds, to compute the increased usage of the following: internet users of the world, number of emails sent, number of websites, google searches, blogs and tweets, videos seen on YouTube, photos uploaded from Instagram, Tumblr posts, actives users on Google, Facebook, Pinterest and Skype, number of websites hacked, number of computers, smartphones and tablets sold, internet traffic, electricity used today on the internet and CO2 emissions from the internet. It is easy to see, hands down, how this website image affirms and IS the definitive 2020 Zeitgeist!

    If you are still reading after the last two paragraphs, a slight sensation might be taking place — too much information! Sensory overload is a part of 2020. Sensory input is most often pleasing; but when we have sensory overload, when one or more of our bodily senses’ experience over stimulation — it can be very unpleasant.

    The main purpose of the internet is to provide global access to data and communications. Sensory overload of information occurs when we do not practice the purpose of information: to resolve uncertainty. Full circle to the beginning of the article: technology and live streaming not only define “our today” in positive ways; but it also has the potential to become a consuming mass distraction - lacking the experiential or contemplation. Bottom line, the explosive growth of information has become sensory overload, unpleasant and even inhibits thinking.

    A starting point to reestablish the best of the remnants of 2019 and back to the notion of thinking, feeling and the real is possible at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery. Curator Smith noted: “Due to the success of last year’s competition, this is the second year we conducted and presented the results of a national competition among art educators. The art educators are from higher education and the public schools’ systems across the nation. The exhibit is a very diverse group of paintings, drawings, prints, mixed media works, and three-dimensional works and showcases the arts as an essential part of a complete education. It does not matter if happens in the home, school, or community. Students of all ages, from kindergarten to college, and creative program all benefit from artistic learning, innovative thinking, and the creative imagination.”

    Smith, also an Associate Professor of Art at Fayetteville State University, and Vilas Tonape, artist, and chair of the Visual Arts Department at Methodist University, both juried the competition from the 156 entries. Tonape selected the six award winners. Ellington White Contemporary Gallery is not only hosting the gallery exhibit but also created an online exhibit. Both exhibits will remain on the gallery online website for one year.

    Online exhibits have been extremely important in 2020 to galleries and museums, but it does not replace the real. Works of art in galleries and museum are more relevant than ever before. Comparing two of the works in Artists Who Teach 2020 is my way of exemplifying the differences and why supporting local galleries is important now and, in the future, when the COVID restrictions are finally lifted.

    While writing this article, I contacted Beverly Henderson, the student intern at Ellington White Gallery, and asked her one simple question: how do you like the exhibit? Her last remarks were: “… a lot of diversity in the works. It was different seeing the work online and when the original works arrived. After we hung the exhibit and I had time to look, I could see more details and felt an emotion from the real work which I did not feel when seeing the online version.”

    Henderson is correct, as soon as you enter the gallery visitors will immediately see very diverse approaches to image or object making; but they will also, unknowingly, sense materiality. Then it takes real time in a real space to examine and compare how each artist creates the content of their work with style, composition and use of materials.

    The materiality of the painting titled “Three Brushes” by Larry Hamilton, from Wichita Falls, Texas, is a masterful oil painting. The beautifully painted small still life captures the essence of a moment in time. Viewers can get close to the oil painting on panel and see a manipulated surface, transitions of light, saturated color, half tones and atmosphere. The physical richness of surface is subtle as it catches the light created of paint and paint medium.

    In comparison, the style of Danielle Cartier, from Camden, New Jersey, is a mixed media work titled “Ever Knew” and is the opposite of Hamilton’s painting. Instead of a traditional still life, the artist has created a multilayered abstract and referential surface using acrylic paint, spray paint and mixed media. Her style is to juxtapose unlike images in the same work to evoke new meaning for the viewer.

    Hamilton’s painting evokes an aesthetic sense of presence, calm, beauty and structure. Cartier’s work is ethereal, moving parts create a whole, we sense process and the act of looking. Whereas Hamilton’s’ pictorial space is about volumetric form, light and the effects of color; Cartier’s work is about decoding messages and signs.

    In both works there is a time element. In “Three Brushes” we sense the artist is sharing a long period of contemplative looking. The exact opposite, Cartier’s “Ever Knew” are the many references and signs we overlook and do not see during the day.

    One could say the attributes of each work is conveyed online. But it is not impossible. The online versions are pictures of a picture (the painting or mixed media). The absence of material results in passive looking. Seeing the actual constructed work is a visceral activity, an active experience which includes the physical presence of the object themselves.

    Even though “Three Brushes” is enjoyed for the illusion of space that is created on a flat surface, it is still first and foremost, an actual object in space that has literal texture, density and weight. Even though most viewers do not think about the qualities inherent in the object, those inherent characteristics are integral to the overall authenticity of the work and are not present in the online version or the reproductions in this article.

    One could say those same aesthetics are communicated online. My answer would be there is a resemblance, but it is not the same. We do not see or experience the physical depth of a painting medium or the tactile edges of mixed media work in an online version. We do not see the differences in the actual surface of the color from spray paint, the chalky quality of pigment blown onto the surface compared to the color of suspended pigment in an oil medium as leaves a tube of paint.

    As an analogy, you do not need to know the science of a sunset to enjoy it. But the sunset would not exist without the science. And experiencing a real sunset is better than a reproduction. That premise relates back to the authenticity of the sunset which exists in time and space. So, it is with a work of art.

    No matter how close technology can bring us to examine a microscopic, detailed surface of a painting – images in this article and online are reproductions. This idea was explored as far back as the late 1930s by Walter Benjamin in his book titled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” The early 20th century was the beginning of mass communication, mass culture and mass commodification. Within that context, Benjamin emphasizes the value of an authentic work of art is the result of its “aura.” It is the “aura” we enjoy and that includes the object’s presence in time and space. It is the same with a sunset, the validity of seeing the real over a reproduction is its physicality, its “aura.”

    In closing, I would like to share a personal story which summarizes everything. After seeing the paintings by Vincent Van Gogh in books and online for over 20 years, I had the opportunity to see a body of his work at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Upon seeing the real work, I immediately realized, after so many years, I had never really seen a painting by Van Gogh. What I had experienced before going to the exhibit, were not remotely comparable to seeing the real painting.

    So here we are, on the precipice of an increasingly changing technological future. And since, according to Benjamin, “our sensory perspective is not completely biological or natural, it is also historical,” what does the future look like for us? How will the internet influence what we value? What choices will we make to prioritize what we do with our time, and how will we choose to deal with increasing mass media and internet overstimulation?

    Perhaps it will not be gloomy, but it will have the opposite affect. We will take action to deal with internet sensory overstimulation of information by doing more of the activities we know helps: critical thinking and reflection, take a walk during our lunch break at work, visit parks or take long walks during the weekend, go to the theater, a musical performance or to a gallery.

    The exhibit Artists Who Teach 2020 is a good place to start and if you take the time to look at each work you will leave the gallery with a sense of pleasure unlike seeing artwork online. Please note the exhibit will not be up for long, until Dec. 19. The gallery is not open Monday-Thursday, but only open on Friday and Saturday between 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    Like all businesses everyone is required to wear a mask when they enter the gallery. The exhibit was possible by a grant from the Fayetteville and Cumberland County Arts Council. For information mail ewp-arts@hotmail.com or go to their website: https://www.ellington-white.com/

     Pictured above: "Ever Knew" by Danielle Cartier from Camden, New Jersey.

    01 02 Hamilton 000025 086543 568785 7977

    01 03 Kuehl 000031 086704 736915 7977











    Top left: "Three Brushes" by Larry Hamilton from Wichita Falls, Texas

    Top right: "Made in USA" by Dan Kuehl from Roanoke, Virginia

    Bottom left: "Breath" by Paul Adams from Lindon, Utah

    Bottom right: "Life Series" by Jennifer Salzman from Creswell, Oregon

    01 01 Adams Breath wet collodion tintype2000

    01 04 Salzman 000051 079017 496313 7977

  • 09 01 CCA dressed upCumberland Choral Arts is continuing its efforts of making music by adapting to a virtual format during the pandemic. Instead of performing for live audiences this year as they have since 1991, they are using YouTube and Facebook to reach people and present their music.

    “In order to operate in the times of COVID, you kind of have to throw dynamite underneath the concept of what a performance organization is and just reconstruct how you see things,” Dr. Michael Martin, artistic director for Cumberland Choral Arts, said. “We moved away from the standard concert method, and we’re going to do these concerts virtually, it's not an easy format to adapt to.”

    They are in the process of recording different choral pieces and are enlisting community members to join them for a virtual presentation of the “Hallelujah Chorus" from “Messiah.” The English-language oratorio was written in 1741 by German-born composer George Frideric Handel. Originally written for Easter, “Messiah” has become a Christmas holiday favorite. The CCA performance of the piece is usually delivered to full audiences, many joining in for the “Hallelujah Chorus" — the most widely known section of the composition.

    Martin said Cumberland Choral Arts is inviting community members who know the music to submit a video. There is online learning material available to use as a guide, as voices will be synchronized better later.

    The Campbellton Youth Chorus will be participating in the “Hallelujah Chorus" as well, said Donna Jo Mangus, artistic director of the Campbellton Youth Chorus, affiliate of the Cumberland Choral Arts.

    All the videos will be compiled by the director and assistant director, mixing video and audio and synchronizing all the pieces to make the finished product, Mangus said.

    Martin said he had been working on new technology since last year that allowed them to do a series of projects virtually. Some of the challenges with going virtual have been getting the synchronization right and getting the rights to upload those things on the internet, he said.

    “That’s kind of what we’ve been doing, trying to navigate technology and stay relevant in the eyes of people who would want to come and watch us sing,” Martin said.

    The organization has two concerts planned for the next year, a women composer concert in March celebrating Women’s History Month and suffrage, as well as a “Tour of the World” themed concert in May displaying music from different cultures.

    Martin said he might blend the two but teaching them in a virtual format will be a challenge and may affect how the timeline will work out.

    “We are going to have a series of things uploaded to our social media that people can watch on their time,” he said. Martin plans to have next year’s scheduled finalized over the holiday season.

    The Campbellton Youth Choir hosts four concerts a year with children aged 9-14. It is open to all, regardless of their schooling situation.

    Mangus said they will be posting their songs virtually to the Cumberland Choral Arts handle at www.youtube.com/channel/UCcxVHG97aIEIGP_645K11DQ

    Going virtual has given young singers a chance to learn how to collaborate with other interested singers in the area, she said.

    The youth choir is an opportunity for young singers to perform in a group and make music together for the shared experience, to have appreciation for the song and lyrics, and the beautiful melodies, wider range of dynamics, there's nothing like it when you're a singer, Mangus said.

    “I think the artistic community sees relevance for any kind of ensemble that’s part of our community especially now that COVID has hit, it brings us together and it's so important and music just answers that equation,” Martin said.

    Mangus and Martin both encourage anyone with a singing talent to participate virtually, to strengthen the community of singers.

    “As we become technologically advanced and have every reason in the world to stay away from one another but that's not the human condition and I feel so strongly about this,” Martin said. “Even before COVID, we could find so many things that were just disposable means of entertainment that you could just come do and leave, but there's nothing of longevity, but here we are and all those means of entertainment are closed down or regulated but here we are, still singing and making music together.”

    For more information on submitting a video for the “Hallalujah Chorus," the Cumberland Choral Arts and Campbellton Youth Choir, visit https://cumberlandchoralarts.org.

    Pictured above: Dr. Michael Martin (left ) is the Artistic Director for Cumberland Choral Arts. Martin and the CCA are working to offer virtual performances that audiences can view online.
    (Photo courtesy Cumberland Choral Arts)

    Pictured below: Cumberland Choral Arts is encouraging members of the communty to submit videos of themselves singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah," to be inlcuded in the virtual performance. (Photo courtesy Cumberland Choral Arts)

    09 02 Cumberland Choral Handel

  • 13 01 trent tursichWith practice opportunities improving and the number of swimmers continuing to increase, Cumberland County Schools are looking for a banner year this swimming season.
    Here’s a brief look at some of the better teams and swimmers expected to compete this year.

     With only two swimmers graduated on the girls' side and a big class of freshman arriving for the boys, coach Amey Shook feels the outlook for her Cape Fear squad is bright.
    “We have a tone of optimism at the abilities they are going to be bringing to the table,’’ she said.

    Among the biggest reasons for Shook’s optimism is the return of her daughter, Amelia, to the roster.

    Coach Shook describes Amelia as a jack of all trades who can swim almost any event.

    For the last two seasons Amelia competed in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke at the conference and regional levels.

    13 02 Brandon As a team, Cape Fear qualified for state in the 400 relay. Amelia just missed making the state meet in the 200 and 100.

    “I think the best is yet to come,’’ Coach Shook said. “Amelia has been putting in her work, working on speed and conditioning.’’

    She’s also been rehabbing from yet another knee injury, this one suffered in soccer, that sidelined her following her surgery in June.
    She was able to resume swimming in September but doesn’t feel that’s going to hold her back during the season.

    She thinks her best events this year will be the 100 backstroke and the 100 fly. She’s aiming for a finish of eighth or better in both at the regional so she can make the state meet.
    “I’ve gone to states two years in a row on a relay team,’’ she said. “I want to make it individually.’’

    Pine Forest

    13 03 Allison CurlMore than two-thirds of coach Trent Turisch’s teams are freshmen and sophomores who have never swum before. “My biggest goal is to get something out of their season,’’ he said, “whether it’s to learn a new stroke or making sure they are able to better themselves.’’

    The Trojans have benefited from the addition of dome-covered outdoor recreation pools, especially the one at College Lakes Recreation Center near Pine Forest.

    Turisch only needs a few minutes to load up an activity bus and take his team over there after school to practice.

    The bright spot for Turisch’s team this year is the return of possibly the best male swimmer in the county, Brandon Chhoeung. Turisch said Chhoeung is fully committed to swimming. He leaves practice with the Pine Forest team to go and practice with his club swimming team.

    Chhoeung credits the coaches he’s worked with who’ve helped him develop the work ethic that drives him.

    13 04 jared kaiserHe prefers the distance events because they show how much grit a competitor has. He said the 200 and 500 freestyle races are among his favorites.

    “This year, I’ve been working mostly on my flip turns and my kicking,’’ he said. “I just want to get some fast times and see our team win the conference.’’

    Terry Sanford

    Bulldog coach Jared Kaiser only lost a handful of swimmers to graduation last year.

    His biggest concern coming into the season is that efforts to get a public indoor swimming facility in Fayetteville appear to be stalled.

    “There’s not really any place our kids can go to do year-round swimming,’’ he said. He said the domed outdoor pools are a welcome addition but are not much more than a Band-Aid for the problem. “It’s at least provided a little flexibility where teams can have more people at practice because there are more lanes,’’ he said.

    13 05 Amey ShookKaiser’s top returning swimmer is Allison Curl, who specializes in the 500 freestyle along with the 100 and 200. “She can keep going and going,’’ he said of her endurance.
    Curl swims for a club team so she’s in the water as much as five and six days per week.

    She likes the distance events because at only 5-foot-3, the sprint races are more difficult for her.

    “In a longer race it doesn’t matter because there is so much distance I can make up,’’ she said.

    She relies on technique and endurance to carry her to wins. She thinks the 500 freestyle is her best shot to go to state because of her endurance and the fact fewer swimmers like to try it.
    She’s confident about the team’s chances as well.

    “The boys’ team is very strong and the girls are exceptionally strong,’’ she said.








    13 06 Amelia Shook

  • 13 01 bazzleHere are the top ten Fayetteville and Cumberland County high school stories as selected by a panel of voters:

    1. Tyler Bazzle scores for South View.

    Tyler Bazzle, a student at South View High School, suffers from a form of cerebral palsy that causes him to be nonverbal and require a walker to get around.

    He’s beloved by both students and faculty, and he is a fan of the South View football team and its star player, Matthew Pemberton.

    South View athletic director Chad Barbour went to head coach Rodney Brewington with the idea of letting Bazzle suit up for a game, then running a play, giving Bazzle the ball and letting him score a touchdown.
    The event was held at South View’s homecoming game with E.E. Smith, with the full support of the folks from Smith and the officiating crew.

    Just prior to the kickoff, the ball was given to Bazzle, and best friends Kevin Brewington and Pemberton helped him into the endzone.

    13 02 holiday hypeAfter the game, Pemberton gave Bazzle his game cleats.

    “It’s an experience I’ll never forget,’’ Barbour said.

    2. Wilson excels at wrestling

    Dallas Wilson is following in the footsteps of his dad, Cape Fear High School wrestling coach Heath Wilson. His dad is a former state champ and Dallas has already surpassed his efforts.
    Dallas won his second consecutive state 3-A wrestling title last year. Also winning from Cape Fear was Jared Barbour.

    This year, Dallas is seeking to become only the second wrestler in Cumberland County history with three state titles.

    The other is Richard “Pnut” Tolston of Jack Britt High School, who won three straight for Jack Britt High School from 2013-15.

    3. Cumberland County athletic signings

    Cumberland County Schools had a banner year for its athletes signing letters binding them to compete in athletes for colleges.

    According to Cumberland County Student Activities Director Vernon Aldridge, 126 county athletes committed to play for a variety of colleges.

    4. Special Olympics honors Gray’s Creek High School

    Gray’s Creek High School was one of only two high schools in the state recognized by Special Olympics North Carolina for helping to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities.
    Gray’s Creek became an early leader in the Unified Sports program, which partners able-bodied athletes with special needs athletes so the latter can compete in sports including wrestling, track and bowling.

    5. Terry Sanford’s Herz drafted by Chicago Cubs

    After a brilliant high school career, Terry Sanford pitcher D.J. Herz was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the 2019 Major League Draft.

    Herz was selected in the eighth round by the Cubs. In his final season at Terry Sanford he was 8-1 with a Cumberland County Schools best 0.50 earned run average. He pitched 56.1 innings and led the county with 106 strikeouts.
    Herz played for one of the Cubs’ two Arizona rookie league teams last year.

    The lefthander appeared in six games, finishing with an 0-1 record and no saves in 10.1 innings pitched. He had eight walks and eight strikeouts.

    6. Terry Sanford football stadium demolished

    After years of debate about its future, the oldest and biggest high school football stadium in Fayetteville was torn to the ground.

     That forced this year’s Terry Sanford football and soccer teams to play all of their games away at Reid Ross Classical High School’s John Daskal Stadium.
    The football team played one game at Fayetteville State’s Nick Jeralds Stadium.

    The new stadium won’t be used until the first football game of the 2020 season, which is scheduled on Thursday, Aug. 20, against Lumberton.

    7. Jason Norton leads Pine Forest while battling cancer

    If there was ever a profile in courage, it has to be former Pine Forest athletic director Jason Norton. First diagnosed with cancer in 2016, Norton continued to make a regular commute from his native Hamlet to work as athletic director at Pine Forest.

    He continued to fight to regain his health and remain at Pine Forest until the strain finally forced him to step down as Trojan athletic director, taking temporary leave in September.

    8. Cape Fear ends South View cross country streak

    The Cape Fear boys’ cross country team  ended one of the longest winning streaks in Cumberland County history this season when they halted South View’s run of 21 straight conference cross country championships.
    Jonathan Piland sparked the Colts by placing second in the championship race with a time of 17:04.20.

    Julius Ferguson was third overall for the Colts while Juan Alvarado took fifth, giving Cape Fear three runners in the top five.

    Placing in the top 20 for Cape Fear were Collin Gaddy 10th, Alden Bostic 13th and Colton Danks 20th.

    The Colts went on to place fourth in the regional meet and qualified for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championship meet.

    9. Fayetteville Academy wins state basketball title

    Bill Boyette is no stranger to championship basketball. After a long record of earning titles in public schools, Boyette added a private school championship to his resume.

    Boyette’s Fayetteville Academy boys won the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A championship, defeating Wayne Country Day 64-45 in the title game.

    Fayetteville Academy finished 27-3.

    According to rankings posted at MaxPreps.com, the Eagles were No. 6 in the state among all schools, public and private, and No. 1 in their classification in the NCISAA.

    10. TIE

    Multi-sport standout and football broadcaster Don Koonce dies.

    Don Koonce was one of the greatest multi-sport athletes in Cumberland County history.

    After a successful stint in the minor leagues, he returned to his native county and became involved with the Mid-South Sports broadcasting team as a color commentator.

    Eventually, he branched out on his own, founding DK Sports, Inc., which led to the creation of multiple broadcast teams covering everything from football to basketball to softball.
    Koonce passed away shortly before the 2019 football season started.

    His loss left a void in local high school sports coverage that will be almost impossible to fill.

    Terry Sanford’s Dorian Clark sets school rushing record

    There have been some great running backs at Terry Sanford, names like Nub Smith, Roger Gann, Dwight Richardson and Louis Craft just to list a few.
    But among all of them, Dorian Clark now stands as the all-time leading rusher.

    The senior running back finished his stellar career with the Bulldogs with 5,945 career yards and 67 touchdowns.

    For the season he had 2,346 yards and 33 scores. The former was tops among Cumberland County running backs.


    Picture 1: Tyler Bazzle celebrates his touchdown.

    Picture 2: L-R, Dallas Wilson and Jared Barbour of Cape Fear pose with their championship brackets on the floor of the Greensboro Coliseum after winning NCHSAA state 3-A wrestling titles.


  • 18 01 taitum jamesTaitum James

    Seventy-First • Volleyball • Senior

    James has a grade point average of 3.6. In addition to volleyball, she’s involved with photography. She also officiates volleyball and is
    a youth leader in her church.


    18 02 kaitlyn bradleyKaitlyn Bradley

    Seventy-First • Cheerleader • Junior

    Bradley has a grade point average of 4.25. She is active in the National Honor Society and is the secretary of the junior class.





     Once upon a time while I was waiting to pay a bill, I heard a 92-year-old man say something pretty profound. Quote he, “If we live, we’re gonna get old.” This point, while obvious, merits further consideration. I was reminded of his observation on reading that Mick Jagger is about to become a great-grandfather. Yep, the Street Fighting Man’s granddaughter is going have a baby. Jagger’s new status has implications for the rest of us. If Jagger is going to be a great-grandfather, perhaps time is passing by more quickly than we think. Undoubtably, time will ultimately take us with it.


    Armed with the knowledge that life is fleeting, what should we do about it? I personally suggest deep denial, but that is just me. However, despite the alleged war on Christmas promoted by Fox, you may have noticed that it is Christmas time again. Christmas brings all kinds of events, some deeply theological and some highly commercial. It’s Ying & Yang time. I shall leave the theology to those more knowledgeable about such things. I shall remain in the shallow end of the Christmas pool to ponder the wonders of Yule Tide commercialism.


    Christmas comes but once a year, but it starts in August and lasts until January. It means Christmas movies, TV specials and buying stuff. Let us count the pretty ways of commercialism. The Christmas season begins in earnest with the Pamplona Running of the Bulls style traditional trampling of the customers on Black Friday at the Big-Box Stores. This year Black Friday has moved up to trampling customers on Thanksgiving. How festive!


    My favorite holiday movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which theoretically stars Chevy Chase. The real star is Cousin Eddie. Cousin Eddie is the reason I watch this movie. We all have Cousin Eddies in our lives and Randy Quaid is the Cousin Eddiest of them all. Cousin Eddie shows up at the Griswold’s house in his worn out RV and settles in for the duration. Have you ever had relatives show up at your house and outstay the three-day fish rule? Yep. I knew you had. The great thing about Cousin Eddie is that he doesn’t actually show up at your house. He’s on the TV and you can change the channel. Try changing the channel at your own dinner table when Uncle Howard starts his political rant about the wonders of nuclear power with Aunt Donna who is a dues paying member of the Sierra Club. Ah, Christmas cheer.


        It is not really Christmas until I hear the Barking Dogs canine chorus howl “Jingle Bells.” How can we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas commercialism without the musical accompaniment of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer?” As for me, Grandpa, and the trial lawyers we believe. If Grandma really got run over by a reindeer driven by Saint Nick we are talking serious money damages. Grandpa’s mailbox is going to be jammed with letters from lawyers wanting to bring a wrongful-death action for Grandpa against the jolly old elf who carelessly, reckless and with wanton malice ran over Grandma while she was in a position of helpless peril due to her consumption of egg nog. It’s an ill sleigh accident that doesn’t bring a contingent fee.


       I admit to slightly misting up when Charlie Brown decorates his scraggly Christmas tree at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The tree magically becomes beautiful as the Peanuts gang sings “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” lifting their heads skyward looking like coyotes howling at the moon. It is a beautiful moment. I always look forward to it.


       We get 24 hours of the Christmas Story wherein Ralphie dreams of owning a real carbine action 200 shot range model Red Rider BB rifle with a compass in the stock with which he may very well shoot his eye out. As Ralphie’s mom says “It’s always fun until someone shoots their eye out.” Isn’t Christmas about getting new stuff so as to ward off the misery of the lurking wolf of bitter January winds just around the corner? As John Lennon once wrote, “Happiness is a warm gun.” Ralphie puts up with wearing a pink bunny suit and gets his Red Rider BB gun. This teaches us all the value of persistence in getting what you want at Christmas.


       As John Lennon wrote, “So this is Christmas/And what have you done?/Another year over/And a new one just begun. “ Merry Christmas but don’t shoot your eye out.



  • 17 chop deaverWhen Terry Sanford freshman Christian “Chop” Deaver got an English assignment to write a poem about a topic he was passionate about, he didn’t have to think about his subject.

    It was going to be football, as he tried to put into the words the message he’d been hearing all year long from head coach Bruce McClelland. His resulting work impressed both his English teacher, Ryann McKay, and McClelland.
    “His passion for it really came out in the poem,’’ McKay said. “You could tell that he liked football and is proud to be on the team in his other writings.

    “But the way he truly sees it as a brotherhood and a gift from God, all that kind of stuff, really came through in the poem itself.’’

    McClelland was also impressed. “In all my years of coaching, I’ve never had a kid, especially a first-year kid, get exactly what I’m trying to say,’’ McClelland said. “Everything he said in the poem was like I was talking to him.’’
    Deaver, who got his nickname "Chop" when he was around five because people told him he was thick like a porkchop, doesn’t consider himself a poet at heart.

    “I care about my team and family,’’ Deaver said. “Coach Mac has stressed brotherhood a lot this season. I took that and went with it.’’

    More Than A Game by Chop Deaver

    It is more than a game
    We come out here and we play this great game that God has blessed us with
    But I don’t think we really understand how lucky we are
    It is more than a game
    We have an opportunity to do something great that others don’t have
    There are many other teams out there sitting on their butts at home
    But we don’t seem to notice them
    You know why?
    Because no one notices people who don’t win
    We are winners
    It’s more than a game
    Everyone is dreaming in their sleep about wanting to be a bulldog
    Being a bulldog is something special
    We have some of the best talent in the county, no, we have some of the best talent in the state
    And we take it for granted
    Terry Sanford has been blessed with a tradition of winning
    It’s more than a game
    People have worked their tail off in the past to allow us to be great
    All these coaches come out here and leave their families at home to help you
    Because we love you like you are our own kid
    It is more than a game
    This is a brotherhood that not many people are allowed to say they are a part of
    It should mean something to you
    I’m going to give you my all
    And all I want in return is yours
    Because if not
    We are going to join the couch club
    And be dreaming of other teams in our sleep
    It is more than a game
    I can’t stress how much I want this for you guys
    Play for someone this Friday
    Play for these seniors who have grinder for four years
    Play for your parents who sacrifice a lot for you
    Play for your brothers sitting next to you
    Cause we are all one big family
    And this is football
    It is more than a game
  • 01-01-14-sweet-tea-1.gifJeremy Fiebig has a strong history in theatre. He is the Assistant Professor of Theatre at Fayetteville State University and Managing Director at the Gilbert Theater. He is also the founder of Sweet Tea Shakespeare. Sweet Tea Shakespeare is a two-year-old theatre group that until now has performed outdoors during the summer at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. This January the troupe will perform Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; Or What You Will.

    This growth in Sweet Tea Shakespeare is exciting, but it does not come without challenges. “This is our first winter production after two years of performing exclusively at Cape Fear Botanical Garden,” said Fiebig. “This is our first indoor performance and the first that is not in the summer. It is a challenge because we think differently between the indoors and outdoors. “

    This show is about the twins Viola and Sebastian and their misadventures trying to reunite after a shipwreck separates them. “The show refers to the 12 nights of the Christmas season, the end of the Christmas season. That’s why we scheduled the play for the end of January, when people are beginning new things,” said Fiebig.

    For this performance Sweet Tea Shakespeare will be doing different things, too. There will be two performances at each indoor venue — the Cape Fear Botanical Garden and the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. There will be some differences but Sweet Tea Shakespeare will continue to provide a laid back atmosphere. There is music, fellowship and a play. People are welcome to come early. There will be carols, music, actors talking with people and holiday treats. “It will have the same picnic/ family reunion feel. It will be like a winter gathering over at a friend’s house on a cold night. It feels laid back.” Fiebig says.01-01-14-sweet-tea-2.gif

    Despite being a Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night is still incredibly relevant. Fiebig explained, “The common misconception about Shakespeare is that the way he wrote was old fashioned and old English. Actually, he was inventing some of the language that we use today. This speaks to the connection that many people have to Christmas. It is a bittersweet take on what it means to hang out with friends on a holiday. There is death, comedy and issues of mistaken identity, love and fun. The streak of death and the dark tone really rounds it out. It really speaks to those whose holidays aren’t always happy.”

    Sweet Tea Shakespeare will perform Twelfth Night; Or What You Will at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden Jan. 10 -12. The shows begin at 7 p.m. at 536 N. Eastern Blvd. Performances at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church will be held Jan. 17-19. Shows begin at 7 p.m. at 1601 Raeford Rd. Tickets for garden members are $10, non-member tickets cost $12, student tickets cost $7.50, children tickets (5-12 years old) cost $5, children under 5 are free, and FSU students will be charged $5. To purchase tickets online or for more information visit: www.sweetteashakespeare.com. To purchase tickets by phone from the FSU box office call 910-672-1724.

    Photo: It takes hours of preparation and rehearsals to bring a production to the stage.

  • 16 01 jimmy peadenThe annual Cumberland County Holiday Classic basketball, now in its second year under a major format change, begins a three-day run Thursday, Dec. 19 at five different sites. This year’s tournament is sponsored by the Southeastern Sports Officials Association.

    The boys are divided into the Len Maness and Ike Walker Sr. brackets while the girls will play in the Gene Arrington and Tom Jackson brackets.

    The Maness bracket is at Westover, Walker bracket at Jack Britt, Arrington bracket at South View and Jackson bracket at Gray’s Creek.

    The championship games in all four brackets will be played Saturday, Dec. 21, at Fayetteville State’s Capel Arena. Here’s a brief look at each bracket.

    Len Maness

    16 02 george stackhouseWestover coach George Stackhouse is cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances of winning the Len Maness bracket of this year’s tournament.

    The Wolverines have been sparked by a trio of solid scorers so far, led by D’Marco Dunn, Traymond Willis-Shaw and Darius Jewell.

    As of this writing, Dunn leads Cumberland County Schools scorers with 21.4 points per game.

    Willis-Shaw is averaging 14.2 points and Jewell 13.4.

    “We’ve got to concentrate on doing the small things,’’ Stackhouse said. “Our defense has got to improve. I do like the pieces we have.’’
    Ike Walker Sr.

    16 03 Dee HardyPine Forest coach Jimmy Peaden enters the tournament with a young group of players he feels are buying into playing defense and learning more about offense as the season progresses.
    “We’ve got a fun, young group,’’ he said. “I look forward to coaching them and watching them grow.’’

    Team leaders so far for the Trojans have been Marquis Eskew and Tristin Harkins. Eskew averages 12.5 points per game and Harkins 11.0.

    “I can always look to Marquis to know when a certain play needs to happen, when a certain call needs to be made,’’ Peaden said.

    Pine Forest’s top scorer is Isaiah Washington with 16.8 points per game. Peaden said his team is still working on buying into the halfcourt offense.

    “We can get out and run with anybody,’’ he said. “If we can execute like we’re supposed to, we’ll be a problem.’’

    Gene Arrington

    16 04 nattlie mcarthurAfter a deep run in last year’s state 3-A playoffs, E.E. Smith coach Dee Hardy has been pleased to see her young team quickly regroup from key graduation losses.

    Leading the way so far for the young Bullettes is freshman Miya Giles-Jones with an average of 11.8 points per game.

    “Out of our first six games I know she’s had four double-doubles,’’ Hardy said. “That’s big for a freshman coming in.’’

    Another freshman, Keshiana Murphy, is averaging 9.6 points. Ke’Onna Bryant, the team’s top scorer at 12.0 points per game, has also contributed.

    “We are still young,’’ Hardy said. “We have to fine tune a lot of things.’’

    Tom Jackson

    Jack Britt coach Nattlie McArthur said her young team is learning the system and playing well together so far.

    Terry Sanford transfer Nyla Cooper leads the Britt scoring with 13.3 points per game. Amber Nealy it at 11.5 and Kaya Goldsby at 10.3.

    She expects the tournament to be tough but thinks her team is ready for the challenge.

    “It’s just a matter of making sure we make the right decisions in our transition, continuing to talk on the floor, being vocal and having fun while they are out there,’’ McArthur said.


    Holiday Classic brackets

    Len Maness Bracket
    Thursday, Dec. 19
    at Westover
    4 p.m. - Wilmington Laney vs. E.E. Smith
    5:30 p.m. - Westover at Middle Creek
    7 p.m. - Fayetteville Christian vs. Cape Fear
    8:30 p.m. - Seventy-First vs. Douglas Byrd
    Friday, Dec. 20
    Consolation bracket
    at Westover
    4 p.m. - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
    5:30 p.m. - Loser 3 vs. Loser 4.
    Championship bracket
    7 p.m. - Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
    8:30 p.m. - Winner 3 vs. Winner 4.
    Saturday, Dec. 21
    at Westover
    Consolation bracket
    10:30 a.m. - Loser 5 vs. Loser 6
    12 p.m. - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
    Championship bracket
    at Westover
    1:30 p.m. - Loser 7 vs. Loser 8 (third place)
    at Capel Arena
    8 p.m. - Winner 7 vs. Winner 8 (championship)
    Ike Walker Sr. Bracket
    Thursday, Dec. 19
    at Jack Britt
    4 p.m. - Wilmington Hoggard vs. Gray’s Creek
    5:30 p.m. - Southern Lee vs. South View
    7 p.m. - Terry Sanford vs. Corinth Holders
    8:30 p.m. - Jack Britt vs. Pine Forest
    Friday, Dec. 20
    Consolation bracket
    4 p.m. - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
    5:30 p.m. - Loser 3 vs. Loser 4
    Championship bracket
    7 p.m. - Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
    8:30 p.m. - Winner 3 vs. Winner 4
    Saturday, Dec. 21
    at Jack Britt
    Consolation bracket
    10:30 a.m. - Loser 5 vs. Loser 6
    12 p.m. - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
    Championship bracket
    1:30 p.m. - Loser 7 vs. Loser 8 (third place)
    at Capel Arena
    4 p.m. - Winner 7 vs Winner 8
    Gene Arrington Bracket
    Thursday, Dec. 19
    at South View
    4 p.m. - Scotland vs. South View
    5:30 p.m. - Wilmington Hoggard vs. Douglas Byrd
    7 p.m. - E.E. Smith vs. Corinth Holders
    8:30 p.m. - Seventy-First vs. Westover
    Friday, Dec. 20
    Consolation bracket
    4 p.m. - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
    5:30 p.m. - Loser 3 vs. Loser 4
    Championship bracket
    7 p.m. - Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
    8:30 p.m. - Winner 3 vs. Winner 4
    Saturday, Dec. 21
    Consolation bracket
    10:30 a.m. - Loser 5 vs. Loser 6
    12 p.m. - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
    Championship bracket
    1:30 p.m. - Loser 7 vs. Loser 8 (third place)
    at Capel Arena
    2 p.m. - Winner 7 vs. Winner 8 (championship)
    Tom Jackson Bracket
    Thursday, Dec. 19
    at Gray’s Creek
    4 p.m. - Gray’s Creek vs. East Bladen
    5:30 - Cape Fear vs. Union Pines
    7 p.m. - Terry Sanford vs. Garner Magnet
    8:30 p.m. - Pine Forest vs. Jack Britt
    Friday, Dec. 20
    Consolation bracket
    4 p.m. - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
    5:30 p.m. - Loser 3 vs. Loser 4
    Championship bracket
    7 p.m. - Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
    8:30 p.m. - Winner 3 vs. Winner 4
    Saturday, Dec. 21
    Consolation bracket
    10:30 a.m. - Loser 5 vs. Loser 6
    12 p.m. - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
    Championship bracket
    1:30 p.m. - Loser 7 vs. Loser 8 (third place)
    at Capel Arena
    6 p.m. - Winner 7 vs. Winner 8 (championship)
  • 20 Micheal WarrenIntense competitor and exceedingly generous.

    Those were the most frequent words used to describe former Pine Forest High School and Elon University football star Micheal Warren, who recently passed away at the age of 37.

    Pastor Alex Dorman of the Lillington Pentecostal Worship Center delivered Warren’s funeral message. Dorman knew Warren a little over 10 years and said he was as generous a person as he’d ever met.

    Dorman recalled a time when his son’s dog was run over and killed. Just days later, a new dog of the same breed, complete with American Kennel Club paperwork, showed up at the Dorman home. 

    “Mike did it,’’ Dorman said. “He wouldn’t ever own up to it, but he did it, just like the Bible would say, ‘heartily and unto the Lord.’’’

    Warren first became a star at Pine Forest, playing for a trio of men who would all be head football coaches. His head coach was Dean Saffos and his position coaches were future Pine Forest head coach Bill Sochovka and future Jack Britt and Scotland coach Richard Bailey.

    “He did everything we asked him to do and he did it with 100 percent, with great intensity,’’ Saffos said.

    Saffos said Warren turned down multiple college football scholarships to walk on at N.C. State. Things didn’t work out with the Wolfpack so he transferred to Elon, where he became an all-conference player. He had a brief career with a couple of NFL teams, then eventually relocated to Texas where he operated a ranch that specialized in rehabilitating bulls injured in rodeo competitions.

    Sochovka was one of Warren’s position coaches at Pine Forest. “He just had no fear of anybody playing against him,’’ Sochovka said. “He was hard-working and never knew when to quit. He just loved the game.’’

    Bailey was first impressed with Warren when he, Sochovka and Saffos were watching him play on the kickoff team for the Pine Forest junior varsity.

    “Every time on the kickoff he ran down and made the tackle,’’ Bailey said. “I said that kid right there is going to be a linebacker. He has a nose for the ball. He would run through people to make the tackle.’’

    During his time at Pine Forest, Warren grew an inch taller and gained about 40 pounds Bailey said. “He worked hard in the weight room,’’ Bailey said.

    Warren had a close connection with his teammates that was visible at his funeral as many of his defensive cohorts form 1999 traveled to attend the service.

    “That group in 1999 had a special bond,’’ Bailey said. “That defense was the best I ever coached. He was a big part of that.’

  • 21 01 carlosCarlos Villarreal

    Pine Forest • Soccer • Senior

    Villarreal is a member of the varsity soccer team and has a 4.2 weighted grade point average. In his free time Villarreal enjoys participating in travel soccer and volunteering at the Cumberland County Animal Shelter.


    Elizabeth Johnson

    Pine Forest• Bowling• Senior

    Johnson is a member of the Trojan bowling team. She has a 4.2 weighted grade point average. Her other interests include competing in SkillsUSA events and working on computers as part of the Academy of Information Technology.

    21 02 elizabeth johnson

  • 19 01 rodney brewingtonHere is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference football team as chosen by the league’s head coaches:

    Coach of the year

    Rodney Brewington, South View

    Athlete of the year

    Matthew Pemberton, South View

    Offensive player of the year

    Dorian Clark, Terry Sanford

    19 02 jackson deaverDefensive player of the year

    Jackson Deaver, Terry Sanford

    First team
    Offensive line

    Caleb Krings, Cape Fear
    Terry McLaughlin, Gray’s Creek
    Ethan Denzer, South View
    Dejon Gilliam, Overhills
    Darrius Johnson, E.E. Smith

    Wide receivers

    Yates Johnson, Terry Sanford
    Kevin Brewington, South View
    Nasir McDaniel, Overhills
    Jailen Hobbs, Overhills
    Bryan Davis, E.E. Smith

    19 03 Matthew PembertonRunning backs

    Keyshown Lindsey, Westover
    Jerry Garcia, Gray’s Creek

    Jacob Knight, Terry Sanford

    Tight end

    Ezemdi Udoh, Terry Sanford


    19 04 dorian clarkMason Smith, Cape Fear


    Mason Smith, Cape Fear

    Defensive line

    Markell Samuels, E.E. Smith
    Joel Evans, South View
    Elijah Morris, Terry Sanford
    Kendall Evans, Gray’s Creek


    Justin McLintock, Gray’s Creek
    Mark Burks, Cape Fear
    Donta Autry, South View
    DeShaun Rivera, South View

    Defensive backs

    Tyquan Hayes, Terry Sanford
    Dujuan Lockhart, South View
    Timel Smith, South View
    Randy Franklin, E.E. Smith

    Second team
    Offensive line

    Nahala Moore, Westover
    Arden Billington, Douglas Byrd
    Garrett Crockett, Gray’s Creek
    Christian Deaver, Terry Sanford
    Taeveon Dove, South View

    Wide receivers

    Devon Marshall, Westover
    Israel Reuben, Terry Sanford
    Jemel McLean, Pine Forest
    Daniel Dawson, E.E. Smith

    Running backs

    D.J. Jones, Pine Forest
    Cayden McKethan, Cape Fear


    Chris Perkins, Overhills

    Tight end

    Josh George, South View

    Defensive line

    Remmington Workman, Westover
    Zion Cameron, Douglas Byrd
    Jarvis Higgins, Terry Sanford
    Xavier Johnson, Pine Forest
    Nic Minnicapelli, Cape Fear


    Jarvis Dudley, E.E. Smith
    Bernard Flerlage, Pine Forest
    Isaiah Locklear, Douglas Byrd
    Jerry Smith, Overhills

    Defensive backs

    Xjavian McMillian, Westover
    Dalton Patrick, Gray’s Creek
    Chad McDonald, Terry Sanford
    Jaysen Smalls, Overhills

    Honorable mention
    Offensive line

    Douglas Byrd - Zyon McEachin.
    Cape Fear - Mike Wesolowski, Chason Bryant
    South View - Michael Herbert
    Pine Forest - John Sullivan, Seth Smith, Blake Marshburn
    Terry Sanford - Hayden Honeycutt
    E.E. Smith - Anthony Morris

    Running backs

    South View - Tyrese Harris
    Terry Sanford - Jre Jackson
    Pine Forest - Jaden Jones
    E.E. Smith - Dashawn McCullough

    Tight end

    Cape Fear - Nic Minicapelli

    Defensive line

    Cape Fear - Darrick Whitted
    Gray’s Creek - Jalen Johnson
    South View - Michael Herbert, Mahlik Gonzalez
    Pine Forest - Chris Green


    Gray’s Creek - Josiah Arreguin
    Cape Fear - Micah Nelson
    South View - Marzea Saunders, Christian Ray
    Terry Sanford - Sequan Smith

    Defensive backs
    Douglas Byrd - Glendell Herring
    Cape Fear - James Sealy, Lamon Lockamy
    Terry Sanford - Maurice Jones
    South View - Ahmir Ashley
    E.E. Smith - Trevon Hinton
  • 18 01 Chris LucasHere is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference tennis team as chosen by the league’s head coaches:

    Coach of the year
    Chris Lucas, Cape Fear

    Player of the year

    Kelcie Farmer, Pine Forest

    First team

    Terry Sanford - Katy Beasley, Lauren McDonough, Mary Anna Stiles
    Cape Fear - Brooke Bieniek, Paige Cameron
    Pine Forest - Kelcie Farmer

    18 02 kelcie farmerDoubles

    Cape Fear - Paige Cameron, Kensey Thurmond
    Pine Forest - Kelcie Farmer, Bella Fish
    Terry Sanford - Lauren McDonough, Carolina Beasley

    Second team

    Gray’s Creek - Courtney Cygan, Morgan Valentin-Gordon, Kaylee Ledford
    Pine Forest - Torah Delaney, Bella Fish
    Cape Fear - Kensey Thurmond
    18 03 Paige CameronTerry Sanford - Katy Beasley, Mary Anna Stiles
    Cape Fear - Dajia Rucker, Brooke Bieniek
    Gray’s Creek - Morgan Valentin-Gordon, Kaylee Ledford
    18 04 brooke bienik
  • 11 01 jonathan pilandJonathan Piland

    Cape Fear • Indoor/outdoor track • Senior

    Piland has a grade point average of 4.62. He is a member of the Natural Science Academy, the county youth orchestra, all-county orchestra, East Regional orchestra and the N.C. Honors orchestra. He works in the freshman mentoring program as a lead mentor. He’s active with the Lebanon Baptist Church praise team and the Snyder Baptist Church Singing Christmas Tree.


    Walker Brittain

    Cape Fear• Soccer• Senior

    11 02 walker brittainBrittain has a grade point average of 4.46. He is active in speech and debate, the Environmental Club, Harvard Model Congress, Common Ground Initiative, Student Government Association, the BETA Club and journalism. He’s also a freshman mentor and has served as a page for the North Carolina governor as well as in the North Carolina state house.

  • 10 01 cape fear picAs far as Cumberland County’s high school wrestling gurus can remember, there’s only been one three-time state individual champion in the sport in county history.

    That honor falls to former Jack Britt star Richard “PNut” Tolston, who finished third in the state when he wrestled for Hoke County in 2012 then won three straight state titles as a Buccaneer from 2013-15.

    This fall, Cape Fear’s Dallas Wilson, son of Colt head coach Heath Wilson who is also a former state champion, will seek to become the second county wrestler with three state championships.

    Heath won his second title last year, competing at 138 pounds. It’s sure he’ll move up in weight classification this season but it likely won’t be until after Christmas before Heath and his father settle on which class Dallas will be competing in for his third state title.

    Heath Wilson said his son has reached a level of high school wrestling where he’s forgotten more about the sport than Heath knew during his competitive days. “My biggest problem is finding somebody to push him to the next level,’’ Heath said of his son.

    10 02 dallas and jaredOne way he’s pushed Dallas to a higher level is by taking him to top national competitions, like the big freestyle tournament held over the summer in Fargo, North Dakota. “In Fargo, I saw a totally different, very aggressive wrestler come out,’’ Heath said. “He came out banging.’’

    Dallas ran into a three-time state champion from Tennessee and rolled to a win.

    “He’s at a new level,’’ Heath said.

    Among the biggest challenges Dallas will face this year is the pressure of expectations, but Heath doesn’t expect that to be a problem. “It’s really nonexistent after all these other places we’ve traveled to,’’ Heath said. “In North Carolina he’s got the confidence that he’s the best wrestler.

    “The biggest pressure he puts on himself is every day in that practice room. He’s the hardest-working kid I’ve got. That’s contagious. I like it to be contagious.’’

    Dallas agreed with his dad that he’s become a more aggressive wrestler, coping better with opponents who stay in his face and won’t back off, working harder to fight the opposition with his hands and find different angles of attack to knock them off balance.

    “You’ve got to be mean,’’ he said. “You’ve got to have that grit. I definitely picked it up this summer. I have no excuse to lose in a state that I’ve won twice.’’

    The rest of the Cape Fear team will be seeking the same grit as it tries to bounce back from a second-place finish to St. Stephens High School in last year’s state 3-A dual team championship wrestling match.

    The top individual returners for the Colts are Dallas and 220-pound Nick Minacapelli, who placed third in the state in his class last season. He’ll be a late arrival this season because of his involvement with football.

    “We are looking for the second-stringers to come on strong this year,’’ Wilson said. “They’ve got to perform. I’m just waiting for that first scrimmage to see what comes out of our kids.’’
    Wrestlers Heath will count on early are Jaleel Parks, Jack Culbreth, Jose Paz and Aiden Barbour, who is the younger brother of graduated state champion Jared Barbour.

  • Every year my son and I bundle up, fill our thermoses with hot chocolate and head down to the Christmas12-08-10-parade.gif parade that runs through the center of our city. It is as much a part of our holiday tradition as tree trimming or getting together with family. Just the sight of the large colorful floats, marching bands and of course, Santa Claus, lets you know that the holiday season is upon us.

    However, this will be our first year attending a parade in Fayetteville, and we are excited to see what is in store for us. The grand marshall of this year’s parade is Boomerang Cartoon Networks Scooby Doo, who is appearing courtesy of Channel 14 Carolina News. Scooby won’t be joined by the rest of his gang, but he will be joined by 10 Cumberland County bands, homemade and commercial floats and more than 90 entries. Oganizers believe this year’s parade is sure to be stellar.

    For more than 20 years the parade has been put together by the members of the Fayetteville Rotary Club, a group of men that was formed to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards and help promote goodwill and peace in the world. In 1999, once they discovered there was to be no Christmas procession that year, they decided to band together with two other local Rotary Clubs to take on this excellent community service project. The members organized every detail of the parade themselves, proving that they live by their motto, “Service before self.” With the first year’s parade planner called away, Johnson Chestnut and Matthew Smith stepped up agreeing to cochair, and have been in charge ever since.

    Smith says this year’s parade is “A parade for the children of Cumberland County to not only observe and enjoy, but also participate in. We have invited one child from each of the Cumberland County schools to ride in one of the Rotary floats in the Christmas parade. It gives them an opportunity that they may never have again in a lifetime.”

    Many local businesses are pitching in and lending their support to make this parade a spectacular one as well, including Taco Bell, Long John Silvers and Time Warner Cable.

    “This will be the 11th year that we have put this parade on, and we have been both overwhelmed and touched by the response from our sponsors,” said Smith.

    The procession will begin at 11 a.m and will start at Person Street, go to the Market House, then Hay Street and end at the Amtrak Station. If by chance you cannot make it downtown to see the parade in person, don’t fret, it will be televised on Channel 14 (although it will be time delayed and won’t be aired until 6 p.m. Saturday) and will be available On Demand the following week.

    Come out and and catch the holiday spirit at this year’s 2010 Rotary Parade — and don’t forget your hot chocolate!

    Don't miss the Christmas Parade on Dec. 11.

  • 12-3-14-cumberland-oratorio.gifThe members of the Cumberland Oratorio Singers are passionate about chorale music. They are passionate about the community, too. Each year the organization performs several concerts, many of them in partnership with other organizations. While Director of Choral Activities and Music Education at Methodist University Dr. Michael Martin does an outstanding job of bringing a variety of chorale productions to the community, the one that does not change from year to year is the December performance of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” This year, the performance is set for Dec. 13 at St. Ann Catholic Church.

    “We are performing the first section of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ for the concert. Specifically, it is called ‘Part the First,’ which deals primarily with the birth of Christ,” said Martin. “This is why this first part is so popular during the holiday season, although some places do the entire ‘Messiah’ work. The chorus of ‘Hallelujah’ is actually borrowed from ‘Part the Second,’ yet we include it as it is a traditional part of the Christmas holiday season.”

    Not only is this annual performance of “Messiah” a gift to the community, it is one of the many ways that the members of The Cumberland Oratorio Singers reach out to fellow singers and musicians, and people in the area who appreciate music.

    “What I most enjoy about this performance is the community aspect of it all,” said Martin. “We hire a professional orchestra and we hire professional soloists. However, our chorus is made up of ‘volunteer’ professionals, if you will, that come from every corner of our community. This event also invites people who would otherwise not have the opportunity to sing this piece, and maybe haven’t since college, to perform it with us. These types of presentations of ‘Messiah’ are quite popular during the holidays, so it is not unique to Fayetteville. The best part of this event is about building our sense of community; it always will be.”

    If people would like to participate, they are welcome to attend the last Monday rehearsals with the orchestra on Dec. 1 at Highland Presbyterian Church and Dec. 8 at St. Ann Church. All rehearsals are from 7-9 p.m. Participants need to supply their own music. If making the practice is not an option, people are still welcome to perform. On the night of the concert, anyone wishing to perform needs to tell the greeters that they would like to sing along and they will be directed to areas where they can stand and sit without disrupting the experience of those who have come just to listen. There is no special dress for the concert.

    One of the ways that The Cumberland Oratorio Singers keeps performances fresh is by featuring different soloists. This year, Jeffrey Jones, who is on the faculty of Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, is the bass soloist. Anne Rogers, music director at St. Patrick’s Church, will sing the soprano solo. Brenda Vandervort (mezzo soprano) and Melvin Ezzel (tenor) have performed with the group before and continue to be an asset to the organization.

    Unlike many other pieces, during “Messiah”, the audience stands for the chorus. “I think audiences always wonder why people stand for the chorus of ‘Hallelujah.’ Theories abound, the most common being that King George II, attending the London premiere of ‘Messiah’ in March of 1743, was so moved by the ‘Hallelujah’ that he stood up,” said Martin. “If the king stands, everybody stands. The only problem is that there is no evidence that he was even at the concert; newspapers and eyewitnesses do not report any royal presence. People are welcome to survey the myriad of research out there as to all the speculation. However, I think it is a great tradition and, if anything, draws the whole audience and participants in at the end of a long performance.”

    The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.singwithcos.org.

    Photo: One of the sounds of the season in Cumberland County is the annual presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Cumberland Oratorio Singers. As in years past, community members are in-vited to join the group on Dec. 13 and sing along. 

  • 12-17-14-bcpe.gif“The Herdman’s were the worst kids in the whole history of the world...”

    After 23 years of presenting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre continues to touch audiences with the spirit of the Christmas season.

    Year after year, hundreds of children vie for their chance to grace the stage as Beth, Glady’s, Charlie, Imogene and even the tiniest baby angel or shepherd, wearing his father’s bathrobe. And each year, proud parents and theatre goers sit in the audi ence shedding tears, not just for delight of their own children, but for the touching moment when Imogene Herdman and her clan begin to fully understand the meaning of Christmas.

    The story of the Herdman family is not a new one. In fact, the idea of a poor family without manners who bullies other children and infiltrates the church Christmas pageant simply for cookies and candy, is all too common in this day in time.

    No one in the church, including the minister, wants to give the Herdmans a chance to be a part of the annual Christmas pageant. Reluctantly, Grace Bradley, first time director of the pageant, assigns the lead roles of Mary, Joseph, the Wisemen and the Angel of the Lord to the Herdman clan. Mischief soon befalls. The children never get through one full rehearsal of the pageant due to the Herdman’s questions about the Bible, “What are the wadded up clothes?”

    “They just put Jesus in a feed box! Where was the child welfare?” and the group’s cigar-smoking shenanigans that leads to a small fire at the church.

    When all is said and done, the spirit of Christmas overcomes the family as well as church members and pageant participants as they watch a very touching transformation.

    As an audience member in Saturday’s matinee performance, I too, shed tears as I watched the story unfold. BCPE has become a “foot in the door” to theatre for many local children. Some we have even watched grow up in aother productions at the CFRT, after they’ve gotten their first taste of the stage through BCPE. It’s always a pleasure to watch children deliver their first lines on our local stage and others shine from their adorable portrayals of these characters.

    One shining star in this performance was Gladys Herdman, played by Savannah Reese Toman. When performed well, the character of Gladys should steal the show with her rants of “Shazam!” and impersonation of the “Mighty Marvo” comic book character. Savannah was no exception. She delivered each of her lines with precision and meaning. She was animated and adorable and even at such a young age, she seemed to really understand everything she said.

    My only disappointment with BCPE? The CFRT continues to videotape the part of Mrs. Armstrong. This character, written in the script as an onstage character, used to be performed LIVE by some of the great local female comedians of Fayetteville — the late Ann Tosco who played the original Mrs. Armstrong and the great Bo Thorp. Tosco was originally wheeled around the stage in a hospital bed which helped build the intimacy of the play and kept the humorous character live. While Thorp still plays the character on screen, I believe the CFRT misses some great laughs from Armstrong (Thorp) by placing her on video, which the audience is lead to perceive as “Facetime” via an iphone. In a world where everything seems to be changing so fast and technology is everywhere, can’t we just keep some things traditional? It would be nice, in this writer’s opinion, to forego the cellphones and video on stage and take the audience back to a time where everything was a little slower and a little more intimate.

    Even with that said, I would be remiss if I did not tell you, if you are looking for a chance to spend an hour of quality time with your family, take them to see The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. There is no doubt if you see it once, you will make it a part of your family’s Christmas traditions.

  •     “Father God I am clay in your hands, help to stay that with through all of life’s demands because they chip and they nag and they pull at me and every little thing I make up my mind to be …. And I pray that I’m an artist that rises above the road that is wide and full of self-love.”
        Those are the words that kick-off Toby Mac’s “Lose My Soul,” one of the singles from his latest offering Portable Sounds. The singer/songwriter, who has been called “one of the 50 most influential evangelical leaders in America,” will headline Winter Jam 2009, one of the biggest Contemporary Christian tours to hit the roads. The 10-week tour brings together some of Christian music’s biggest names for a “house party” that is more about touching the soul than raising the roof.
        {mosimage}In addition to great music, the tour brings evangelist Tony Nolan to the stage to share the word of God in an environment designed to open hearts and change lives. Nolan, the son of a homeless, mentally-ill prostitute, was put in foster care where he suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of his own foster parents. For the first three years of his life, he was repeatedly sexually abused, brutally beaten and thrown down flights of stairs for sport and burned with cigarettes when he refused to perform perverted sexual acts. At age 3, Tony was adopted by a poor and dysfunctional family for only $200. His adopted father beat and verbally abused Tony regularly. In drunken rages he would often look at Tony in disgust and demand, “Is this all my $200 got me?! I wish I’d never bought you.”
        By the age of 13, he was hooked on drugs and looking for a way out. While contemplating suicide, Nolan was given the word of God, and it not only touched his life, it changed it. Since then, he has seen his role as “helping people get it about God’s great love and salvation.” One way he does that is participating in events like Winter Jam.
    Since its inception, Winter Jam has consistently led Pollstar’s rankings in attendance. This past year was no different. In 2008, the tour averaged 9,172 in nightly attendance, which gave it a ranking of fourth in Pollstar’s first quarter ticket sales, topping Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, the Police and the Foo Fighters. More important to the event organizers than the numbers is the people whose lives are changed — and that goes beyond ticket sales, but unless people are there, organizers understand they can’t hear the “life changing” gospel of Jesus.
        When you look at the sheer number and fame of the bands on the lineup, you would think the tickets would be through the roof. But that isn’t the case. Winter Jam has, from the beginning, had a “no tickets” policy that allows concert attendees to pay a flat $10 fee at the door for admission. That’s a lot of  bang for your buck.
    Winter Jam comes to the Crown Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 10. The show starts at 6 p.m.
        This year’s lineup includes punk pop group Hawk Nelson, Brandon Heath (the GMA New Artist of the Year,) Francesca Battistelli and Stephanie Smith. At select dates, The Afters, Family Force 5 and BarlowGirl will also be on stage. That kind of lineup makes the wait at the box office well worth the price.
        TobyMac says it is his passion that keeps his music relevant. “Passion for my art drives me so long as I feel the Most High breathing new songs through me,” he said. “Over the years, I have noticed some consistency in what I appeal to God for, like ‘Help me remember what this is all about … God, I don’t want to be that jaded man. I don’t want to be that hardened artist. I want to remain soft in your hands, so that you can shape me into a vessel that you can breathe through’ … I expected great, amazing things while recording this record. I’m not talking about sales or first week numbers or critics. I’m talking about people’s lives being touched.”

        Contact Janice Burton at editor@upandcomingweekly.com
  • SKYLINE (Rated PG-13) 3 Stars

    Todd and Amy hated it. Shane loved it. You know what? I found Skyline (92 minutes) utterly delightful. It was12-08-10-skyline.gif easily the best B-movie I’ve seen since The Mist (the first movie I ever reviewed, for those of you keeping a file). Ok, the film had its flaws. The acting was ludicrous. The characters were next to unlikable. The dialogue was sexist, outdated, and uninteresting. The “aliens” resembled rubber leftovers from a bad Godzilla costume. Nevertheless, for a cheaply made independent science fiction movie it was absolute perfection!

    Jarrod (Eric Balfour, AKA toe sucker from Six Feet Under) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) are awakened under mysterious circumstances. This teaser leads into a flashback that provides some backstory on the couple. The first important thing we find out is that Jarrod is a real square-jawed hero type. He is a polite and well-bred young artist, sensitive to the needs of others and aware of the myriad obligations that friendship entails. Other than that he is kind of an immature jerk, but take the bad with the good. Elaine is a bit of a cardboard cutout, but she is super pretty and reminds me of Milla Jovovich, so she can stay.

    The couple has flown into Los Angeles to celebrate best friend Terry’s (Donald Faison, AKA Murray from Clueless) birthday. They enjoy the party despite some awkward moments between Terry’s girlfriend Candice (Brittany Daniel, AKA Jessica Wakefield from Sweet Valley High) and Terry’s “confidential secretary” (Crystal Reed).

    Finally, we get back to the scene that started it all, and we find out that an invasive light is compelling people to do stupid things while creating a totally gnarly black vine tattoo thing on whatever part of their bodies it touches. The men-folk head out to investigate (naturally), where they get to scream and run and bear witness to all the messed up alien stuff that the FX boys could put together on short notice.

    Eventually they smarten up and retreat to their penthouse sanctuary. Of course, they immediately retreat to an inner room, fill up the bathtub and sinks with water, and ration supplies while developing a brilliant plan to evade and escape. HAHAHA. That so didn’t happen, because the characters are way dumber than the average bear! The twits decide to leave the relative safety of the condo and drive to the nearby marina, which works out as well as you imagine, considering the brain trust behind the plan.

    On their way back into sanctuary they hook up with random concierge Oliver (David Zayas AKA Batista from Dexter). Oliver tries to bring the machismo, but his clearly superior skills are sucked into the massive black hole of idiocy created by two incompetents trying to out-stupid each other. That’s when the smoking, drinking, and fighting starts. Enter the Air Force! Surely they will save the day!

    Nope. It’s just not that kind of movie. Instead of the Air Force saving the day, they up the ante by causing even more destruction, which is as awesome as it sounds. It is clear that the body count is going to mount up since there are way too many characters for the audience to develop a real emotional connection. In short order, alien pods, tankers, floaters, and matrix-style technosquids start sucking up delicious brains and coating captured humans with some righteous oily black slime.

    So, overall I was laughing hysterically through most of the movie. There are a ton of plot holes, the narrative timeline is all screwed up, and the movie is filled with B-list “actors” elevated to relevancy by the presence of one David Zayas, who has some pretty good work under his belt. In other words, you need to see this immediately.

  • uac121510001.gif Those living in small apartments or the big city could use some gadget-friendly help asthey go about their day.

    Smarter Sound: Have a quieter commute or just tune out the neighbors with PhiatonNoise Cancelling Earphones PS 20 NC. The in-ear headset has noise blockingtechnology that maximizes the quality of music from their MP3 players whileminimizing outside interference. The lightweight earphones use one AAA battery andcome with inline volume control and a choice of silicone earbuds. (www.phiaton.com)

    Stay Connected: A recent National Health Interview Survey showed that nearly twothirdsof adults who shared an apartment or house with unrelated roommates reportedhaving only mobile phones, making that group the most likely to be completelywireless and struggling withdroppedor missed calls.To help with cell phone signal issues, the roommatefriendly zBoost-METRO Cell Phone Signal Booster, fromWi-Ex, works with multiple users and multiple carrierssimultaneously. Its antenna mounts to a window and comeswith everything they need to cover 1,500 square feet.

    Gadget Grands Keep the grandparents up to speed with easy-to-use technologythat keeps them connected to the family.

    Picture This: Upgrade their family photo collection with a Bluetooth Enabled DigitalPicture Frame from Portable USA.It has a 10.4-inch LCD display with 640 x 480 resolution. You can upload new pictures from your phone. In addition to showing pictures, it will play video, music and text. It has a USB connector and 2 memory card slots in addition to 256MB of internalmemory, and comes with two wood frames.(www.amazon.com)

    Get Face Time: If their computer doesn’t have a built-in video camera, the compactMicrosoft LifeCam VX-500 is ideal. It has a 1.3 megapixel sensor that shoots VGAvideo and captures twice as much light as other devices, for a much clearer picture. Ithas a flexible base that lets them adjust the angle, and a built-in mic. It’s optimized forWindows Live Messenger, but also works with Skype, AIM and Yahoo Messenger. Itcomes in three fun colors. (www.store.microsoft.com)

    On-the-Go JoesTravel junkies and vacationing families need gadgets that will stand up to the rigors ofbeing on the road.

    Extreme Video: Whether it’s on a bicycle’s handlebars or strapped to a surfboard,the ATC9K All-TerrainVideo Camera fromOregon Scientificcan take a hit. It’sa durable, shockresistantunit thatcaptures 5-megapixelstills as well as 1080pHD video. It alsohas a G-Sensor thattracks measurementsfor speed, hang time,angle of movement and other motion stats, and a laser pointer that lets them linethe camera up with whatever they want to shoot. (www2.oregonscientific.com)

    Waterproof Reading: Keep their Kindle dry with the M-Edge GuardianWaterproof Case. It will float on the water’s surface for hands-free reading. Itscustom-molded interior and mounting pads give cushioned support, and it also hasflexible sealed cutouts so they can access the controls. As an extra security measure,there’s a ring at the bottom of the case so it can be strapped to a lanyard or belt.(www.medgestore.com)

    iWorkers The number of people working from their homes seems to grow every day. Get youriWorker set up right with these gadgets.

    Consistent Coverage: Cell phones are essential communication tools for teleworkers,and when they don’t get signal, it makes work even more work. The zBoost-SOHODual Band Cell Phone Signal Booster supports multiple phones simultaneously andgives them the coverage they need to work through the whole house (up to 3,500 sqft; including aircards, EDGE and 3G Technology). (www.wi-ex.com)

    Charge It: Keep all the essential office gadgets charged up with Energizer’sInductive Charging Station. With two large inductive charging zones that don’trequire locking the device into a parti cular position, your iWorker can just settheir phone (and two other devices) down and it will get charged up. It has a USBport to allow users to charge additional devices such as cameras or GPS units.(www.target.com)

    Custom Caffeine: No office would be complete without a coffeemaker. TheAeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker from Aerobie lets anyone brew Americanstyle or Espresso style coffees for use in lattes or cappuccinos. It has a totalimmersionsystem that mixes water and grounds at a moderate temper ature, thengentle air pressure pushes the mix into a micro-filter, resulting in a smooth, richbrew in just 30 seconds. Visit www.aerobie.com to find a retailer near you.


  • Pitt DickeyHi there, calendar fans. Once again, it's the most wonderful time of the year, the blur between Christmas and New Year's Day. Time for the annual column wishing a happy 100th birthday to the year that reaches the century mark. Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, 1922 will be celebrating its 100th birthday during all of 2022. 1922 was a year chock full o' nuts and surprises, some of which still resonate today. For example, Betty White, America's sweetheart, was born on January 17, 1922. She hits the big triple digits in 2022.

    In January 1922, Fred Banting celebrated the first successful use of insulin for diabetes. One hundred years later, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi have over 90% of the insulin market. They have been jacking up the price ever since. Old Fred would turn over in his grave if he knew what had happened to his invention. January 1922 wasn't all bad news as the first patent for Eskimo Pie was issued.

    In February, James Joyce published "Ulysses," a literary masterpiece, that no one reads. Zillions more people have eaten Eskimo Pies than have read "Ulysses." Fun fact, in 2021, Eskimo Pie changed its name to Edy's Pie in a fit of wokeness. It tastes the same, but the name has changed to protect the sensitive. March brought the silent horror film "Nosferatu" to the silver screen, spawning a gusher of vampire movies that continues to this day. April brought the Tea Pot Dome scandal to the administration of President Warren G. Harding, possibly leading to the phrase "a tempest in a teapot." May saw the beginning of construction at Yankee Stadium, which became the home of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, culminating in George Steinbrenner hiring George Costanza as Assistant to the Traveling Secretary of the Yankees. World events took most of the summer of 1922 off, resuming with some exciting happenings in November when the Ottoman Empire was defeated, ending over 600 years of rule by a kingdom based on footstools. In November, Howard Carter and his archeologists discovered the tomb of King Tut, which had lain undisturbed for more than 3000 years. Desecration of Tut's tomb led to the unleashing of the Curse of King Tut, causing many of the Carter party to die mysteriously shortly after waking the dead. These deaths spawned numerous horror movies involving mummies and Boris Karloff. Steve Martin performed a musical tribute to Tut, singing and dancing his way into your heart doing the "King Tut Strut." Ponder some of Mr. Martin's elegant lines eulogizing King Tut:

    Buried with a donkey
    He's my favorite honkey
    Born in Arizona
    Moved to Babylonia
    Dancing' by the Nile
    The ladies love his style
    Rockin' for a mile
    He ate a crocodile.

    Archeology doesn't get any funkier than this. Thanks, Steve, for keeping King Tut real.

    1922 brought several famous people into the world. It also brought more non-famous into creation; the non-famous ones are too numerous to name, but rest assured they were out there. America's most famous bald detective Telly Savalas came into the world in January. Audrey Meadows, who became famous as Ralph Kramden's wife Alice on "The Honeymooners," arrived in February. Ralph's constant threats to knock Alice to the moon jangle in light of today's standards, but in the 1950s, everybody laughed. March was a big month for famous babies: William Gaines, who became the publisher of Mad Magazine and spiritual father of Alfred E. Newman of What Me Worry fame, first drew breath in March. Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, arrived in March. Jack Kerouac, the author of "On the Road" and proto-type beatnik, showed up in March. Another March baby was Russ Meyer, who produced classic adult movies like "Faster Pussy Cat! Kill, Kill," "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," "Mudhoney," "MotorPsycho," "Amazon Women on the Moon" and "The Immoral Mr. Teas." They don't write titles like that anymore. April brought us Doris Day, on-screen girlfriend of Rock Hudson. Other April babies included Gale Storm, Barbara Hale, Perry Mason's paralegal, and Jack Klugman, the sloppy half of "The Odd Couple." May produced Nancy Walker, AKA Jane Hathaway, on "The Beverly Hillbillies." Judy Garland from the "Wizard of Oz" appeared in June.

    George McGovern appeared in July just in time to cause Richard Nixon to order the Watergate burglary. Yvonne DeCarlo, who played Mrs. Herman Munster, was a September baby. Charles Schultz of "Peanuts" fame emerged in November.

    Saving the best for last, Redd Foxx of "Sanford and Son" came along in December. When things would go wrong, Redd would fake having a heart attack, clutch his chest, look heavenward, and announce: "Elizabeth, I'm coming to join you. It's the big one!"

    So, there you have it. 1922 was a swell year. It has a lot of candles on its birthday cake.

    If you consume an adult beverage on New Year's Eve, kindly raise a glass to 1922.

  • nativityThe true meaning of Christmas. It's a phrase we often tuck into a meaningful sentence after spending too much, going too much or simply having too much on our schedule during December.

    Beyond the phrase, the true meaning of Christmas is something I want to embrace. But in all honesty, I'm not sure there's not a singular meaning that can be attached to the notion ­— or celebration — of Christmas. For those of us in the Christian faith, the celebration centers around the birth of Jesus Christ. The story itself is full of miracles and surprising answers to hard questions.

    So what is the true meaning of Christmas? For the shepherds, it meant being included. Their rough, smelly work on the outskirts of society relegated them to spending more time with each other or alone with their sheep than any time hanging out in nearby establishments. But it was these outsiders to whom the news of the Messiah's birth was first announced. Can you imagine their fear and astonishment when they were visited by an angel who told them they'd find the long-awaited savior — a baby — just down the hill in Bethlehem? If one angel wasn't enough, an entire sky full of angels singing and praising God soon joined in! Some of the lowest class of society were fully included and became messengers of the greatest thing ever to have happened.

    And Joseph. The Christmas story for him is one of obedience and loyalty. He was engaged to the young Mary, who told him she was pregnant. The cultural repercussions of the entire scenario were potentially grounds for Mary's execution. Not wanting to disgrace Mary, he planned to divorce her in private. But in a dream, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to trust Mary. The angel also told Joseph that the child should be called Jesus.

    And Mary. Think about it. She was a young, unknown girl from a small town often ridiculed. How could she have imagined what the Lord had in store for her? You can't blame her for having questions, yet she only asked one. "How?" Not "Why?" Or "When?" Just "How?"

    With the answer the angel provided, she stepped forward. She believed. She obeyed. She must have been so frightened! There was so very much at stake. Her upcoming marriage. Her reputation. Her family and its reputation. And even her life. Yet she said, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."

    Do you wonder if she ever regretted that response? Did she ever think, "What have I gotten myself into?" Perhaps she wished the angel had stayed just long enough to tell her mother, too. He had told her not to fear. Can you imagine how often she had to remind herself of that?

    What's the real meaning of Christmas for you? Is it the awe and joy of being included? The doubt and wonder of social implications? Or is it perhaps, like Mary, a humble heart willing to believe His promises and follow God's plan?

  • fitnessDuring the winter months in NC, exercising outdoors can bring a roller coaster of temperatures from one day to the next. Sunny and sixty can quickly turn into cold and forty in twenty-four hours. Colder months can bring an invigorating workout for those that like to hike, walk, run or enjoy winter activities such as skiing, cross country skiing and snowboarding. Even though the temperature may drop, it does not mean that you must bring your workouts indoors. The falling temperatures in the thirties and forties or less should not stop your outdoor activities. There are benefits from winter exercise that are different than the summer. In colder weather, you sweat less, spend less energy, and your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, which is beneficial for a more efficient workout.

    It can also be a mood booster and help replenish vitamin D levels in the skin. Wintry weather can also help max out that caloric burn. When your body is working hard to stay warm, your metabolism is kicked up into burning more calories. However, frigid air can irritate the lungs and is more difficult for those that have asthma. Cold air entering the airways can induce asthma flare-ups. Breathing in through the nose rather than the mouth warms the air before it reaches your lungs. Consult with your physician if you have health questions. Winter activities can be beneficial for almost everyone, and with a bit of planning, outdoor workouts can be refreshing and invigorating. The approach to winter activities is a little different than summer in the way we should dress and warm up.

    A warmup is essential for your muscles and tissues to avoid strains and injuries. Your warmup should begin indoors, including arm circles, arm swings, stepping in place and lunges.

    Think what it would be like for your muscles if you jumped into freezing water and how your body would react.

    While not quite as extreme as jumping out into the cold for an activity, your body needs blood flow for joints and muscles. Dressing for the cold is essential for body warmth, windburn or frostbite. Dressing in layers is the best way to begin and end your activity, which allows you to remove and put back on clothing as needed. Your first layer should be a synthetic material avoiding cotton that absorbs sweat and makes you colder. The next layer should be a breathable, wind-resistant, water-resistant outer layer. Your hands and feet are vulnerable to the cold and the quickest areas for frostbite.

    Wear insulated gloves and glove liners in case you remove your gloves.

    Wool socks and caps are essential to prevent the loss of body heat, and dark glasses help with wind and glare. Wear sunscreen and use lip balm to avoid chapping.

    Our area does not usually see extreme drops in temperatures, but hypothermia can occur if your body begins to lose too much heat. Lengthy exposures without adequate clothing can result in your body losing heat faster than it can be produced. It is most likely at colder temperatures but can occur at cool temperatures above 40 degrees if a person becomes chilled from the rain. Shivering can be the first sign of hypothermia.

    Getting warm slowly, changing any wet clothes and drinking warm liquids are essential to warm the body. Enjoy the winter and treat yourself to hot cider or hot chocolate after that outdoor activity! Live, love life and stay hydrated. Baby, its cold outside.

  • UNCShould the University of North Carolina System headquarters be moved from Chapel Hill to Raleigh where it could be conveniently closer to other state educational agencies and the state legislature that has ultimate control over it?

    In its recently adopted budget bill, the legislature provided for this move. Nobody argues with its power to direct such a move. But there is a widespread difference of opinion about the wisdom of this action.

    I will share some of these different views and then tell you my own thoughts.

    Respected columnist and longtime observer of North Carolina government and culture, Tom Campbell, writes that the move would be a good development. Despite disagreeing with the senate majority leader, Phil Berger, about many educational issues, Campbell thinks a university move to Raleigh would be positive.

    Even though Campbell supports the move to Raleigh, he criticizes legislators for meddling in university life, writing that “their hackles have really been raised by our state supported universities, which they contend doesn’t offer enough conservative philosophy to balance liberal teachings.”

    But after his harsh criticism of the legislature, Campbell writes “there is one initiative in which they are on the right track. Prompted by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, arguably the most powerful politician in the state, lawmakers have long wanted to move the General Administration of the UNC System out of what they consider the liberal bastion of Chapel Hill. But Berger’s reason for including $11 million for the move in the current state budget makes sense. Berger is convinced the leadership of the universities should be housed in the same building with K-12 public schools and our community colleges in order to promote closer communication and cooperation, something long discussed but never accomplished.”

    On the other hand, Art Padilla, author of “Portraits in Leadership: Six Extraordinary University Presidents,” and former UNC System associate vice president of academic affairs, recently wrote, “The move appears to be about politics and control and not about vaguely described synergies.”

    Padilla remembers the late university President William Friday’s “philosophy about institutional freedom and independence.”

    “As Mr. Friday was wont to say, the university was of the political process, but it was not in politics. In part, it is why we insisted that individual campuses not pressure the legislature on their own.”

    Padilla recognizes that “Some may think the university should be treated like another state agency.”
    But he uses Friday’s words to challenge that view. “No society can survive without an institution at its heart dealing with values, teaching the importance of history and revealing the relationship between man and nature.

    It’s there, in the beating, human heart of the university where you get sustenance for the soul, where you find out what’s making your heart sing, where you are motivated to go against the odds to do something.”

    For almost ten years in the 1980s and 90s I worked as the UNC System’s lobbyist, driving the 25 miles from Chapel Hill to Raleigh almost every day.

    That distance served the university and the people of the state. It discouraged legislators from probing directly into the day-to-day details of university or campus life and viewing it as a state education agency rather than a real university.

    Along the way, I had to respond to numerous complaints and inquiries about the political views expressed by some faculty members and activities of university-affiliated projects. But even the harshest critics usually understood that the vigorous and free conflict of ideas is part and parcel of a strong university where the preparation of a thinking citizenry goes hand in hand with the creation of new ideas and new solutions to society’s problems. I hope the legislature will do itself a favor: save money, protect the university system and keep the system’s headquarters away from Raleigh.

  • Pay MoreThis conversation happens during most elections in North Carolina since members of the General Assembly run every two years. Perhaps the 170 elected legislators who fund North Carolina’s governmental operations, enact laws that require us to take some actions and not to take others, and — increasingly, steer public policy — should get a raise.

    North Carolinians have long prided ourselves on our “citizen legislature,” a body to which most anyone at least 25 years old could, at least theoretically, get themselves elected. This belief stems from the days when the General Assembly met in odd-numbered years in what was called the “long session” and in which most of the body’s work was done, and a “short session” in the even-numbered years which mostly cleaned up work from the prior session. Legislating was, again, at least theoretically, a part-time job.

    If that were ever true, it certainly is not now.

    The General Assembly meets almost year-round at the direction — some would say whim — of legislative leadership. Such a schedule makes it difficult, if not impossible, for members to hold down regular jobs and wreaks havoc on their personal lives. And, for this, they are paid $13,952 annually, one of the lowest legislative salaries in the nation and which has not been raised since 1995. Think for a moment how you and your family would be doing if your pay had not budged in nearly three decades. And your reimbursement for daily food and lodging in an expensive city, like Raleigh, is a miserly $104 per day when the General Assembly is in session. Legislators have been known to sleep in their offices and cars and camp out at the state fairgrounds. As Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper puts it, the situation “selects for certain kinds of people, and those are people with money and flexibility.”

    The result of this unaddressed situation is that even though we like to think of our legislature as a citizen legislature, it is a myth.

    Ordinary folks cannot afford to run for these positions, much less serve in them. That means that the North Carolina General Assembly is composed of independently wealthy individuals who are not dependent on a regular paycheck. Individuals who have spouses who support them or employers willing to work with their erratic legislative schedules, not always for all the right reasons. Only a handful of current sitting legislators have regular jobs, children in public schools and shared family responsibilities.
    In short, they are not average North Carolinians.

    The reason for this ongoing craziness is that legislators do not want to be on record voting to give themselves a raise. They have nightmares about the mailers and TV ads political opponents would run against them in the next election if they did so. This means the General Assembly continues to skew older, wealthier and less representative.

    The U.S. Congress took care of this issue for its members years ago by initiating cost of living raises linked to thousands of other high-ranking federal positions. These raises do not have to be voted on, although they can be stopped if Congress chooses, which it has done occasionally. This means that people of relatively ordinary means can and do serve in our U.S. Congress.

    Until the North Carolina General Assembly discovers its collective courage and addresses its salary issue in some form — an actual raise, a raise tied to a cost of living index, or a commission to set its salary perhaps, North Carolinians will continue to get the representation we pay for, or in this instance, do not pay for.

    With luck and a healthy dose of legislative fortitude, this could happen in 2022.

  • No ExcusesHave you noticed that COVID-19 has become the most popular excuse for everything and anything since "the dog ate my homework?" Late for work? Blame it on COVID-19. Forgot your anniversary? COVID-19. Missed a deadline? COVID-19. Terrible restaurant service? COVID-19. Your car ran over the neighbor's cat? COVID-19. Yes. COVID-19, that tiny five-letter and two-number powerhouse of a word, has extraordinary exoneration powers. Well, this holiday season, there will be no excuses, COVID-19 or otherwise, for not leaving your homes. Take the necessary precautions for yourself and your family, and come out to celebrate the New Year with friends and family here in the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community. Even Mother Nature is cooperating by providing us mild spring-like temperatures. So, no excuses, folks; get ready to leave this crazy year behind and celebrate the start of 2022.

    Celebrating the New Year will be easy to do in our community.

    The City of Fayetteville, in conjunction with the Cool Spring Downtown District, is hosting Fayetteville's inaugural New Year's Eve celebration in Festival Park, The Night Circus. This spectacular event will be Fayetteville's most extensive collaboration and community event since competing for and winning the All America City recognition in 2011. (See page 2.) We will be showcasing this spectacular event in next week's edition of Up & Coming Weekly and recognizing the people, businesses and organizations who have been working diligently for months to make it possible. And, the good news is, it's a free event for the public. So, no excuses.

    This holiday edition of Up & Coming Weekly showcases the Fabulous '70s Groovy Gates Four New Year's Eve Party that is being hosted in conjunction with the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre. Though not free, this "open to the public" themed event combines nostalgia, costume and dance contests, door prizes, great food, and a '70s musical tribute by one of the most sought-after party bands in eastern North Carolina, Rivermist. They will be playing music that celebrates and defines the decade of afro hairdos, bell-bottom trousers, silk shirts and paisley headbands. It's a party in a package! (See page 13.) So, no excuses.

    Read all about these fun New Year's Eve events in Up & Coming Weekly, along with the many other celebratory events in the Fayetteville-Cumberland County community this holiday season. Our community newspaper is free, and it's online. So, no excuses!

    Happy Holidays and thank you for reading the Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper.

  • tartanWhy are we the way we are? Can we blame it on somebody else, like the British colonists, for instance?

    By “we” I don’t mean just you and me. I don’t even include us necessarily. I am thinking about folks who live in North Carolina and the surrounding regions.

    You know the kind I mean. Hard-nosed, sometimes rebellious, resistant to direction from those who think they know it all, suspicious of people in charge, unwilling to give up individual choice to some kind of group direction.

    It is not just those anti-vaxxers who will not accept an infinitesimal risk to themselves or their children in order to reduce to great risks all of us face from the ongoing series of COVID epidemics. It is not just them whom I am talking about.

    Nor is it just the Republicans. Or the Democrats.

    Lots of us on both sides of the political divide share a common resistance to authority. How do we explain it?

    Writing in The New Yorker on Oct. 4, the author and columnist Joe Klein gave it a try, writing, “The divide between maskers and anti-maskers, vaxxers and anti-vaxxers is as old as Plymouth Rock. It is deeper than politics; it is cultural.”

    For his ideas, Klein credited a 1989 book, “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America,” by David Hackett Fischer. This book, Klein says, “explains how the history of four centuries ago still shapes American culture and politics.”

    Focusing on the South, Klein says the original settlers were, “a wild caste of emigrants from the borderlands of Scotland and England. They brought their clannish, violent, independent culture, which had evolved over seven centuries of border warfare.”

    According to Fisher, these emigrants came from “a society of autonomous individuals who were unable to endure external control and incapable of restraining their rage against anyone who stood in the way.”

    Fisher writes that the Scots-Irish in the southern hill country were “intensely resistant to change and suspicious of ‘foreigners.’ In the early 20th century, they would become negrophobic and antisemitic.”

    Other parts of colonial America were settled by different groups.

    For instance, Klein writes about the Virginia-Cavalier tradition.

    “The Virginia definition of freedom was complex, contradictory — and remains problematic. It was hierarchical, the freedom to be unequal. ‘I am an aristocrat,’ John Randolph of Roanoke said. ‘I love liberty; I hate equality.’ Freedom was defined by what it wasn’t. It wasn’t slavery. It was the freedom to enslave. It was a freedom, granted to the plantation masters, to indulge themselves, gamble and debauch.”

    “Over time,” Klein continues, “this plutocratic libertarianism found natural allies, if strange bedfellows, in the fiercely egalitarian Scots-Irish hill country folk.

    Neither wanted to be ‘ruled’ by a strong central government.”

    Klein says things were just the opposite in New England. For the Puritans, “Everything was regulated.”

    “Order was an obsession.”

    Local officials reported “on the domestic tranquility of every family in their jurisdiction. Cotton Mather defined an ‘honorable’ person as one who was “studious, humble, patient, reserved and mortified.”

    About a different group of settlers, Klein writes that the Quakers seem an afterthought, but their migration was larger in size than that of the Puritans or Cavaliers. And their version of liberty seems most amenable today. It was ‘reciprocal freedom,’ based on the golden rule.

    Fischer notes the Scots-Irish practiced the opposite: “Do unto others as they threatened to do unto you.”

    The Scots-Irish, Virginia, Puritan, and Quaker legacies are very different and are, perhaps, diluted over the almost 300 years since these immigrants came. But the influence of each continues.

    The Scots-Irish influence in our region is still tenacious, which explains why the “Do unto others as they threatened to do unto you” rule is widely practiced by people across the political spectrum.

  •     At the outset of 2008, much of the nation’s attention was focused on two things: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the presidential elections. As the election got closer, the war receded to the background and the economy and gas prices took center stage. In the opening minutes of 2009, politics and the economy will still be the most important issues to many in the nation — Cumberland County is no exception.
        As 2008 got underway, both the county and the City of Fayetteville were focused on water — clean drinking water. Residents in western Fayetteville were faced with contaminated wells, as were citizens in the western portion of the city. Both governments began researching efforts to get water to the citizens in the affected areas. In Fayetteville, PWC expanded water services to residents in their areas, and just a week before the end of 2008, the county worked out a plan to provide water to county residents via an agreement with neighboring counties.
       {mosimage}In January 2008, the Crown Coliseum celebrated its 10th anniversary with a sold-out concert featuring Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire. The concert was the first of several sold-out shows at the coliseum throughout 2008. For much of the year, local resident Paul Beard was at the helm of the Crown; as 2008 drew to a close, Beard, along with marketing director Wind Lawson and Fair Manager Hubert Bullard, came under fire, with Beard and Lawson resigning their positions. Bullard was informed his contract would not be renewed. Going into 2009, the county is looking at a national search to find new management for the facility.
        The state of the less fortunate in our community was discussed throughout much of the beginning of 2008. A new panhandling ordinance passed by the City of Fayetteville in January 2008, drew approval from some segments of the community, but disapproval from homeless advocates. Those who work with the homeless on a daily basis argued that the panhandling ban would have adverse affects on the homeless in the community. At the same time, they took the opportunity to bring the real problems of homelessness in the city to the forefront, asking the city to put as much of a focus on homelessness as it did on panhandling.
        Parking also became an issue, as city consultants brought a comprehensive parking plan to downtown. The plan focused on the cost of parking — not just to the city — but also to those who use parking downtown. As 2009 winds down, not much as has been achieved in this arena, but it’s an area the city will have to tackle sooner rather than later.
        2008 saw the approval of a new landmark in downtown — the N.C. State Veterans Park. In February, the city unveiled plans for the $15 million park. It caused a great deal of excitement in the community, as well as controversy. Part of the park’s plan called for commercial development in Rowan Street Park. Local residents appeared en masse to fight that aspect of the development. Their voice was heard, and with the exception of the Rowan Park development, the Veterans Park proposal moved forward, gaining funding through the N.C. Legislature. The city has received the first half of the funding for the park, and has begun work on plans.
        With veterans gaining much-deserved recognition, a controversy at the VA Medical Center also gained headlines. At the center of the controversy was a debate over the placement of religious paraphernalia in the chapel. A VA administrator from Virginia ordered the removal of the religious accouterments from the chapel, which resulted in the resignation from the center of its chaplain.
        In April, the city took a critical look at the city’s transportation needs. The transit task force tackled the issue of improving the city’s transit system, which could only be described as substandard. With the work of the task force and the hiring of a new management staff, the transit system made strides over 2008. New buses were put into service, routes were shortened and changed, and money — a lot of money — was added to the transit system budget. That, according to city leaders, was only a drop in the bucket of what is really needed to improve the system.     “We are only trying to get to the state average,” said Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne.
        The city also took a hard look at its appearance, with Fayetteville Beauty, a volunteer project headed by City Council Bobby Hurst, making the city’s appearance important.
        Honoring the men and women of the community was also important in 2008 — from the Field of Honor to an AUSA Welcome Home Concert to the Army’s Army Fayetteville embraced its relationship to the military and showed its support to the men and women in uniform.
        As the summer got in full swing, Fayetteville, like the rest of the nation, was held captive by the rising gas prices. With gas near $4 a gallon, many in the community stayed home and took advantage of the many community events sponsored by nonprofits in the community. At the center of many of these events was Festival Park. As the year wound down, Festival Park was still central to community discussion –— but those discussion revolved around the proposed construction of the new Fayetteville Museum of Art. With the year winding down, the Museum Task Force, appointed by the city, took a break for the holidays. When it reconvenes in 2009, the task force will again tackle the finances of the museum as it relates to the sustainability of the facility.
        In the political arena, it was a year of firsts: the first African-American president was elected; the first female North Carolina governor prepares to step into office; and in Cumberland County, a female — Jeannette Council — took over as chairman of the county commissioners.

    Contact Janice Burton at editor@upandcomingweekly.com






  • Covid WreathToday Mr. Science ponders some of the mysteries of the universe to explain them in 25 words or less. Or maybe more. Some mysteries are more profound than others. Climb on board to take a look at things through a glass darkly.

    First Mystery: What are the actual lyrics to "Louie, Louie," the favorite song of teenage boys in the late 1960s? Louie first embedded himself into the consciousness of American youth in the version that the rock group the Kingsmen sang in 1963. Louie was written by Richard Berry way back in 1957. The song is about a Jamaican sailor who is pining for the girl he left behind. The soundtrack on the Kingsmen's version is mumbled, challenging to understand, and open to various misinterpretations. Teenagers in the 1960s, to put it mildly, chose to believe the lyrics were a bit off-color. Upon learning what the teenagers thought the lyrics were, adults freaked out at what those wild and crazy teens were singing. When teenagers knew their parents thought the song obscene, this led to an exponential increase in its popularity. The secret words in Louie were passed back and forth among high school students across the fruited plains. Concurrently with Louie's popularity, Ray Charles's song "Shake Your Tailfeather" enjoyed the same reputation for containing dirty lyrics. I personally witnessed classmates trading the secret lyrics of Tailfeather for the secret lyrics of Louie.
    The popularity of Louie led to an actual FBI investigation to determine if the Kingsmen were corrupting the morals of America's youth. The thought of middle-aged white Brylcreamed FBI agents wearing white shirts with skinny black ties having to listen to the repeated playing of Louie, Louie to determine if it was obscene gives me great comfort. For a while, radio stations refused to play Louie while he was under federal investigation. After a lengthy probe, the FBI concluded that Louie, Louie was not criminal, or at least the words could not be understood well enough to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Once Louie's name was cleared, he went on to play at the University of Washington Huskey's football games for decades. International Louie, Louie day is celebrated on April 11 each year. As to actual lyrics, no one really knows. As stated at the end of many 1950's horror movies – "There are some things that man should not know."

    Second Mystery: Why did Timmy keep falling into a well on the TV show "Lassie"? Was he a clumsy child? Did his parents Ruth and Paul Martin, tire of his weekly misadventures? Did they throw Timmy into a well only to be thwarted by Lassie repeatedly retrieving Timmy from a watery death? Did Timmy keep jumping into wells in a desperate cry for attention from his bickering parents, who were focused on ending their shell of a marriage in divorce? After Ruth left the farm, Timmy and Lassie, why did she change her name to Maureen Robinson and end up Lost in Space with the evil Dr. Zachary Smith? Once again, there is no definite answer. However, posing questions is the first step to enlightenment.

    Third Mystery: Where do the lost socks go? What do they do when they get there? It is commonplace to put an even number of socks into the washing machine only to find that you now have an uneven number of socks after the spin cycle has ceased. Should you take it personally when your socks disappear one by one? Are the socks trying to tell you something? Do you have foot odor so intense that your socks commit sockicide in the dryer? Do you need Odor Eaters Expanded Fit Insoles? Are your feet so sweaty that a mere Odor Eater Insole will not stop the smell? Do you need to go hardcore and use Odor Eater Foot Powder, Odor Eater Charcoal Foot Scrub, and Odor Eater Stink Stopper for Kids and Teens? What will you do to stop the silent tragedy of lost sock syndrome in its tracks? It's up to you. Aren't you glad you use Odor Eaters? Don't you wish everybody did? The sock you save may be your own.

    Fourth Mystery: How did this writer's Mom predict the Coronavirus more than 20 years ago? In an amazing example of mother's Christmas precognition, while decorating our Christmas tree this year, we found a COVID-19 ornament that my sainted mother made decades ago. A picture of this ornament adorns this column. It is the spitting image of the Coronavirus with the addition of a tail. The tail clearly anticipates a variety of the 'Rona that has not yet been discovered. It seems likely that the ornament represents the Upsilon variant of the Coronavirus, which is currently lurking in the lungs of some unvaxxed true believer. The mystery is how did Mom know way back in the 20th Century that the 'Rona was coming? The only answer can be that moms know everything.

    If you still have a mom, give her a hug. She sees you when you're sleeping. She knows when you're awake. She knows if you've been bad or good. But she loves you anyway. Merry Christmas.

  • What NowOn Nov. 24, I wrote about how our local elected officials in Fayetteville and Cumberland County could learn a lot about cooperation and teamwork, recently demonstrated by our Cumberland County Legislative Delegation led by Chairman Rep. Billy Richardson.

    Undoubtedly, congratulations are in order to him and the other members of the delegation, Sen. Kirk deViere, Sen. Ben Clark, Rep. John Szoka, Rep. Diane Wheatley and Rep. Marvin Lucas, for their hard work and perseverance in passing North Carolina's first budget since 2018. Thanks to their efforts Fayetteville and Cumberland County will receive $412 million for projects and programs that will impact the residents of Cumberland County for decades. This money will address local infrastructure needs and funding for health care, K-12 education, broadband expansion, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville State University expansion projects, expanded medical research, etc. The tax policy portion of the new budget is pro-growth and lowers personal income tax and corporate income tax rates. And, thanks to the perseverance of Szoka and Wheatley, who were co-sponsors of House Bill 83, North Carolina Veterans' military pensions will no longer be taxed. HB 83 is a massive win for both our veterans and our state. According to Szoka, North Carolina will become more attractive to military retirees from all over the country and aid in retaining retirees here in our community. Another major budget highlight and a massive win for Fayetteville is the $59.6 million earmarked for the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center. Here we have another example of teamwork, cooperation and perseverance by project Chairman Mac Healy, Co-Chair Mary Lynn Bryan, and members of the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center's board of directors.

    This state-run venue will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to our community; create jobs, and infuse millions of dollars of economic growth and development. Undoubtedly, at $412 million, this community has never achieved success of this magnitude.

    Why and how did this happen, you may ask? Because, today, we are fortunate to have in place a dedicated local elected Cumberland County legislative delegation that understands the importance and value of teamwork. But, what about tomorrow? With the new district changes and the prospect of an additional Congressional District, our Cumberland County delegation and many of our city and county elected leadership will change, producing some new faces. Like many others, my question and concerns are whether these elected newcomers will embrace the same spirit of teamwork and cooperation when it comes to "doing the right things, for the right reasons" for the residents of Cumberland County; this is a very valid concern. After all, now that we have gained $412 million for improving our community, we must be confident that the people responsible for spending it are competent. They must have the talent, intelligence and common sense to execute their duties prudently and for their intended purposes.
    The haunting question is, will future leadership follow the bipartisan examples of our current leadership by working and cooperating to better the city, county and state? Or will they retreat to the safe havens of their self-serving "what's in it for me" silos? Only time will tell. We have much at stake here. Cumberland County is losing population, and more importantly, we are losing our young professionals to other more progressive cities. Making the community better and serving all the citizens of Cumberland County diligently and honestly should be the highest of all priorities. No one political affiliation has all the knowledge, talent or intelligence needed to move a community into prosperity. It takes everyone. It takes teamwork. As demonstrated by our current bipartisan legislative delegation, it takes working together for a common cause.

    Now is the time to pay attention to those seeking elected leadership positions. The 2022 elections have been delayed again until May 17, 2022. We should start now vetting candidates and ultimately vote for those who have a platform to better the quality of life in our community and not be just elected placeholders. We must elect honest and trustworthy leaders who understand the importance of transparency and citizen involvement. With $412 million, we have an excellent opportunity to transform Fayetteville and Cumberland County into a prosperous "Can Do" community, but only if we all work together. We must demand that our city and county elected officials work together. We must demand positive, cooperative actions and not empty promises.

    The future of the Fayetteville and Cumberland County communities is in our hands. As demonstrated over the last decade, you can be assured that we will ultimately get the kind of leadership and local government we deserve. Let's all hope that we deserve the best.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • XMAS MUSICIt's amazing how a line, a chorus or even an entire song seems to know us better than we know ourselves — or better express what we're feeling, at the very least. The best songwriters probably have the gift of teaching.

    After celebrating several dozen Christmases here on earth, I thought I'd heard songs about the Christmas story and season sung from every possible angle. But then the song, "I Need Christmas" from Daniel Doss came along.

    Not a big name — he had some nominal success in Christian music circles in the mid-2000s and is well known around the Nashville area — but his new Christmas song is just what I was looking for this year. It’s not even new.

    He wrote and released it himself last year, but it landed on my desk on the first day of November 2021. As the song begins, the words identify with the weight we've collectively carried the past couple of years:

    I need reason again to sing

    I need peace here on earth

    I need His joy in this world

    Like I never have before

    But then it gets personal, acknowledging the questions, pain and struggles that seem to never go away.

    When the early Christians celebrated Christmas, the focus was on the birth of Christ and the true gifts He brought into this world: love, joy and peace.

    For centuries, we've crowded the season with all sorts of extra traditions and expectations. 2020 gave us a taste of a simplified Christmas. There were no parties, gifts arrived in Amazon boxes and many church services and family gatherings were celebrated through phone or computer screens.

    Despite sadness over the loss of connection, the slower pace we gained opened my eyes all the more to the true meaning of Christmas. And now — Christmas 2021, I was ready to be reminded that Jesus — Creator of the entire universe — chose to live in the world He created as one of us.

    In the Daniel Doss song he reminds us of His humanity:

    Jesus had problems, He had family

    And sometimes those were one and the same

    He had friends and, He had betrayers

    But showed us how to love them anyway

    He had vision, He had dreams

    No one understood and not many believed

    He had loved ones that passed away

    Oh it’s good to know He understands our pain

    That's what we need to hear. That's what we need to remember. Jesus has been showing us the way from the very beginning.

    So celebrate the sweet little baby in the manger, but don't stop there. Follow the baby who grows into a man showing us how to treat others with kindness, correct others in love and honor relationships at home and everywhere we go.

    Follow Him as He teaches us to trust God and His plan for man-kind. It's a journey, and somewhere along the way you'll look up and realize you've reached the point — as in the song — that we have a responsibility and say: I’ll be Christmas this year. I'll remind everyone.

  • foodWe are surrounded with the joy of the holidays, gatherings, parties, celebrations decorating and food. The thought of tasty morsels and delicate treats tempt us in every turn with commercials, magazines and social media. The famous Lucille Ball bonbons in the chocolate factory episode comes to mind as she struggles to keep up with the assembly line while devouring countless bonbons. An exaggeration but if you think about it, we tend to gobble down the once-a-year treats in a similar fashion. The average amount of calories consumed on Christmas day is from 5000 to 7,500 and that does not include the added daily consumption.

    The Holiday season is a challenging time to watch your diet but there are ways that you can have your cake and eat it, too. With a mindful approach to eating and continuing with exercise, you can enjoy the holidays and not face the extra pounds in January. A little holiday strategy can help you not to fall into food overdrive.

    Attending a holiday party? Holiday parties are enticing with lavish displays of goodies high in calories during your mealtime. Eating something before you go lessens the desire to fill the plate.

    Avoid grazing at parties. It is easy to rationalize if you did not get a plate then you are not eating as much with the one bite pickup approach. The one bite pickups quickly become more than the serving you would have enjoyed if you had gotten a plate. The joy of baking and receiving baked goods are a seasonal highlight and easy to take the approach that just one will not hurt. By the end of the day, one has turned into two or three with mounting calories.

    Enjoy your treats by cutting down on the amount you eat and try to eat them earlier in the day. While dining at home limit your portions by eating off a smaller plate such as a salad plate and, if you are dining out, take home a portion of your meal or the next day’s lunch or dinner. When ordering a dessert, opt to share with a friend or spouse. There can be a tendency to skip meals during the holidays because you are so busy. Skipping meals adds to more caloric intake when you finally eat. Carry a protein bar with you while you are on your shopping excursions and avoid that tempting drive-through for the fast food. Take a healthy food choice as your contribution to a holiday party or family gathering.

    At the hors d’oeuvres table, instead of eating that ham or turkey in a roll, pick up that protein and dip it in a sauce or roll it up with a veggie. Try to avoid continuous taste testing while you are preparing a meal or making holiday treats.

    Liquid calories in signature holiday drinks, hot chocolate and eggnog are large contributors to added calories. Enjoy your beverage with just one mindset. Drink water in a fancy glass with seasonal fruit.

    In addition to diet challenges, your fitness routine may take backstage during the season, but you can put pep in that step with a little creativity. Park further away in the shopping center and walk briskly to and from. Take the stairs when they are available or brisk walks for lesser distance and time. Runs during the holidays can be fun with themed runs and you can dance around the house to holiday music.

    Live, love, life and embrace the season by having your cake and eating it, too.

  • futureAs the mother of three adult children, I am wired to be interested in their particular thoughts about life, and more generally, the views of their generation.

    Does their generation see the world the same way I did at their ages? The answers are not encouraging. They are disheartening. A survey conducted earlier this year by UNICEF and Gallup of 21,000 people in 21 different nations throughout the world found stark differences not only between generations but between different parts of the world. My generation of Americans believed that we would be healthier and wealthier than our parents' generation, and for the most part, those beliefs have proven true. By and large, we are more educated than our parents, have enjoyed higher incomes and look forward to longer life expectancies.

    Our kiddos and their kiddos are less optimistic, and some statistics bear out their thinking.

    Of the six wealthiest nations in the world, including the United States, only about a third of young people believe they will be better off financially than their parents. What's more, they no longer believe that hard work alone will get them where they want to go or that everyone starts at the same place. Increasingly, they believe that family wealth and connections are significant success factors.

    "On one hand, you want and need people to believe that they can make a difference in their own lives, but on the other hand, you need people to understand it's about more than just their own hard work," as Bob McKinnon, founder of a non-profit helping people understand influences in their lives says, in the New York Times. According to UNICEF and Gallup, older folks of my generation believe this as well. Moreover, many younger people believe quite rightly that earlier generations, including mine, have compromised our environment at best and destroyed it at worst.

    Interestingly, these lines of thought are more prevalent in wealthier, more developed nations, most of them in the northern hemisphere. Young people in less developed countries, mainly below the equator, are more hopeful than Americans of their generation.

    Around two-thirds of young people below the equator believe that they will be better off economically than their parents have been and that the world is becoming a better place with each new generation. They are more likely to believe that they have control over their lives through hard work and education. As Kenyan Lorraine Nduta, 21, put it in The Times, "we do not get to choose our families or social status, but that has never been a hindrance for anyone to succeed... In fact, I think when you have less, it fuels you to seek more. The power to change any situation lies with us — hard work, consistency and discipline."

    It isn't easy to imagine such sentiments coming from many young Americans in 2021.

    Every generation from time immemorial is formed by its times, its culture, its geography and an individual's circumstances. Every generation believes itself unique, and the hope for a better life for the next generation still exists, even if it seems to be slipping from the grasp of some in certain parts of the world.

    What stands out in this survey is that the traditional American Dream, long a standard for both Americans and people in other nations, needs some work.

    It remains true that hard work and education can lift young people, but the cynicism and anxiety surfacing in our young people is worrisome.

  • uac120711001.jpg For the past 20 years, Christmas in Fayetteville has meant a staging of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. So, it seems a little unusual that the theatre’s new artistic director, Tom Quaintance, would choose to direct this tried and true show as his first venture on the stage after taking the reigns from Fayetteville’s First Lady of Theatre, Bo Thorp

    .But there is a method to Quaintance’s madness. What others may see as a baptism by fi re, Quaintance sees as an opportunity to understand the heart and soul of the community — it’s families.

    With that in mind, Quaintance jumped feet fi rst into what may actually be one of the most diffi cult shows produced by the theatre annually. Forget about the musicals with their demand for a range of vocals and dancing. Forget about the gripping dramas. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever presents a challenge that is unique. Quaintance had the dubious honor of watching the auditions of almost 300 of the county’s children, and then culling that number to about 180, and then, directing, not one, not two, but three separate casts in this year’s production of the county’s most beloved Christmas performance.

    This is not a task for the weak of heart. Quaintance saw it not so much as a challenge, but as an opportunity.

    “There are a couple of reasons why I wanted to direct this show,” explained Quaintance during a recent interview. “First, I felt my principal job coming in was getting to know the community, because that’s what this theatre is about — community.

    “As one of the flagship arts organizations in the community, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre is all about the people in the community, so I think the biggest challenge coming into this job is getting to know the people and personally taking the pulse of the community for our organization. I can’t effectively serve in this position unless I know the community,” he continued.

    So, Quaintance saw the chance to work with 180 plus children as a good way to start.

    “I felt like this would give me the opportunity to get to know the families — one of the primary reasons I am here is because this is such a family-centered community,” said Quaintance, whose first child was born late this summer.12-07-11-cover-story.jpg

    As an educator for more than 13 years, Quaintance also saw the opportunity to work with children tremendously exciting.

    During the weeks of rehearsal leading up to the opening of the show this week, Quaintance has learned a few things about our community.

    “The children have confirmed what I expected coming in,” he said. “This community is hard working, enthusiastic and appreciative of a high standard and good work. All of these kids want to do good work. In doing this show, they feel like they are a part of something that matters. Everybody from the smallest Baby Angel to the Herdmans has worked very hard.”

    Quaintance’s second reason for choosing to direct the show is a love of the story.

    “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is the story of why we do theatre It’s a about transformation,” he said.

    In recent years, directors have taken the show to an edgier side. Quaintance elected to get back to basics — “let’s tell the story” has become his mantra.

    “This is the first time I have directed this show, so the first thing I did was read the book” he said. “It’s a sweet story, but it is sharp, too. It’s not a sappy story, it’s really a great story about how outsiders are treated and how these ‘supposed good people’ treat those who are different It makes you question the labels, and is a surprisingly sophisticated show, while at the same time being tremendously fun with a beautiful message.”

    Quaintance has made sure the actors in the play understand the message. Rehearsals have been part discussion and part acting.

    “Are the Herdmans really just bad?” Quaintance asked the cast one Friday afternoon.

    They quickly answered with a resounding “Yes.”

    “Really?” asked Quaintance. “Listen to the way these good girls talk to and about the Herdmans when adults are present. How do you think they talk to them when they aren’t around?”

    Wheels started turning in the heads of the cast, and as the discussion developed, the light went on. The kids started questioning who the real bullies were.

    12-07-11-cover-story-2.jpg “I think the story is not just about the Herdmans transforming. It’s about the community’s transformation, not only in how they treat people, but also in how they view Christmas. The pageant has become something done by rote, with no meaning. The Herdmans come in with this completely unjaded view of the pageant. They want to know what it means. They want to get it right. They feel something. And in wanting to get it right and understand the miracle of Christmas, everybody goes on this journey.”

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever opens on Thursday, Dec. 8 and runs through Dec. 18. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children. For tickets and show times, visit the CFRT website at www.cfrt.org.

    Photo: (Middle right) The story is not just about the Herdmans transforming. It’s about the community’s transformation, not only in how they treat people, but also in how they view Christmas.  (Bottom left); Quaintance has made sure the actors in the play understand the message. Rehearsals have been part discussion and part acting. 

  • At a time during the holiday season when many look forward to some quiet time and even some time off, Christine Kastner fi nds herself in the very thick of it in her new position, which started right after Thanksgiving. After an extensive national search and selection process, The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (FSO) has named Kastner as its new president and CEO to “direct” the business aspect of North Carolina’s oldest continually funded orchestra.

    “Right here at the beginning, I jumped right into two concerts,” said Kastner, referring to the performance of Handel’s “Messiah” with the Cumberland Oratorio Singers at First Presbyterian Church on Dec. 4 and the orchestra’s festive Holiday Extravaganza on Dec. 10. “There’s no slow time to get up to speed as far as what needs to be done for the concerts!

    ”Kastner, who has lived in Fayetteville for 13 years, most recently served for three years as the executive director of Cape Fear Studios and views the move into her newly created position with the FSO as a “fairly smooth transition in some respects.”

    “I’m using a lot of the same granting agencies, and I’m already familiar with the Fayetteville and the Cumberland County community,” Kastner said.

    Maestro Fouad Fakhouri, music director and conductor of the FSO, notes the importance of Kastner’s connections to the area.

    “I think she’s very, very capable, I’m very, very optimistic for our future, and I am very much looking forward to working with her,” said Fakhouri. “She understands community and has a proven record. It’s a win-win to have her come work with us.”

    “I think the symphony in Fayetteville — and all symphonies really — are having to reach out and explore new audiences and become more accessible for people. It [the classical music culture] can be somewhat intimidating for a lot of the population, so we want people to realize that it doesn’t need to be intimidating. One of the projects we have for spring is actually to invite, through a grant of the N.C. Arts Council, the 21- to 40-year-old set to some dress rehearsals so that they’ll start to feel comfortable and be able to actually interact with the musicians and with Maestro Fakhouri.

    “We’re exploring several new ventures with the school system and with young people because that’s our future audience. All third graders in Cumberland County get to come hear the symphony perform Peter and the Wolf,” she said. “There’s been curriculum developed in the school that the music teachers do with the children before they come.”

    Kastner steps into her new position in challenging economic times but remains optimistic about the symphony’s continued success and growth through coordinated efforts with other arts organizations

    .“Well, there are challenges for all arts organizations right now,” said Kastner. “Funding is reduced at the state and federal level, granting agencies are tapped to a greater extent and have a hard time meeting the needs, so there are defi nitely funding challenges, and we’re not alone in that. But we hope by partnering with other organizations we can overcome some of those funding challenges by combining our audiences and our supporters and tapping some new grant sources.”

    Kastner sees a bright future for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra as it continues to ensure its12-21-11-symphony.jpg artistic excellence while broadening its audiences and reaching young people though diverse performance venues and educational programs.

    “I’m very excited, and I think there is a lot of potential for growth for our symphony. They have reached a point where Maestro Fakhouri has elevated the artistic programming, and now we need to bring the operations in line with the artistic programming to allow for even more expansion.”

    For more information on the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and its upcoming performances, visit www.fayettevillesymphony.org, call (910) 433-4690 or email info@fayettevillesymphony.org.

    Photo: Chris Kastner

  • They’ve only been there a matter of weeks, but Enrique Castaneda and Juan Macias Jr. are excited to have the doors of Via 216 open and to serve the customers who have been enjoying a meal and/or drink with them. 12-30-bar-and-grill-2-men.jpg

    Located in the former home of the Broadstreet Cafe at 216 Tallywood Shopping Center, Via 216 boasts a full bar complete with 27 different beers on tap, a pool room, a dance floor and several televisions with more on the way. What the owners want you to remember though is the great food and friendly atmosphere — and the good time that you had at their bar and grill.

    Castaneda and Macias Jr. are both veterans of the restaurant business.

    “My dad owns MiCasita. I’ve been working for him for years and I wanted to branch out and startsomething new,” said Macias.

    “I am trying to have my own thing here. “I worked for my dad for the longest time and then Enrique came in and opened up a new world for me. He showed me that it is not just serving people and giving them drinks and food and taking their money — it is actually enjoying what you do and giving a different aspect of what you put into the work. There is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than people would expect.”

    A friend of the Macias family since 1995, Casteneda was one of the owners of the Trio Cafe before he moved to Atlanta to expand his culinary reperatoire.

    “We've talked for years about doing something,” said Castaneda.

    “It was a little hard for me to move back here but we also have some friends here who said ‘Come on Enrique we can really do something here in Fayettevile...now we have this. It is not too fancy, but we have a good presentation and good food at a good price.”

    The menu boasts not just standard pub fare, but also a few unique items and many of the old time favorites have been given a new spin in what Castaneda calls New American Fare.

    “We are bringing to Fayetteville new American Food. What it is, is the regular stuff that you grew up with but stronger flavor,” said Castenada.

    “Maybe you can see that we have ribs but we have the chipotle barbecue sauce. We added the peppers and bring the Latin flavor to it.”

    If you aren’t up for a late night, Macias pointed out that they are open for lunch and have a “Fast Via Lunch” menu that includes kid friendly options too. He also pointed out that everything is made fresh daily — from scratch.

    “It is a nice, big place people can enjoy,” said Macias.

    “We are putting alot of effort into making sure everything looks good and that this place has something special.”

    For more information stop by or give them a call at 486-7832.

  • BLBC NYEBright Light Brewing Company will be saying farewell to 2021 with a retro 1970s inspired New Year's Eve party.

    Tickets for the '70s New Year's Eve event are limited; only 75 are available, and they are going fast. The cost is $45 for individual tickets and $80 for couples.

    The ticket includes a commemorative glass, a full catered meal, the first drink, a champagne toast and the chance to dance under the disco ball.

    Because of COVID-19, BLBC did not have a New Years' Eve party last year. BLBC welcomed 2020 in with a roaring '20s theme.

    Trisha Grieve, a bartender who attended the party, said, "There were tons of fancy outfits, poker games, shining jewelry – everyone went all out. Like this year, the Belmont catered the food."

    This year the dress code is cocktail attire but with a retro '70's twist. Guests can break out bell-bottoms, go-go boots, halter tops and mini dresses, and a DJ will be providing funky music all night.

    Grieve has worked at BLBC for just under four and a half years. She describes the brewery as a relaxed environment and a good local spot to visit, even if you're just passing through.

    Grieve explained that it is family-friendly, and the people who come here often will just become your family.

    She was most excited about having a DJ for the event.

    "I am looking forward to the DJ We had one on Halloween, and people just danced for hours. I love the live music, but it's nice to switch it up," Grieve said

    The music isn't the only thing she is looking forward to, "I am also looking forward to the disco ball because who doesn't love a good disco ball?"

    The Belmont House is catering the event and will offer a menu of chicken, green beans, black-eyed peas and mashed potatoes, and a vegetarian option and a small dessert.

    BLBC will have 15 beers on offer and guest ciders and wine, along with a complimentary champagne toast.

    "It's also great to see individuals buy tickets who have come to our previous New Years' parties buy tickets, something special about making friends and continuing a fun tradition; it's also wonderful to have newcomers just looking for something to enjoy," Grieve said.

    BLBC is a startup nano-brewery in downtown Fayetteville in craft beer and wine.

    Located at 444 West Russell St., Suite 102, BLBC remodeled a gym turning it into a taproom in November of 2016.

    They opened the doors to the brewery on April 21, 2017.

    The company had grown so much by 2019 they decided to open a brewhouse two blocks away. They began brewing on a three-barrel, and now they are at a ten-barrel.

    BLBC hosts private parties, mug club member events, Hail and Farewells at their brewhouse. The party will take place on December 31 at 7 p.m., and folks can boogie on down all night until 1 a.m.

  • night circusEditor's Note: This article was updated on Dec. 31 to reflect the new face mask guidance of the event.

    "The circus arrives without warning," writes Erin Morgenstern in her New York Times bestselling book, "The Night Circus."

    At dusk, on Dec. 31st, on the lawn of Festival Park, just a stone's throw from downtown Fayetteville, the circus is coming to town. This circus will not be the regular circus with striped tents, clowns or elephants but rather a night circus. With it comes fire breathers, jugglers, stilt walkers and an assortment of food and spirits — enough entertainment to keep curiosity peaked and crowds amped.

    This New Year's Eve, the Night Circus will be open, but it will open for one night only.

    The saying goes, nothing good happens after 10 p.m. However, in this case, for this one night, Bianca Shoneman, President and CEO of Cool Spring Downtown District, promises this won't be the case. The Cool Spring Downtown District and the City of Fayetteville are throwing a New Year's Eve party to remember.

    Night Circus: A District New Year's Eve Spectacular is set to be a night full of fantastical artists, food and throwback tunes for all the '90s music lovers out there.

    Shoneman says a New Year's Eve event of this magnitude has not happened in more than a decade. This event will include a '90s dance party that starts around 10 p.m. with headliners Coolio, Rob Base, C + C Music Factory and All-4-One.

    "We felt like we could all use some good cheer," Shoneman said. "I think the goal of the city council is to create a new tradition … We were looking to do something different than the standard festival you might see."

    And, according to Shoneman, it takes a lot of money to pull off an event like this — $165,000, to be exact. Part of allocating those funds includes commissioning a long-term asset, an 18-foot star, that will be raised to the sky on New Year's Eve.

    "Since we represent the Can-Do City, instead of dropping something like many communities do, we are going to lift the star because we have an up-and-coming spirit."

    The plan this New Year's Eve is to lift the star 110 feet into the air at the stroke of midnight, and simultaneously, fireworks will ignite, and a sign that reads America's Can-Do City will light up.

    The star was constructed by local sign makers, Blashfield Sign Company. Owner, Matt Blashfield, noted that the star is an odd one-of-a-kind item, very precise in design and construction and at times, production was arduous.

    The star itself took 45 days and $45,000 to construct and is exactly 18-feet tall from each point on the star.

    "It was a challenge with all the material and shipping delays the world is experiencing … We did this thing together. It was the epitome of teamwork," Blashfield said.

    The City officials hope this event will foster a sense of community and ignite a new annual tradition for Cumberland County.

    Tammy Thurman, Senior Community and Local Government Manager for Piedmont Natural Gas, a sponsor of the event, explained that in contrast, community members are used to traveling and watching other cities and states celebrate the new year; the community can now celebrate it in their own city.

    This addition to Fayetteville's livability is just the sort of thing Shoneman said she and others who work for the city aim to achieve.

    "People are starting to believe in the life, work, play, shop here … this notion of creating a great place to live that we've been working on for years. The city is creating a more livable community," Shoneman said.

    They have also planned a smaller; no fireworks included, star lift around 9 p.m. for those families with little ones they want to tuck safely into bed before midnight.

    This portion of the night will incorporate music from local DJs, including Fayetteville's only female turntablist, DJ Miracle. At 10 p.m., the other musicians will take over, and the music will change. Shoneman and others are hoping the event will be well-attended. If it is, she says they are looking to use the Night Circus in years to come.

    "At this point, we hope the theme sticks. It's such a good theme. I hope it's well-received," she said.

    The event will include carnival games, LED jugglers, fire breathers, magicians, aerialists, a Ferris Wheel and a carousel. There will be 11 food providers, and three beer tents and champagne bottles will be available for purchase. Food trucks and wine and beer vendors will take both cards and cash.

    Night Circus will start at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 and run until 12:30 a.m. January 1, 2022. The event is free to all. Mechanical rides and carnival games will also be available for a fee. Attendees can find parking in service lots around downtown Fayetteville for $5.

    There will also be a free shuttle running from Fort Bragg to the event from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. For additional information on the event call 910-223-1089.

    Face masks will be required upon entry to the event. 22,000 face masks will be available to attendees who do not bring their own. The face masks were donated to the event by an anonymous donor and the Cape Fear Valley Regional Hospital. Non-vaccinated attendees are encouraged to take a COVID test within 24 hours of the event. Vaccinated attendees are encouraged to provide proof of vaccination.

  • ASOMClose your eyes. Imagine that you are in a plane filled with young men about to parachute to the ground, or you are in an army hospital surrounded by fields in Europe. It's almost impossible to imagine what it must have been like to see the invasion of D-Day during World War II.

    But almost impossible doesn't mean it can't be done.

    Bruno de Sa Moreira, the CEO of Histovery, was always interested in making history interactive. He has helped create 20 interactive, virtual exhibits throughout France. In 2018, his company came up with the idea to use a tablet and allow people to become interactive at the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Normandy, France.

    "But then, for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019, we decided to create an exhibition that could come here to the United States," de Sa Moreira said.

    The U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum, here in Cumberland County, is the second place in the U.S. to host one of de Sa Moreira's interactive exhibits.

    D-Day: Freedom From Above at the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum is designed around historic D-Day artifacts. The exhibit utilizes twelve physical panels to guide visitors through the experience, focusing on the D-Day missions of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first French town to be liberated during WWII. ASOM Curator Jimmie Hallis carefully chose the physical artifacts in the exhibit. Artifacts had to be related to D-Day and connected with the 82nd or 101st Airborne Divisions.

    "I like artifacts to connect to a story, especially when that story hits close to home," Hallis said. "If I can tie it to the local community, it makes it really interesting."

    One of the artifacts in the exhibit, and chosen by Hallis, is a parachutist coat and garrison cap that a Fayetteville native wore during the Normandy Invasion. Pvt. Robert W. Ryals was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He survived combat in Normandy, Holland and the Battle of the Bulge. Ryals passed away in 2011.

    The virtual exhibit provides an immersive and interactive virtual reality experience of the events. The experience offers museum visitors the chance to encounter 3-D virtual relics, unpublished photos, excerpts of exceptional archival films and animated maps. The key to the interactive exhibit is the HistoPad tablet. By using the HistoPad, visitors can scan QR codes on the physical displays.

    "Basically, the idea is to transform this into a time-traveling machine. So it's going to take you in the past and help you understand what this object in front of you in the windows of the museum is about," de Sa Moreira said.

    "​​And this is something fun to experience because it's visual. What you have is primarily images, images of the past, of the characters of the scene going on, and by clicking on details, by manipulating the objects, you get answers to your curiosity. So basically, the trick is to increase the curiosity of the visitors."

    Another interesting fact about the HistoPad is that people can leave real-time reviews.

    "Since the opening of the exhibition in October, one visitor out of two is rating the experience. It's a very high percentage. And the ranking they gave is extremely high. It's 4.7 out of five," de Sa Moreira said.

    Admission to the ASOM is free. However, there is a $5 rental fee for the HistoPad.

    ASOM staff recommend you allow about 30 minutes to tour the entire D-Day exhibit. The exhibit is open until March 2022.

  • uac120810001.gif Sometimes it is hard to know how to thank a veteran — someone who has served on your behalf, and quite possibly faced and endured things that some would prefer not to acknowledge or even consider. What about the fallen and their families? How can we honor them and the sacrifi ces that they have made?

    So maybe this isn’t the easiest of topics to be reading during the holiday season. It’s relevant though. At noon, on Dec. 11, the Dogwood Chapter of Gold Star Mothers along with the local HOG chapter, the 82nd Airborne Foundation, the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Rolling Thunder and Patriot Guard Riders are gathering to take part in the Wreaths Across America Campaign at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake.

    Wreaths Across America started in 1992 when Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath sponsored the Arlington Wreath Project by donating 5,000 Christmas wreaths to Arlington Cemetery. Since then, the project has grown as thousands of requests poured in from around the country from people wanting to emulate the project.

    The second Saturday in December, at noon each year, Wreaths Across America places a wreath on the graves of veterans in cemeteries large and small across the nation. This year there are more than 400 ceremonies that will take place simulataneously with approximately 500 wreaths to be placed locally.

    “What we are trying to do here is to show these families that the sacrifi ces that they and their loved ones made have not been forgotten,” said Steve Adam, Cape Fear HOG spokesman. “It is a way to honor those who gave the last full measure of devotion and to show that we are grateful for their sacrifice.”

    There will be a short ceremony, with Brig. Gen. Edward M. Reeder Jr., Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Forces Command, speaking.

    Seven wreaths, representing each of the armed services and the veterans who have served in them will be placed at the12-08-10-wreaths-across2.gif base of the fl ag. Gold Star mothers and perhaps a few Gold Star wives will be among the fi rst to lay wreaths on the graves.

    Musical tributes will be a part of the ceremony as well with a bugler playing “Taps” and a rendition of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

    “It’s a very sobering and moving experience. Have you ever heard “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes?” said Adam. “It’ll bring the toughest of men to tears.”

    While the time for fundraising and accepting wreath donations has past for this particular event, the public is welcomed and encouraged to attend. There are plenty of wreaths to be placed and this is also an opportunity to show respect and gratitude to the fallen, Adam said.

    “This is not a fundraiser,” said Adam. “People need to know that there is no money being made here. This is a group of grateful citizens, honoring our fallen soldiers.”

    To find out more or to make a contribution to Wreaths Across America, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

    For questions about the Sandhills State Veteran’s Cemetery, call 207-483-2039 or e-mail lorietex@aol.com.

  • NYEAs legendary multi-academy award-winning costume designer Edith Head said, “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”

    And this is just what the organizers of the Gates Four Groovy New Year’s Eve Party are hoping.

    Afros, polyester, bell-bottoms, platforms and lamé, nothing is off the table.

    “People will be able to dress up and put all of the stresses of 2021 behind them,” explained Bill Bowman, Up & Coming Weekly publisher.

    Gates Four Groovy New Year’s Eve Party is the first event of this kind that the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre and the Gates Four Golf and Country Club have collaborated on, but not their first collaboration overall.
    This summer, the two organizations teamed up for the Summer Concert Series. Earlier in the year, Gates Four hosted two Fayetteville Dinner Theatre productions, "A Sinister Cabaret" and "Beyond Broadway."

    “The relationship over the last couple years is the Fayetteville Dinner Theater has partnered with Gates Four to bring more of entertainment art and culture aspect to that community,” Bowman explained.

    The Fabulous 70s Groovy New Year’s Eve Party will break the mold for both of these organizations, and the event has been carefully crafted over the past year.

    Headliners for the event, Rivermist, were booked a year in advance to ensure they would perform at the event.

    Rivermist, a Fayetteville native group, has been performing together since the summer of 2015. They have won the Up & Coming Weekly’s Best Local Band for five years in a row and were the Fayetteville Observer’s Best Local Band Reader’s Choice in 2016. Most recently, Rivermist opened for Rick Springfield on Oct. 2.

    Drummer and backup vocalist Greg Adair is already planning his costume.

    “My favorite '70s costume piece is probably the bell-bottoms, and the vest [they] are pretty cool. My hair is pretty long; I am going to poof it out and wear an afro and a peace pendant and maybe some kind of headband,” Adair said.

    The plan is to keep their music tuned to those '70s sounds. When asked what Rivermist will play for the event, Adair listed the Eagles, Earth Wind and Fire, Styx, and more. Adair says the band is all about a good time, and they will be bringing that vibe to the event.

    “We are a party band; we have fun; we are full-time players, most of us are, and we are all about having fun,” Adair said.

    The Gates Four Golf and Country Club Head Chef Patrick Riley is planning quite the spread in anticipation of the event. Guests will be able to choose from a manned prime rib carving station; a buffet touting smoked duck and hoisin purses, mini cordon bleu, hibachi beef, stuffed mushrooms and more. A wide selection of seafood will also be available with choices that range from shrimp cocktails to mini crab cakes.

    D.J. Scott James will be playing tunes and stand as the event’s MC. He will be officiating costume and dance contests—another reason to break out the bell-bottoms and platforms.

    The event will be held in the Gates Four Country Club Ballroom on Dec. 31 and will begin at 7 p.m.
    There is no end time set, so be prepared to disco dance your way into the early hours of 2022.

    Uniquely, this event will be open to the public, not just the residents and club members. The event is sponsored by Up & Coming Weekly, The River- 106.5 FM WMRV, Carolina Country radio 100.1 FM WFAY and Healy’s Wholesale.

    Anyone interested in attending the event can purchase tickets at FayettevilleDinnerTheatre.com or call 910-484-6200.

  • 12-29-10-new-years-mayhem.gifAs 2010 winds down, Fayetteville residents have a lot to celebrate. For many it’s the return of soldiers from deployments and for others it’s the promise of the new year and a new beginning. Whatever the case, if you want to celebrate in style look no further. This is Fayetteville’s guide to New Year’s Eve mayhem and madness. Check out one or more of these great events, but as always, if you drink remember to bring along a driver!


    Fayetteville’s official party — New Year’s Eve Party in the Park — is a family-focused event that has not just one, but two sets of fireworks. Bring in the New Year with live performances by everyone’s favorite party band — Hot Sauce.

    This event will also have a children’s area hosted by The Partnership For Children, that includes craft activities and an early New Year countdown at 8:30 p.m., with a fireworks show for the little ones who can’t make it until midnight. This area proves to be fun for all ages!

    Beer, champagne, party favors and food will be available for purchase.

    At the stroke of midnight, a dogwood blossom will drop under the spectacle of another fireworks show.

    Bring your chairs and blankets and enjoy this free event, and remember, no coolers, pets (except service animals) or weapons of any kind are allowed in Festival Park.

    If the Party in the Park sounds like your idea of fun, check out the New Year’s Eve special at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux. The package includes overnight accommodations with a late check out at 1 p.m.; hourly shuttles to and from the Party in the Park; and a New Year’s Day Brunch in the Cafe Bordeaux from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The total cost per room/couple is $109 plus tax, and you can add dinner for two at Wiley’s for a package price of $159. For more information or to reserve your room, call 323-0111.

    While you are downtown, you might want to stop in at one of the city’s favorite destinations for nightlife — Huske Hardware House. If you come early, you might want to take advantage of the special New Year’s Eve dinner special. Couples can enjoy a Huske Salad, a 10 oz. New York Strip, a side of their choice, a dessert of their choice and either a glass of house wine or champagne all for $49.99 per couple.

    As the evening progresses, the lights will go down and the party will crank up as Huske brings on dancing to the sounds of your favorite DJ, drink specials, party favors, balloon drop and champagne toast at midnight. Those attending the party will be charged a $20 cover charge at the door.

    Just down the street at Pierro’s, you can ring in the New Year in the newly constructed Sky Lounge. Enjoy a DJ-hosted event, champagne toast and party favors as you await the magic hour of midnight. Book ahead by calling 678-8885, and get tickets for just $10 per person. You can also come early and cash in on the dinner special for two, which includes two appetizers, salads, entrees and drinks.

    At Circa 1800, there will be three dinner seatings: 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Reservations are required and a special menu is available. At midnight, there will be a champagne toast. The Circa celebration is a more relaxed event and is not designed for the party-hardy crowd. For more information or to make reservations, call 568-4725.

    Lido’s is hosting its first New Year’s Bash with drink specials, countdown on the big screen and a champagne toast at midnight. Get to Lido’s early for dinner and avoid the lines and cover charges at the door. They are throwing another big party on New Year’s Day. Call 222-8237 for reservations.

    Crown Coliseum

    Another family-friendly event on New Year’s Eve will take place at the Crown Coliseum as the Fayetteville FireAntz take on the Huntsville Havoc. The FireAntz know Fayetteville likes to party, so the New Year’s Eve game will start at 6 p.m. in order to allow you to get wound up with a high energy, action-packed hockey game before you head out to other events. Visit www.fireantzhockey.com for details.

    Just up the street from the coliseum, the Doghouse is having a New Year’s Eve bash featuring Universal recording artist and local musical favorite, The Fifth. The action lasts from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. There will be party favors and free champagne. Breakfast will be served at midnight. Call 323-2400 for more information.

    Around Town

    Scrub Oaks on Ramsey Street is planning a laid back, festive celebration to bring in the New Year. The menu consists of a trio of specials selected from votes that customers have submitted in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Check out the website www.scruboaks.com. The eight big-screen TVs will follow the countdown with Ryan Seacrest in New York. Folks are welcome to make reservations, but there is no formal seating plan for the evening, and don’t forget the midnight champagne toast.

    The Doubletree Inn on Cedar Creek Road is hosting a three ballroom entertainment extravaganza. Look for R&B and Hip Hop in one ballroom with Gilbert Vaez as the DJ. The second ballroom will feature a live band and plenty of jazz music with Buddy McCloud and the Two Reel Band and guest artist Reggie Codrington. The third ballroom will be more of a social mixer atmosphere with a tribute to Fat Daddy’s Bar and Grill. Entertainment will include karaoke, speed dating and other mixer activities. Pay one price and enjoy all three parties.

    Tickets are $40 per single, $75 per couple and include heavy hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and party favors. Stay the night for $109 dollars and get not only a room but breakfast for two. Tickets are available at Twice as Nice Boutique on Bragg Boulevard, Rogers Law Firm on Bow Street or by calling 578-2959.

    Regulars at Legends Pub know that there is always a good time to be had at 4624 Bragg Boulevard, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. Come on over and ring in 2011 with your favorite bikers. Call 867-2364 for more information.

    Fort Bragg

    Competitive bowlers check out the New Year’s Eve Tournament at Airborne Lanes. From 8 p.m. - 2 a.m., for just $25 for adults and $15 for kids you’ll get an all inclusive bowling experience. There will be a Cosmic 9 pin tournament, a champagne toast at midnight and prizes and give-aways throughout the evening.

    Just down Yadkin Road, The Big Apple is pulling out all the stops for its New Year’s Eve Silver, Gold and Black party. The event starts at 9 p.m., and patrons are asked to dress to impress. The evening features drink specials, dancing and prizes, a balloon drop and champagne toast at midnight and the crowning of Fayetteville’s King and Queen of the New Year! The party starts at 9 p.m. Call 868-5559 for more information.

  • 'The Carols' intimate, endearing, packed with comedy

    carols tapThe quaintness of the Gilbert Theatre is perfectly matched for its current holiday musical, "The Carols." This play is intimate, endearing and packed with comedy.

    "The Carols" is set in 1944, when WWII is raging, and Christmas is just around the corner. With too few men in their small town, the Carol sisters have to figure out creative and "progressive" ways to continue their town's holiday musical tradition — the play "A Christmas Carol." They enlist the help of their boss at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall and a drifter in the form of a Jewish comedian to bring a ridiculous and hilariously amusing version of "A Christmas Carol" to life.

    While this play is a little left of tradition from the typical Christmas musicals and ballets, it is a welcomed journey into the antics of three quirky small-town gals in the 1940s. It combines the humor of "I Love Lucy" with heartfelt moments akin to Charlie Brown. The music, which found itself bouncing between Christmas tunes and big swing bands, added a rich depth to the story and the interlaced humor throughout.

    The sisters, Lily, Silvia and Rose Carol, are played by Eden Kinsey, Molly Hamelin and Megan Martinez, respectively. Kinsey's singing and intermixed monologues were a great addition to the play, particularly when matched against Silvia's budding dream of becoming the next feminist heroine in the county and Rose's desire to land a man and her inability to pronounce words with silent letters correctly.

    Both Hamelin and Martinez develop their characters well. Martinez's far-off looks, slap-happy smiles and general embodiment of a Marilyn Monroe-like character often stole the show. The interaction between the three characters was part of the magic that makes this show worth seeing.

    This was an exceptional pairing with Karen Williams, who played Miss Betty, a middle-aged grouch who runs the VFW hall, and Evan Bridenstine, the Jewish comedian Melvin Shaatz. Bridenstine was missed on stage when a scene did not call for his presence. While Bridenstine's character on stage was a comedian, it was clear that the actor himself knew how to deliver a line. At the back of the stage, providing all of the piano accompaniments for the show, was Katherine Anderson playing Teddy. Teddy has little to no lines in the show except for a few comedic lines at the end.

    While the play touched on heart-felt moments and serious topics, the show's true star was the humor. The neurotic and sometimes strange behaviors of the characters, embodied by the various actors, left the audience thoroughly entertained and laughing the whole way through. The serious moments paled in comparison to the main characters' tomfoolery. "The Carols" is definitely a show for those who prefer their holidays a little lighter and find the prospect of laughing through the holidays better than crying.

    Untraditional Christmas show is a hoot

    carols sistersWe've all heard the traditional classic Christmas songs and stories. They warm our hearts year after year.

    But there is a new holiday show in town – "The Carols" at the Gilbert Theater.

    The musical takes place in 1944 during World War II. All the men are away overseas taking part in the war. The three Carol sisters want to put on "A Christmas Carol," but they find themselves needing actors. They put up signs and nab Melvin, an entertainer passing through the town.

    They convince Miss Betty, a Scrooge-like woman, to participate in the sisters' show.

    Teddy plays the piano and the three Carol sisters star in their show. Eden S. Kinsey, who plays Lily, is the lead actress in "The Carols." She alternates acting with the cast and talking to the audience, moving the music forward.

    Molly Hamelin plays Sylvia. Sylvia is interested in politics, especially Eleanor Roosevelt.

    Sylvia goes as far as writing to Mrs. Roosevelt and inviting her to their Christmas show.

    All the actors are talented, but Megan Martinez, who plays Rose, steals the show. Rose is a boy-crazed young lady who wants to get married.

    She is silly, and her happiness is infectious. She had the audience laughing often.

    Rose is quirky. For example, she doesn't believe in silent letters in words, so instead of "ghost," she pronounces it "Ga-Host." The moment you forget that fact, Barnes will mispronounce a word again, making the audience laugh.

    The musical production highlights the cast's many talents. The Carol sisters' voices blend beautifully together. Lily and Melvin do a number in which they both sing and dance. It is unique because Lily tap dances, a highlight in the show for Kinsey. The Gilbert Theater, located downtown, is the perfect venue for "The Carols."

    It's intimate, and you can sit so close to the stage that you feel like you are a part of the show.

    The hairstyles and clothing are just the right fit for the play's era. Jennifer Childs wrote the book and lyrics for "The Carols."

    The music is by Monica Stephenson and was originally staged by Robyne Parrish in Pennsylvania.

    This untraditional Christmas show is a hoot.

    It is the perfect way to feel the Christmas spirit with friends and family.

    Snatch up some tickets and enjoy the show.

  • Disney on ICeDisney On Ice presents Mickey's Search Party at the Crown Coliseum on Dec. 16 through Dec. 19. Mickey and his friends go on an adventure to find Tinker Bell. Captain Hook's treasure map, which he used to capture her magic, guides Mickey to find Tinker Bell. With the help of Miguel from the Pixar movie Coco, the group crosses the Marigold Bridge, where they find the magical Land of the Dead. Here skeletons dance over the audience in a beautiful cultural celebration of family.

    Mickey and friends also visit the wintery world of Arendelle, where Elsa is building an ice palace. The audience can sing along as a kaleidoscope of crystals turns into her home.

    An enchanted chandelier will come to life over the ice as Belle is lifted into the sky. Then the audience will witness the power of teamwork when Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie recruit the Green Army Men and plan a daring rescue in Andy's room.

    In hopes that the pirates can impress Captain Hook, they flip, tumble and twist. Some of the pirates even walk on stilts. The audience will experience the fiery wrath of Te Ka on Moana's daring sailing voyage, and with the help of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, Mickey's Search Party becomes an all-out celebration.

    Getting ready for performance and saying y takes time and work. "Depending on the show and the variety of talent/skills being featured, training and building the show can take roughly two to three months," Jamie Hathaway, who plays Bo Peep, said.

    Another performed trains x days a week to keep up with the physical demands of the performance.

    "I typically practice on the ice or train in the gym six days a week," Sarah Dalton, the performer playing Moana in the show, said.

    "I, like most of my cast members, came from a competitive background. We try to stay as limber and fit, specifically cardiovascularly, as possible. I love to run around the different cities, go to yoga/pilates studios and develop my upper body strength with friends. The show incorporates aerial elements, so we've taken the extra steps to hold ourselves while being lifted in the air."

    Jaime Hathaway fell in love with the show when she was just about five years old.

    "I remember how happy it made me feel, and the outside world ceased to exist for those two magical hours," said Hathaway. "I love being a performer and having the ability to distract someone in the audience. Even if it's only a few minutes, it is worth it to me."

    Dalton also recognizes the memorable experience Disney on Ice is for small children.

    "I get to be excited over an adorable child in the front row singing her heart out to Moana with someone else. Those shared experiences are some of my favorite aspects of this job," Dalton said.
    Tickets for the show are on sale now at www.crowncoliseum.com.

  • ricks placeOnce a month, military families can take a break and enjoy a day to themselves at Rick’s Place. The Rick Herrema Foundation focuses on strengthening relationships and building community for military families through fun, quality activities. They host events and fun days at Rick’s Place, a 50-acre park, to not only offer kids a place to have fun but show military families to know they aren’t alone.

    “Every month, we try to give back to families that give the most,” Vicky Jimenez, director of programs at RHF, said.

    At this special holiday-themed event, not only will hayrides, inflatables and other fun activities be available, there will also be some special winter activities. There will be hot cocoa and cookies, for decorating, and Santa Claus will be posing for pictures.

    Local food trucks are scheduled to be on-site and offer free lunches to everyone attending the event.

    Jimenez told Up & Coming Weekly that, on average, 250 families come to their monthly Fun Day events.

    However, last week she noticed that over 500 families have pre-registered.

    Those numbers are great, especially since each family will also be helping an at-risk community while having fun, she said

    “It’s the season of giving. We made it through another year with all of the ups and downs we’ve had,” Jimenez said. “We wanted to give back.”

    The Rick Herrema Foundation is partnering with the Military Luggage Company and the Fayetteville Woodpeckers to help donate 187 backpacks to local at-risk and homeless veterans.

    They are asking families attending the Holiday Family Fun Day to donate the following needed items to be put into the backpacks: new socks, toiletries, hygiene products, chapstick, warm blankets, winter coats, winter gloves, warm hats, new shoes, warm scarves, over-the-counter cold medicine and handheld first aid kits.

    True Patriot Inc. Off-Road Outreach will give out the backpacks on Jan. 10 as part of the “Backpacks for Patriots” event at Operation Inasmuch.

    This RHF event and others require volunteers. There are many volunteer opportunities, such as helping with significant events such as the Family Fun Day, but there are also hands-on opportunities like carpentry, working with horses and general labor.

    To become a volunteer, contact the volunteer coordinator at volunteer@rhfnow.org.

    The family fun day will take place on Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pre-registration is required to attend and is open only to military families.

    To register, visit rhfnow.org/event/ricks-place-holiday-family-fun-day/.

    The park is located at 5572 Shenandoah Drive. For more information, visit rhfnow.org/events or call the Rick’s Place team at 910-444-1743.

  • ToydropThe United States Veterans Corps' (USVC) is "a group of military and first responder veterans performing 'hands on' community service with a mission deployment attitude," according to their website myusvc.com. Toys For Lil Troops Program, a part of USVC, is the Guinness World Record holder for the largest number of toys donated in 24 hours.

    The goal of Toys For Lil Troops is to provide toys to the children of deployed and low-income troops. And USVC, with their Toys for Lil Troops program, plans to bring all their toy power to bear on behalf of Fayetteville area military and first responder affiliated children on Dec. 18. With the support of Skyfest, a North Carolina community festival that sports all variations of aerial displays, such as parachute demonstrations, flyovers, helicopter rappelling and memorable performances, Operation: Toy Drop is stacked for family fun success.

    The event will begin with a flyover by the Bandit Flight Team during the national anthem.

    Based out of Raleigh, the Bandit Flight Team flies vintage planes and describes themselves as "highly-trained, experienced pilots that combine their love of flying with an appreciation for vintage military aircraft."

    Next, the All Veterans Group, a group comprised of active military and veteran parachutists, will do a demonstration jump and lay the foundation for the man of the season. Santa will be next to "drop-in," but Santa won't be alone; his elves and the Grinch will be parachuting in, too.

    Toys wrapped in sacks will be dropped in from a Special Operations helicopter using special 5-foot parachutes specially sized for the task.

    The American Bombshells will entertain the crowd during the aerial demonstrations and announce giveaway winners.

    This is Operation: Toy Drop's third year; last year, the event was very different due to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of folks walking around, it was a drive-up event.

    Amelia Smith attended Operation: Toy Drop last year with her nephews and a friend's children. Even having to drive through the event, they had a great time. "It's really is an awesome event for anybody to take the kids to," Smith said. Smith explained that the USVC set up an organized and thoughtful event despite being set up to be driven- through. With limited information from each child, including age, volunteers could choose and distribute appropriate presents for each child.

    Smith's group of kids could even hop out of the vehicle after the Grinch parachuted in to grab a few quick pictures.

    This year will be much different; hotdogs, chips and drinks will be on offer for attendees, and visitors will be able to roam the event and experience all that is on offer.

    Founder of the USVC and Toys For Lil Troops, Staff Sgt. Stan Pinkus will be in attendance with his family.

    Pinkus, who has faced some health issues, was cleared to jump in with the parachutists for the event. The organization has a special surprise planned to honor him on his upcoming eightieth birthday.

    Operation: Toy Drop will be held at Raeford Airport, located at 155 Airport Drive. The event is from 2 to 4 p.m. However, USVC President Andrew Ladner recommends attendees be on time. While the organization has secured what Ladner described as an "18 wheeler" of toys, they do go fast.

    "Be on time; the toys go fast! So, while the event says 2 p.m to 4 p.m., it starts at 2. My advice is to show up when it is says to show up," he said.

  • 82nd Airborne bandThe 82nd Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division Band and Chorus are set to host their annual Holiday Concert at the Crown Coliseum on Dec. 10. This event marks a return for the in-person performance of the Holi-day Concert; as last year, the event was an all-virtual event. In 2020 the concert was recorded in the Crown Coliseum with no live audience and released over social media.

    "We are thrilled to be bringing this event back for a live audience this year," explained Sgt. 1st Class Tyler Goodwin, band member, 82nd Airborne Division Band and Chorus.

    The Holiday Concert will feature several holiday classics. Goodwin explained that his favorite pieces scheduled for the event are "White Christmas," the "Armed Forces Ser-vice Medley," and the "Nutcracker Suite."

    "This really gives the amazing vocalists in the Chorus the chance to demonstrate their talents on a classic piece of music," Goodwin said of "White Christmas." While the "'Nutcracker Suite'" is a "beautiful arrangement [that] takes a new twist on some classic melodies and showcases virtuosity from within the band."

    Goodwin also explained that the "'Armed Forces Service Medley' is another favorite because "honoring all who have served past and pres-ent in this manner is an amazing experience and allows for a musical tribute that is both entertaining and sophisticated."

    Organizers and band members hope the community will walk away from the event with an appreciation of the 82nd Airborne Division.

    "The legacy of the Division is rich with history and important military milestones and a concert like this is meant to showcase the diversity and values that all paratroopers live by and promote," Goodwin said. "In addition, we want to celebrate the opportunity to share in the enjoyment of the holidays and live music after such a tumultuous almost two-year period."

    The 82nd Airborne Division Band and Chorus will be accompanied by four accomplished country musicians: Craig Morgan, Michael Ray, Abby Anderson and Natalie Stovall.

    "This has been a challenging year for so many, and we've asked a lot of our paratroopers and their families," said 82nd Airborne Division commanding general Maj. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue. "We've invited some of the best talent Nashville has to offer to play alongside our band and chorus as a way to give back to our families for all they've given the nation."

    A world-renowned fiddler and Grand Ole Opry on-air personality, Natalie Stovall, will serve as hostess for the event. Stovall was also a contestant on season 13 of NBC's"The Voice." While Stovall did not win the competition, she has continued to reach audiences through solo and group performances.

    Craig Morgan, originally from Tennessee, is a U.S. Army veteran. Morgan served as a forward observer and started his musical career in 2000. He has charted 17 times over the years. His song "That's What I Love About Sundays" topped charts for four weeks in 2006. Also, in 2006, Morgan was awarded the USO Merit Award for his tireless support of U.S. soldiers and their families. Morgan told American Songwriter Magazine, "Because I have been there, I can appreciate that and have the ability to communicate with them a little differently."

    Michael Ray originated from Florida and began his country music career in 2010. His most recent album, "Whiskey in the Rain," was released in September of this year.

    Country music personality, Abby Anderson, debuted her musical career at the age of 16 on the Glen Beck show and moved to Nashville after graduating high school in Texas when she was 17 years old. Anderson has performed at the Country Music Awards and has received multiple musical accolades.

    Santa will also be at the show and sitting for photos with children from 4 to 6 p.m. The country music performers will be in attendance at a meet-and-greet and take photos with fans from 5 to 6 p.m.

    In accordance with Cumberland County mandates, ticket holders must show their COVID-19 vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test from 72 hours before the event. Masks will be required while in the venue. All tickets are free and available to Fort Bragg soldiers, their families and the general public.

    Tickets will be distributed to soldiers and their families through their units. To inquire about and reserve tickets, the general public is asked to contact WKML 95.7 at www.wkml.com or call 910-496-2000.

  • imagejpeg 062A place where nature and adventure meets — that’s what Sweet Valley Ranch promises its visitors. They have offered Dinosaur inter-actions during the hot summer months and a terrifying haunted house around Halloween. Now that it’s December, the Ranch will be covered in Christmas and holiday lights. Festival of Lights was started last year during the pan-demic.

    Fred Surgeon came up with the idea and soon enough, 18,000 people came out to look at the lights over the course of 17 nights.

    This year, there are more lights, more attractions and an entirely new interactive section of the event.

    “Be prepared for an amazing, dazzling, sparkling light show,” Debbie Munn, executive assistant, Surgeon & Associates, Inc., said. “This year at Festival of Lights, we are going to incorporate all of the attractions we’ve had during the year into the light show.”

    The Festival of Lights features over one million lights and 350 animals throughout the show. The light displays range in themes as well. Dinosaurs, Star Wars, a Gingerbread House, a life-size nativity scene and a Military and First Responders Tribute. The Grinch will also be by Tiny's Winter Wonderland and be causing some chaos of his own at the Grinch’s Mansion. There are two sections of the festival. The main part of the event will be drive-thru only where visitors in their cars can see all different types of light displays. There is also a Drive-Thru concession called Cattleman’s Loft.

    “You don’t even have to get out of your car,” Munn said. “You can buy food, you can buy gifts, you can buy T-shirts from all of our attractions.”

    The Cattleman’s Loft will also feature a 14-foot Christ-mas tree, named Gabriel’s Trumpet Tree for how it is decorated.The other section of the event will where the corn maze was for the Halloween attractions, Tiny’s Winter Wonderland. This is where people can walk around and interact with the attractions. People can park, get out of their cars, get some food and enjoy amusement rides as well as visits with Santa.

    But the lights are not the only thing that will create excitement at the Sweet Valley Ranch. They also are aiming to help local charities and local non-profits.

    The Surgeons have created the Sweet Valley Ranch Gives Back Program. This program, which only launched a little more than a month ago, is to help charities that help people locally.

    If charities can man one of the concession trucks over in Tiny’s Winter Wonderland, during one of the nights of Festival of Lights, they will receive at least a $500 portion of the proceeds as well as a match of up to $1,000 from Fred Surgeon and his wife.

    They started the program with their Halloween event. They plan on continuing the Give Back program throughout their other events next year: Dinosaur World, Tiny’s Corn Maze, and Backwoods Terror Ranch.

    The goal of Sweet Valley Ranch Gives Back, backed by Surgeon & Associates, Inc., is to give $50,000 minimum over the course of the year. So far, $8,000 has been donated to three different charities. Operation Inasmuch received $2,000, Agape Pregnancy Support Services received $2,000 and the Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity received $4,000.

    They are open to working with more local charities over the course of the year. If you are interested in your organization being considered please email svrgives-back@surgeon-associates.com the organization name, contact person, phone number and a brief statement on why you would be a good fit for the program. The charity must be a non-profit and provide services within Cumberland County.

    Tickets for the Festival of Lights can be purchased online or at the ticket booth. Tickets for adults and children are $10 a person. Children aged 2 or under are free. Farm Wagon tours are also available for large groups. Prices start at $230 and can go up to $750.

    Sweet Valley Ranch will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The final night of the event will be on Dec. 26.

  • 12-05-12-rotary-parade.gifThe 13th Annual Christmas Parade will be stepping off at 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 8, come rain, snow or shine. The parade is sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Fayetteville, West Fayetteville and the Lafayette Chapter. According to Matthew Smith Jr., parade co-chair, the event has grown from 55 entrants in 2000 to 110 entrants in 2012 and this year’s event promises to be one of the best.

    The parade assembles at the Cumberland County Courthouse parking lot and will proceed down Person Street and turn onto Hay Street. It will pass the reviewing stand located in front of the Cumberland County Arts Council continuing up Hay Street and concluding at the train station. The parade route is approximately three-quarters of a mile and will not be crossing any train tracks. It is scheduled to be two hours in duration and will be broadcast live by Time Warner Cable News 14 and available on-demand two days later.

    “Over the past 13 years we have had several unique and interesting entrants. Of note, two come to mind. Two years ago there was a full complement of Star Wars characters and some of the costumes cost more than $1,000. The children screamed their appreciation. The Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department had a float with spinning Christmas trees, water fountains and a cabin with smoke curling from the chimney. We are always curious as to what they will come up with next,” said Smith.

    There will be 10 high school bands represented and each year the Rotary Club invites the local elementary schools to select one student to ride on each of the floats. This invitation provides the child with ‘a-once-in-a-lifetime experience’ and a memory they will talk about for years. A parade could not be successful without volunteers and each year. Rotarack, the college-age Rotary auxiliary from Methodist University, has been essential in providing logistical support. Other volunteers come from a cross section of the city’s residents.“

    The parade has had its humorous moments. Several years ago a pick-up truck made it onto the parade route and drove in the opposite direction for the duration of the parade. There was also a man who snuck on to the parade route with a pony wearing poorly attached antlers. Neither were registered to participate. And of course, marching behind horses can be daunting so we had to insist that every entrant who used horses came equipped with a person armed with shovel and bag walking directly behind,” Smith said. “This has been a labor of love over the past 13 years and we are thankful for the continued support of the Cumberland County residents, businesses and volunteers. We look forward to another memorable event this year and after all, everybody loves a parade,” he added.

    For more information, visit the Christmas Parade website at www.rotarychristmasparade.com.

  • DBA marketDirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is set to host their fifth annual Christkindlmarkt This unique German Christmas Market offers attendees a selection of German-inspired food, local artists and makers, Weihnachts Musik — Christmas music — and community spirit.

    The annual Dirt Bag Ales Christmas Market has changed and grown over the years.

    “We started with 20 vendors the first year in Hayat’s Yoga Studio,” said Shannon Loper, the operations manager at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom. “That year we donated the beer."

    This year there will be triple the number of vendors.

    "There will be about 60 vendors taking part in the event this year,” Loper said.

    What began as a small one-day event is now a weekend event like no other in the area.

    "Five years ago, the German Christmas Market was a mutual collaboration with Hayat Hakim. Since then, we have carried on the tradition annually, growing it to a full weekend of events,” Vernardo "Tito" Simmons-Valenzuela, Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom, co-owner/head brewer said. “People come because it is the only event like it in the area.”

    German music is a part of the experience and there will be several groups performing. The Fayetteville Bavarian brass band, Cross Creek Chordsmen and Fayetteville Barbershop will all add to the ambiance of the market. Vendors will be selling different wares including soaps, honey, metalwork, Christmas tree ornaments and more.“We strive to find vendors that fit with the theme and spirit of the event,” Simmons-Valenzuela said.

    The special food offerings at the event will focus on German favorites such as schnitzel, brats and German potato salad. The food trucks scheduled for the Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom German Christmas Market are R. Burger, Vagabond, Street Fare, Household Six, Grazing Buffalo, Beefy Buns and Authentique.

    Finally, what would a German market be without German beer? Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom will be serving Ein-bahnstraße-Hefewiezen, Märzen Attacks (an Oktoberfest Lager), a special vanilla, bourbon, and cinnamon cask-aged beer and a house made Gluvine. This event runs into the evening and the market will be lit to create a magical space.

    Dirtbag Ales is located at 5435 Corporation Drive. Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom describe themselves as being “about great friends, a genuine passion for hand-craft-ed beer and breaking the status quo.”

    The event will be at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is located at 5435 Corporation Drive, just off Tom Starling Road. Dates and times of the event are Dec. 10 from 5 to 10 p.m.; Dec. 11th from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Staying Focused

    Life can sometimes get a little crazy. How blessed we are to have so many re-sources available to help us focus on what is most important.12-19-12-buzz.gif

    One of those re-ources is Christian music. In ‘The Buzz’ we often highlight the latest Christian-music releases or what is happening lately with the artists who bring us this music we love. The primary ingredient of a truly great song is how its message can take us from where we are, emotionally or spiritually, to where we need to be. So this week it seems appropriate to let the lyrics from a new Christmas song help us to focus on the most wonderful aspect of this most wonderful time of the year.

    For King & Country

    “Baby Boy”
    If you told me all about your sorrows
    I’d tell you about a cure
    If you told me you can’t fight the battle
    Theres a baby boy who won the war
    The war was won by a baby boy


    Before there was that silent night
    No Savior and no Jesus Christ
    The world cried out so desperately
    And a baby boy was the reply
    Yes Heaven’s reply was a baby boy

    See, the King is coming down
    And He’s here without a crown
    The baby boy without a bed
    Giving life back to the dead
    Hear the angels shout it out
    As the people come and bow
    Unexpected majesty
    Hallejuiah what a King

    Maybe all we need to get our life back in order can be found in a baby boy. Wishing you and those you love the very best Christmas!

  • Rise of the Guardians(Rated PG) 3 Stars12-26-12-guardian.gif

    Apparently, Rise of the Guardians (97 minutes) was a series of children’s books. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of both movies and books, and I must say this is the first time I’m hearing of this. I now feel a deep and abiding shame and I must go forth to Barnes and Noble and read all three William Joyce originals. Although, the movie does take place about 200 years after the original stories covered in the books.

    The film starts out with some freaking gorgeous visu-als. The palette is a nice combination of blues, greys, and whites with accents of gold, red, and peacock. So give the guy that picked out the color combos an Oscar. The writers need a spanking though. Would it have killed somebody to point out the lack of powerful female characters in the film? Make no mistake, Guardians is boy’s town.

    This is especially irritating since there are so many places in the narrative which, with just a little bit of tweaking, a strong female character could easily fit. Have they never heard of Mother Nature? Did the Easter Bunny need to be a boy? What about a clever little gender reversal in which Santa Claus laments the patriarchal twisting of her story? Then there’s the fact that the one major fe-male character is more than a little bit ditzy and dressed in brightly colored feathers. Way to reinforce gender stereotyping, movie!

    We open with the birth of Jack Frost (Chris Pine). The Man in the Moon brought him to life to serve as the spirit of winter, but didn’t give him any other information. Fast forward to just before Easter Sunday, roughly present day, where Jack has been invisible for 300 years or so since people don’t believe in him. What people do believe in is Santa Claus with a Russian accent and no wife (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (stupid Isla Fisher), and the Australian Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman, still doing penance for appearing in the Wolverine movie) and Sandman (Heather Romagano in a non-speaking non-acting role).

    These latter four meet up at the North Pole where yetis are making toys and elves are “helping.” They find out that a crisis is imminent and The Man in the Moon has chosen a new hero to join them in guarding the children of the world. Naturally, that’s Jack Frost. But he’s a loner, baby, a rebel. He doesn’t play well with others and they don’t take him seriously. I wonder if the rest of the film will be about how Jack Frost is hiding is own feelings of inadequacy behind flippant remarks and then he makes a mistake — due in part to his insecurity — and gets rejected by the real champions but then redeems himself in some final lone wolf act of heroism? Whoops. I just gave away the plot of every PG kids movie ever. My bad.

    Anyhoo, enter the villain. The Bogeyman AKA Pitch Black (Jude Law) flipped through Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather and was inspired by the tooth fairy subplot contained therein. He is tired of being ignored in favor of friendlier fantasy figures and hatches a plot to destroy the belief that makes them real while leaving him invisible.

    Overall this was a fine family film. I mean, have a talk with your children about sexual politics and the patri-archal ideology communicated through-out the narrative, but other than that not bad. If you stick around during the credits there are some extra scenes.Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

  • 01coverUAC122618001 Scene: the early 1980s at Cross Creek Mall. In a music store, a recent Army-spouse transplant and theater actress, Deborah Martin Mintz, spies a cassette tape of one of her favorite Broadway musicals, “Cats.” It is the only copy in the store. As she reaches for the tape, she encounters another hand reaching for the tape at the exact same time.

    The other hand belongs to a longtime Cumberland County Schools elementary educator, Claire Mansfield, who invites her newly discovered friend to dinner.

    That dinner was the beginning of Mintz’s journey into the Cumberland County arts scene.

    Today, though she might not admit it, Mintz holds the unique distinction of having significantly impacted the development of nearly every arts and cultural institution in the county. Early this year, she will retire from a 25-year career working with the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. For 17 of those years, she served as its executive director.

    That dinner in the early ’80s led to Deborah meeting the community of creatives and visionaries in this area who were not then as well-known or easy to find as they are today. At that time, there were only two major theaters in town: Fort Bragg Playhouse and Fayetteville Little Theatre, which would later be renamed Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    Through the dinner, Mintz connected with Bo Thorp, FLT’s founding artistic director. Soon, Mintz was volunteering backstage for FLT’s production of “Annie,” and soon after that, she was hired as FLT’s box office manager in addition to acting both there and at FBPH. One of her first roles was as Lenny in “Crimes of the Heart,” directed by Thorp.

    Four years later, Mintz was at a crossroads. “Both my parents had died, and I’d gotten a divorce,” she said. “My mother died when I was 29, and my dad died right after.” On top of that, she’d already begun the process of moving to Fort Meade, Maryland, with her now-former husband.

    Thorp reached out to Mintz and encouraged her to move back to Fayetteville and work for FLT, which had at that point been re-christened Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    “I remember thinking, if ever there was a woman in transition, here it is,” Mintz said. She accepted Thorp’s offer, coming on as CFRT’s developing and marketing director and later moving up to associate director.

    Eventually, she needed to slow down from the breakneck pace of working both onstage and behind the scenes in theater.

    That’s when she accepted a job offer from the Arts Council, joining the staff in 1993 as associate director. The Arts Council had been founded 20 years prior to Mintz’s arrival by visionaries from organizations like FLT, Junior League of Fayetteville and Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra.

    “Before I came to the Arts Council, I did not fully understand it,” Mintz said, noting that the function of an arts council in each county is unique. “Basically, our Arts Council receives funding wherever it can and then utilizes those funds to grow the community through the arts.

    “Sometimes, people think of an arts council as being here to support the arts. Actually, it’s here to support the community through the arts — which means you’re supporting the arts.”

    Mintz dove into her new role. She enjoyed using her theater chops to lead creative programing and planning. When the executive director left in 2000, Mintz accepted the position of interim executive director with the intention of returning to her previous position once a replacement was found. Then, six months later, disaster struck.

    That disaster led to Mintz and other key players making state history in advocacy for the arts — but first, the backstory.

    Less than a year into Mintz’s role as interim executive director, laws changed, and funds coming to local governments from the state were slated to disappear. That meant cultural organizations would not receive their fourth quarter funding, and arts funding would be zeroed out soon after. CFRT and FSO were just two of a multitude of cultural organizations that would suffer greatly diminished funding since the Arts Council would no longer be able to provide them with grants.

    At this time, Mintz accepted the position of executive director and rolled up her sleeves. Over the next month, she was joined by advocates, including leaders from City Council, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners and the state legislature, to nfind a solution. And they did.

    Late in 2001, thanks to their efforts, a law passed in the North Carolina General Assembly that allowed 1.5 percent of the county’s Occupancy Tax, which is tourism-related, to be allocated for financial support of the arts. The reasoning was that the organizations the Arts Council supports play a primary role in drawing both tourists and residents to visit and stay in this community.

    Mintz said former North Carolina Sen. Tony Rand, former Fayetteville mayor/former Rep. Bill Hurley and Rep. Marvin Lucas were key in the legislature, and that two leading volunteers from the community were Eric Lindstrom and Carole Goforth.

    Thanks to the passing of this law, Cumberland County became the first county in the state to create at least one stabilized source of income supporting the arts — which allowed its cultural entities to thrive in ways never before possible.

    During her 17 years as executive director, Mintz also led the development of some of this community’s best-loved events, including 4th Fridays, A Dickens Holiday and the International Folk Festival. In September, the Arts Council celebrated the 40th IFF, which it began producing right before Mintz came on as executive director.

    Following her retirement announcement, Mintz has been showered with accolades from all corners of the community. At the Arts Council’s annual holiday party Dec. 4, Rand presented her with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian award in the state. County Commissioner Larry Lancaster honored her with a public proclamation, calling her “a true pillar of the community, a champion of the arts and a dear friend to many.”

    Also at the holiday party, the Arts Council staff presented Mintz with a painting of Cayley, Mintz’s beloved dog that she adopted from a shelter, commissioned by local watercolorist Kathy Flood. Wilmington artist Paul Hill has also been commissioned to create a piece of public art that will go up near the Arts Council building to honor Mintz. The project is being spearheaded by Lindstrom and Jean Schaefer Moore, who are both past presidents of the Arts Council Board of Trustees.

    At the Fayetteville City Council meeting Dec. 10, Mayor Mitch Colvin presented Mintz with the City Key and Coin, in honor of her “devoted interest and unwavering commitment to the city of Fayetteville.”

    Ending Mintz’s career on a truly prestigious note, in November — without applying for it — the Arts Council received Ovation’s Stand for the Arts award, which is given to only 12 organizations in the United States each year. A representative from Ovation, America’s only arts TV network, traveled from Los Angeles, California, to present the award to the Arts Council at its 45th Anniversary gala Nov. 8. It came with a $10,000 grant. The award is given to recipients based on their level of community outreach and engagement; ability to create inclusive access to artistic programming; and innovative approach to arts education and skills development.

    Craig Hampton, who served as the city’s special projects director for 29 years, worked with Mintz often during his career. “She always made sure everyone was heard and considered,” he said. “She knows how to guide what comes out of a discussion with an understanding of both the art and the practical side.”

    Mary Kate Burke, who moved here in 2017 to become CFRT’s third artistic director in its 55-year history, said, “Coming from New York just over a year ago, I was very excited to move to Fayetteville because I was so aware that the business leaders in the community knew how important the arts were to quality of life here. And I think a lot of that is the unceasing work that Deborah and the Arts Council at large have done.”

    A national search is underway to fill Mintz’s position, which she will vacate early this year. Mintz said that person will need “tenacity, passion and yet an understanding that your tenacity and passion will never do it by itself. It is the love and passion of the community.”

    She added that in her retirement, she looks forward to volunteer work she’s never before had time to do, and that she will “continue to support this community that supported me.

    “When I was that woman in transition and came here, this community embraced me. As Bo Thorp said, ‘This community is about yes. If you want to come here and you want to make a difference, you are a champion.’”

  • 10 Joy “We got married on a Saturday, drove to Atlanta to spend the night and came to Fayetteville the next day.” Mississippi native Joy Cogswell’s wedding story is relatable for many military spouses living in Cumberland County. And, like many others who planned to only pass through, Joy and her husband, Bob, ended up putting down roots in Fayetteville and building a life here.

    This month, Joy retired from 45 years of playing piano in multiple capacities for Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, including every Sunday morning’s traditional 11 a.m. service. She loved what she did; in those 45 years, she only took four Sundays off.

    Joy and Bob arrived in Fayetteville Sept. 20, 1970, with plans to stay here for Bob’s four years of Air Force service. But then, they found Snyder Memorial — a place to worship that felt like home. “It’s hard to find (the spirit they carry) in a lot of other places,” she said. “That is what drew us to stay here, was Snyder.”

    Joy, who studied music education and piano at Florida State University, was recruited for her musical talents soon after joining Snyder. In December of 1970, now-retired Minister of Education Wayne Ham asked Joy to teach first-grade choir.

    “It’s kind of neat because children who were in that choir are now grown, one of them being Wayne’s son, Bruce,” Joy said. “He was 6 years old at the time, and now he’s in his early 50s.”

    Teaching first-grade choir was the start of a career in which Joy touched many more lives and saw many more young musicians grow up.

    When then-Snyder Music Director Bob Haynes formed a youth choir in 1971, Joy served as its accompanist — and later its director for 12 years. She took her position as official church pianist when the church purchased its first grand piano in January of 1974.

    In 1984, she began leading a young-musicians’ preparatory program at Methodist University, which was at that time Methodist College. Under her leadership, the program grew to 400 students strong.

    Joy also pioneered the offering of Kindermusik, an internationally respected children’s music education program, in Fayetteville. In 1990, when Kindermusik introduced new curriculum for toddlers, Joy trained and got certified to teach it. Soon, at the Arts Council and at Methodist University, she was offering the first-ever Kindermusik classes in town. She still teaches Kindermusik classes — free of charge — to residents of the Fayetteville Metropolitan Housing Authority. FMHA is a nonprofit that helps low-income community members secure safe, affordable housing.

    One of Joy’s most significant positions, which she will continue to hold after stepping down as pianist, is as director of The Snyder Music Academy. Larry Dickens succeeded Haynes as Snyder’s music director in 1999 with dreams of starting a music academy. Of course, he looked to Joy for help, and of course, she said yes. She came on as director of The Snyder Music Academy in 2002, leaving her job at Methodist in 2003 to focus fully on the new program — a program that grew from zero to 400 students in its first year.

    Today, The Snyder Music Academy offers lessons in most instruments, singing and music therapy to children and adults throughout the region.

    Joy also added Kindermusik to the mix at Snyder. Her program there has been designated a Maestro Top Program for the past 20 years — which means she is recognized as being in the top 5 percent of Kindermusik educators internationally.

    Over the years, Joy also helped create and run the Dogwood Festival sanctioned event Festival of Keyboards; accompanied Snyder’s Adult Choir and Men’s Ensemble; and served as Snyder’s Children’s Choir coordinator and Young Musicians Choir director.

    Shortly before playing her last Sunday morning service, Joy reflected on what playing piano means to her. “I believe God gave me a gift to be able to share his love through my hands,” she said. “That’s always been my goal: to have people not look at me, but to … hear what God is trying to say to them through the music.

    “I can’t say enough about the three ministers of music I served under at Snyder.” Richard Suggs, who arrived five years ago, was the third minister of music Joy served under. “Each was different, but they were all wonderful,” she said.

    She called her church family of nearly 50 years one of the most loving congregations she has ever known.

    She also said her career would not have been possible without her husband. “He has been so supportive; he even joined the choir and the orchestra so he could see me. He has been my biggest supporter our whole marriage,” she said. "I love him dearly.”

    Of settling down in Fayetteville, Joy said, “Of course, that was God’s plan for us. That was not what we had planned to do at all. And we’ve been very happy that we did.”

    And it seems big plans for Joy’s life are not finished. Pepper Choplin, a well-known composer of choral and sacred music, recently asked Joy to play piano for a one-day concert he’ll be conducting at Carnegie Hall this May. The concert is called “Immortal Invisible: The Music of Pepper Choplin And Mary McDonald.”

    “I am honored; I think it’s God’s way of showing me that he’s got opportunities out there for me still,” Joy said.

    Photo: Joy Cogswell

  • 09Prayer for Mother Emanuel The exhibition “Leo Twiggs in Fayetteville” recently opened at the Ellington-White Contemporary Gallery on Gillespie Street. An educator and a painter, self-discovery and anonymity are integral parts of artmaking for Twiggs. Visitors to the exhibit will readily see the power of art to inspire, delight and enlighten. This is a tall order when visiting an exhibition, but if time is taken to examine and spend time with the works and understand the background of Leo Twiggs, then visitors may experience a personal self-discovery. The exhibit runs through January 19, 2019.

    Known as a pioneer in batik as a modern art form, Twiggs explores themes of race, African- American culture, politics, family relationships and personal history. Raised in South Carolina, the artist’s work reflects growing up in the 1960s to the present. The Confederate flag and other personal symbols show up in his work to expose truths about. growing up in the South.

    Other symbols used by the artist include railroad crossings, shadowy figures, hats and patterned print dresses from his aunts and mother — all symbols of his experiences. You don’t have to be African-American to enjoy and understand his work; his images touch all races and all regions as they remind us of an ever-present past and cast hope for the future. For example, in reference to the images of the railroad crossings, Twiggs said, “We all have something to cross over.”

    Visitors to the gallery will see two famous works from the “Requiem for Mother Emanuel” series. The whole series consists of nine paintings for the nine parishioners who lost their lives by the racially-motivated. murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. A horrifying event, the slayings were a national reminder of the ever-increasing number of mass murders of innocents in this country.

    So how does an artist living in South Carolina visually interpret an event that inflicted so much pain on a group, a city, a state and the nation? Twiggs said, “The series of paintings are a testimony to the nine who were slain, but the works also represent the one shining moment people came together — not because of the color of their skin but because of the human-ness in their heart.” Go to www.youtubecom/watchv=LHF6zqCWhyk to view an interview with the artist about his “Requiem for Mother Emanuel” series.

    People in the community should be aware of the significance of Leo Twiggs, a renowned artist with a national reputation, and take the time to visit the Ellington-White Contemporary Gallery to see a beautifully transcendent and spiritual exhibit. The North Carolina Arts Council understood his significance: the gallery was given a grant to bring an exhibit by the artist to Fayetteville. The gallery was one of two other local agencies that received financial support. The others were the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County and Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    Twiggs previously had a career in teaching at South Carolina State University, where he started the art department and was instrumental in opening and running the I. P. Stanback Museum. During an early part of his career, he began using the batik process — a traditional African method for decorating fabric using dye and wax.

    Similar to encaustic painting, the use of wax in a work creates a different color effect than oil or acrylic painting. The color in batik is bright in places but can be obscured by wax. What the viewer experiences in. the work is a layered message obscured by wax, looming shapes, shifting colors and anonymity.

    In batik painting, color “creeps” or bleeds into the fabric. Preventing color from staining the fabric, Twiggs uses wax to create lines that echo the properties of a resist. The resist lines are in direct contrast to the bleeding of colors across the surface of his work. One cannot help but respond to the tactility and somewhat “eeriness” of material, color, wax and Twiggs’ subject matter.

    By the 1970s, Twiggs’ national attention resulted in several solo exhibitions in the Northeast, including New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem. He has been involved in many group exhibitions that included significant artists like Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence.

    In 2002 and 2008, Twiggs was selected to design an ornament for the White House Christmas tree. From 2004-2006, a retrospective of his works traveled among prominent museums in the South. He was the first person to receive, as an individual, South Carolina’s highest art award, the Elizabeth O’Neil Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts.

    This year, the Gibbes Museum of Art announced Leo Twiggs in this year’s Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art Winner. He was selected from more than 247 artists across the South and is the first artist from South Carolina to earn the award.

    After visiting the exhibition, people might be interested in purchasing the 316-page book about Twiggs titled “Messages from Home: The Art of Leo Twiggs,” which won the Next Generation Finalist Indie Book Award. Claflin University Press publishes the book, and signed copies may still be available.

    I would be remiss if I did not express my appreciation and acknowledge the Ellington- White Contemporary Gallery for bringing the exhibition “Leo Twiggs in Fayetteville” for our community and the region to enjoy. Although the artist’s presentations at Fayetteville State University’s Rosenthal Gallery and the Pate Room at the Cumberland County Library have passed, the exhibit will remain at the gallery until Jan. 19, 2019.

    Ellington-White Contemporary Gallery is located on 113 Gillespie St in downtown Fayetteville. The gallery is free. Hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Group tours with a presentation can be arranged at no charge. For more information, call the gallery at 910-483-1388 or visit www.ellington-white.com.

  • 08norman brown Just in time for the holidays, Seabrook Performance Series presents Norman Brown’s “Joyous Holiday Concert” at Seabrook Auditorium on the campus of Fayetteville State University. It’sset for Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

    The concert also features Marion Meadows and Bobby Caldwell. “For the cost of this concert, people are getting a huge bargain, and what a gift for the end of the year to celebrate the holiday season with such great artists that have hit records in their own right,” said Aaron Singleton, marketing consultant for the Seabrook Performance Series. “The thing about Bobby Caldwell is that he has in his own respect a number of hits, but he has written hit songs for a number of other artists as well.”

    He added, “Norman Brown has sold nearly 2 million albums during his career. He has played for just about everybody who’s anybody in smooth jazz and jazz.”

    Singleton noted that Marion Meadows is up and coming.

    Norman Brown is a Grammy Award-winning contemporary jazz guitarist who picked up his first guitar at the age of 8. He has shared the stage with jazz superstars that include Boney James, Dave Koz and Gerald Albright.

    Bobby Caldwell is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter best known for his hit smash, “What You Won’t Do for Love,” that reached the top 10 on the Billboard magazine R & B and Adult Contemporary charts. He started playing the piano and guitar when he was 12 years old.

    Marion Meadows is a saxophonist, composer and contemporary jazz recording artist. He has released a total of 14 albums. He began playing the clarinet and studying classical music at the age of 9. He started playing tenor sax in high school and migrated to soprano sax.

    The Seabrook Performance Series consists of nine concerts, which started in September and will run through March. In January, the series will host the largest collection of African-American magicians and comedians in the world; in February Nick Colionne will perform; and March features saxophonist Najee.

    “Please come out and join us because you are in for a real treat at this outstanding holiday concert,” said Singleton. “It is going to be an exciting show because each of these artists bring such big energy.”

    Tickets to “Joyous Holiday Concert” cost $20- $75. For more information, call 910-672-1724.

  • 07Messiah  Without Charles Jennens, a wealthy British music and literary patron of the 18th century, nobody would be singing the “Messiah” at all. Thankfully, Jennens existed — and on Saturday, Dec. 15, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers will perform “Messiah Sing” at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

    In 1741, Jennens — who had collaborated with George Frideric Handel on a few prior pieces — sent Handel the libretto (text) of what became Handel’s “Messiah.” Pulling passages from the King James Bible and the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer, Jennens arranged them in such a manner as to depict the chronological annunciation, birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Once Jennens sent Handel the words, Handel composed the music (including the famous “Hallelujah” chorus) in less than a month. Familiar with the biblical allusions in the text, Handel also divided the oratorio into three distinct parts. Part I depicts the annunciation and the birth of Jesus Christ. Part II covers Christ’s death and resurrection. Part III depicts Christ’s ascension and subsequent glorification.

    Although born in Germany, Handel moved to London in 1712. He had made his mark as a composer of lavish Italian operas. However, in the mid-18th century, opera began fading out of style in England in favor of English language oratorios. Webster defines an oratorio as “a long dramatic musical composition, usually on a religious theme, sung to orchestral accompaniment. It is presented without stage, action, scenery or costumes.” According to one of his biographers, in order to maintain relevance and solvency, Handel began composing the more popular oratorios.

    “Messiah” debuted in Dublin in 1742 as a charity event. This original presentation was sung by a choir of 16 men, 16 boys and two women soloists. The orchestra consisted of strings, two trumpets and timpani. Over subsequent centuries, the size of both the choir and orchestra grew exponentially into lavish musical productions culminating in a production with 2,000 voices and a 500-piece orchestra. Handel’s original score underwent multiple revisions to accommodate these ever-evolving productions. Even Mozart scored a revision.

    The recent trend has been to scale back the oratorio in size to Handel’s original score and to keep the choir and orchestra more suited to the smaller venues in which Handel would have performed — like Friendship Missionary Baptist Church where COS will perform “Messiah Sings!” Under the direction of Jason Britt, the COS will present Part I of the “Messiah,” which tells the Christmas Story. Caroline Vaughan will sing the soprano solos, Linda Vandervort will solo at alto, Melvin Ezzell is featured as the tenor soloist, and Jeffery Jones will solo at bass.

    According to Britt, the COS present “Messiah Sings!” each year as the group’s gift to the community in which they have been growing and performing for more than 25 years. In addition to the oratorio, the event will feature the Cross Creek Chorale and the newly formed Campbellton Youth Chorus singing traditional holiday music. The concert starts at 5 p.m. and is free and open to the general public. Season tickets are available for $45. For tickets and information, visit www.singwithcos.org.

  • A community unto itself, Haymount offers charm and variety to visitors and residents alike. Unlike many12-19-12-haymount-story.gifbig-box stores and services, there is a story behind the establishments here — a history behind the buildings and organizations and a friendly smile and warm welcome from behind the counter, desk or pew. Those who live and work in Haymount will tell you it is a special place with a small town feel, it feels like, well, it feels like home.

    So much so that professionals looking to build relationships with their clients chose Haymount specifically because of the closeness of the community.

    In 1996 Dr. Robert Twaddell purchased Downing Chiropractic and Chiropractic Advantage. The practice was established in 1928 and was one of the first chiropractic offices in the state. Twaddell sought out the Haymount district because of its reputation as a nice community and its close proximity to his house of worship, Highland Presbyterian Church. The practice offers unique approaches to manage back pain including acupuncture and laser. Find out more about this practice at www.ahealthyback.com.

    Established in 1953, Fayetteville Children’s Clinic is the oldest pediatric clinic in town. Generations of local children prospered under the care of the late Drs. Kelly, Shaw, Powell and Breeden. Now it is Dr. William H. Kelly, Dr. Niveen Y. Iskander and Dr. Horace R. Long who are serious about providing top-notch care to their patients. Being in a small neighborhood close to the old Highsmith Rainey Hospital was appealing when the practice located there almost 60 years ago and still is to this day. Visit www.faychildrensclinic.com to learn more about this practice.

    In an emergency it is good to know that there is a place to go with your best interests at heart. Haymount Urgent Care was established in 2008. The proprietors chose Haymount because they wanted to provide comprehensive services that support a healthy community in the Haymount area. Haymount Urgent Care provides immediate unscheduled and after-hours medical care and urgent care services. They also provide affordable care and discount programs for those without health insurance. Find out more about Haymount Urgent Care at www.haymounturgetncare.com.

    At the top of the hill, Stewart Compounding Pharmacy stands ready to fill and compound all kinds of prescriptions. Complete with a clean room for making sterile products in varying dosage levels, Stewart Compounding Pharmacy is the only place in town, not just Haymount, to provide these services. This establishment has its origin in the MacKethan’s Family Pharmacy, which was established in 1908. The Stewart family purchased MacKethan’s Family Pharmacy in 1991 and are proud to continue the tradition of providing a full-service family pharmacy concentrating on the art of customized medication. Learn more about them at stewartcompounding.com.

    Physical health is just one component in a well-rounded life. There are several churches in Haymount that serve the many families in the area.

    Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, also known as the Hellenic Center, was built in 1955. The only Greek Orthodox Church in Fayetteville, and home to a lively and generous congregation, Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church provides more than a place to worship to the community. Each year the congregation hosts a Spaghetti dinner and a Greek Festival as part of its outreach to the people of Fayetteville.

    Snyder Memorial Baptist Church also has its thumb on the pulse of the community. Worship services and Sunday school classes are full on any given Sunday, but perhaps just as important, outreach efforts are well received, too. Snyder Memorial Baptist Church has a strong music program and offers classes in various instruments and voice. The church also has a childcare center and several ministry programs geared towards meeting the needs of the community. Learn more about Snyder Memorial Baptist Church at www.snydermbc.com.

    New to Haymount, but not to Fayetteville, European Gifts & Collectibles opened at 1228 Fort Bragg Rd., in October of 2011. The business moved from the Westwood shopping center after 32 years. The history and unique boutique atmosphere make Haymount a perfect fit for this shop. When Sonja Axler came to Fayetteville from Germany, she started this business to bring a taste of Europe to her new home. Although Axler passed away in 2010, her dream lives on and shoppers need to look no further than European Gifts & Collectibles for crystal and one-of-a-kind items.

    For one-of-a-kind clothes, shoes and accessories, check out Fabulous Finds at 1212 Fort Bragg Rd. Owner Samantha Thompson is known for bringing high fashion to Fayetteville. She routinely travels to New York City and Atlanta to make the latest trends available locally. There is no need to leave town to find stylish attire. When Thompson opened her shop in 2006, she knew that Haymount was the place to be. Her clientele live nearby and the ambience and history of the area make it feel like home. Find out more about Fabulous Finds Boutique and the great selection and service provided there at www.fabfindboutique.com.

    Jennifer R. Cooney, attorney at law, loves the charm of the area as well and opened her law firm there. A Fayetteville native and resident of Haymount from an early age, she knows how to serve the community of her childhood. Specializing in real-estate transactions, guardianship proceedings and estate planning and administration, Cooney is a local resource for helping residents with life’s details. Find out more at www.thecooneylawfirm.com.

    Haymount BP stands at 100 Broadfoot Ave. and has been serving the area since the 1940s when it was known as Haymount Gulf. Owner Bobby Wiggs, Jr., grew up working at the station. In an age of instant gratification and self-serve establishments, Haymount BP offers both full service and self-serve gas as well as auto repair services, state inspections, oil changes and tune ups and more. Stop by or give them a call at 910.484.62451.

    Whether Haymount is new to you or as familiar as grandma’s homemade cookies, it is worth the trip to stop by and pay a visit.

    Photo: Haymount is a favorite destination for many in Fayetteville, and for good reason.

  • 12-25-13-wwe-lays-smack-down.gifThe WWE Live returns to the Crown Coliseum on Jan. 3 with its many Superstars: WWE Champion Randy Orton, John Cena, The Bella Twins, “The World’s Largest Athlete” and The Big Show, plus many more. If this event is like previous matches, it will be a treat for fans.

    Orton beat Cena earlier this year in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match in the main event of the TLC pay-per-view fight. Cena was set to win the match until he was pulled from the ladder he had climbed and landed face-first into a table that was in the corner of the ring. Orton ended up retrieving the two belts the two were fighting over, making him the first unified champion since Chris Jericho 12 years ago. During the last few seconds of the match, Orton’s counter-attack against Cena was to handcuff him to one of the ring’s ropes, making it easier to pull him off the ladder he was trying to climb, ultimately making Orton the current face of the WWE.

    The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Fans can come join the fun as these superstars go head-to-head in some high-flying, rope-diving, chair-throwing, body-slamming action that will keep them on the edge of their seats. Tickets are $18, $28, $38, $53 and $98, and are available through Ticketmaster. Additional fees may apply and VIP Packages are also available for purchase starting at $299. With the purchase of one of two unique VIP Packages, fans get a premium ticket, merchandise and much more.

    The $299 package, which is the WWE Enhanced VIP Package, includes: one floor seat, an exclusive WWE snap back cap, a limited edition event poster, a commemorative VIP ticket holder and venue parking wherever this option is applicable. The second package, which is the WWE Superstar VIP Experience Package, is $599 and includes: one premium ringside seat, a meet and greet and an autograph opportunity with the WWE superstars, a photo with the WWE Championship Title, an exclusive limited edition WWE event chair, an exclusive WWE snap back cap, a limited edition event poster, a commemorative VIP ticket holder, venue parking wherever this option is applicable and an on-site VIP concierge. For anyone who’s ever wanted to be backstage, or up close and personal with their favorite WWE Superstars — these are the packages for them.

    The Crown Coliseum hosts several top-notch events each year and looks forward to WWE because it is such a crowd pleaser. Katie Mikos, director of marketing at the Crown Coliseum, noticed that not only do the fans get excited whenever their favorite WWE Superstars come to town, but when superstars are received by their fans the way the Fayetteville community receives theirs, it keeps these superstars coming back to perform for the people of this community again and again. “The thing that keeps the WWE coming back to Fayetteville is that Fayetteville is a great community that responds well to entertainment such as the WWE, and the WWE loves coming back to Fayetteville because of it,” said Mikos.

    For more information, visit www.wwe.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

    Photo: WWE Superstar, John Cena, giving an 11-year-old girl and her dad the VIP Experience for Hurricane Sandy Relief (Photo Credit: www.wwe.com). 

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    Ryan’s Reindeer Run is more than a foot race. It is a celebration. It is a celebration of the life of Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh and his amazing story but it is also a celebration of love, life and passion. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of this celebration on Saturday, Dec. 21. Ryan’s Reindeer Run is a 5K walk/run that is not only a great time, but it is a chance to make a difference. Named after Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh, Ryan’s Reindeer Run raises funds for the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation and other charities that provide services to kids in need and cancer patients. 


    Ryan was an athlete, an amazing community advocate, volunteer and a scholar. He had been accepted to Princeton and was ready to embark on an amazing future when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Ryan died from complications of a bone marrow transplant in 2003. He fought valiantly for 15 months before he died. His mother, Roberta Humphries, chooses to celebrate his life each year. Since Ryan was a stellar athlete and loved to run (he even wrote a book called Run Because You Can) having a race seemed like a great way to honor her son.


    “I wanted to do something fun to remember Ryan,” said Humphries. “I was visiting Charleston in 2005 and they had a Reindeer Run going on. It just seemed like a great way to remember him and to do something fun at the same time.”


    Hardcore runners are sure to enjoy the course. It is hilly and a bit of a challenge — but that is by design. 


    “The run is a lot of fun, but the fact that the course is fairly difficult is significant,” said Humphries. “It is to remind people that life can be challenging sometimes.”


    People who are interested in just having a great time while knowing they are giving back to the community will love this run, too. Sure, there are the standard awards for winners like the male and female runners who get the best times in their age groups, but there are also some awards that are all about fun. There are prizes for the top three pet finishers and their owners; the top three family finishers; the best-costumed runners; the top three strollers and runners; and the best decorated strollers. 


    “We have a category where families can register together and their times are combined for an aggregate time and then the family with the lowest aggregate time is recognized,” said Humphries. “We also have a best-sweatered runner category.”


    In planning this event Humphries is always on the look out for ways to embrace the joy and love of life that she remembers most about Ryan and turn it into part of the event. The trophies are reindeer. Every year she looks for reindeer that she can use as trophies for the event. The medals for the winners are shaped like Christmas ornaments. 


    “I want people to be able to hang these on their tree if they wanted to so they can remember the fun they had at the reindeer run instead of just putting it in a drawer,” said Humphries.


    There is such a feeling of connectedness that surrounds this event that Humphries considers it a chance to celebrate each and every year. 


    “Many of the people who run in this race never even knew Ryan, but to see them running and laughing and having fun with their friends and family is a lot of fun for me,” said Humphries. “There are families who have been doing this since the first race eight years ago. One family chooses a theme every year and comes in the most wonderful costumes. They have come as Whos from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, they’ve come as characters from A Charlie Brown Christmas, they have come as Christmas packages. It is just so much fun to see what they will come up with next. Then there are Ryan’s friends who are runners. Many of them have married and have families of their own and they are bringing their children to run in the race.”


    The fundsthat are raised at the event go right back into the community through the Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation. Since the race was established in 2006, the foundation has donated more than $100,000 to different organizations in the community. Each year The Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation’s Friends of the Cancer Center, Better Health, the Care Clinic and the Child Advocacy Center receive funds from this event. Every spring the Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation also awards a $1,000 writing prize to a student at the Fayetteville Academy where Ryan was a student.


    Register early to make sure that there is a shirt reserved in your size on race day. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Medical Arts Building on Hay Street. For more information or to register, visit www.active.com or www.ryansreindeerrun.com. 

  • uac122513001.gif Hellas, in Hope Mills, is hosting a New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. The event, hosted by former NFL Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Billy McMullen, offers two levels of excitement, and, as an added bonus, partygoers will have the opportunity to meet cast members from the movie Joyful Noise and some other NFL greats including Chris Warren, a former Seattle Seahawk and NFL Pro Bowler, as well as several members of the Atlanta Falcons who will be on hand to celebrate Jason Snelling’s birthday. The dress code for the event is black tie for men and cocktail dresses for the women. A jazz band will play downstairs in Hellas Restaurant & Sports Bar at 7 p.m., and the party gets rocking at 10 p.m., upstairs in the club. Tickets to the event are $20 per person or $35 per couple, which includes a masquerade mask, hors d’ouevres and a champagne toast at midnight. For more information, call 426-4040.

    Club Barcelona, located at 1501 Skibo Rd., is sponsoring a New Year’s Eve Bash. Doors open at 9 p.m. You must be 18 to enter and 21 to drink. Drink specials include $5 Jager, $5 Goose, $2 domestics and free champagne for a midnight toast. Reservations are now being taken for the party via www.clubbarcelonanc.com. It is suggested that those wanting to celebrate come early, as the club is expected to reach capacity before 11 p.m. For more information, 483-2671.

    Huske Hardware is the anchor to downtown’s New Year’s Eve activities. Huske will host a New Year’s Eve Club Night, featuring a champagne toast at midnight. Dance the night way with your favorite people to music provided by one of Fayetteville’s favorite DJs, Tommy King. One cover charge gets you in the party and includes the midnight toast. Remember to dress your best; Huske New Year’s Eve parties are always great photo ops. There will be party favors, drink specials, a balloon drop at midnight and live photos from Times Square on the big screen. There is also a dinner special for two, which includes salad, your choice of two 10 oz. N.Y. strip steaks or 8 oz. salmon filets, sides and dessert with a bottle of wine or a growler of beer. Meals without alcohol are $59.99. For more information, call 437-9905.

    The Tap House at Huske Sports Bar and Grill will host its first ever New Year’s Celebration with live music, food specials and drink specials. And of course, there will be a midnight toast! Live music, party favors, champagne toast at midnight, drink specials and a live feed from Times Square. For more information, call 426-5650.

    Circa 1800 will host a more reserved party. For those looking for a great place to eat dinner before beginning your New Year’s Eve festivities drop by Circa 1800 on Person Street. Circa is hosting a full-course dinner, which will feature your choice of a red meat, chicken or seafood. Dinner seating begins at 5 p.m., with the last seating starting at 9:30 p.m. Dinner is served by reservation only, and is $85 per couple. For more information, call 568-4725.

    IT’Z Entertainment City is hosting a Black, Silver and Gold Party to ring in the new year. Patrons are asked to dress to impress to ring in 2014. A champagne toast at midnight will signal the beginning of the new year, but the party will keep going as patrons dance to the sounds of DJ SERG Sniper. Reserve your VIP party pass now by calling 826-2300. IT’Z is located at 4118 Legend Ave. in Fayetteville. For pre-party dinner or drinks, you can stop in at the Sports Bar. The Hilltop House is not usually considered a party destination, but if you would like to spend quality time with close friends and family as the old year fades away, the restaurant is now taking reservations for a New Year’s Eve Dinner. Dinner seating begins at 5 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m., which gives you ample time to get home and countdown the new year in your PJs. For reservations and more information, call 484-6699.

    If you choose to travel a short distance from home, The Pinehurst Resort is known for the elegance of its New Year’s Eve celebrations. After you grab your party favors, you can dance the night away to The Band of Oz and make a toast at midnight with a glass of champagne. The New Year’s Eve package includes your room, dinner in the Carolina Dining Room, the party, a midnight breakfast buffet followed by a Southern-style breakfast buffet in the morning and late check out. Cost is $244 per person. You can make reservations online at www.pinehurst.com/offers/package/new-years-eve.If you elect not to stay the night, you can partake in the party and the midnight buffet. Tickets are $90 per person and can be purchased via www.shoppinehurst.com.

    A little further from home, Broadway at the Beach offers an all-inclusive party that is hard to beat. The following events will all take place at the shopping complex:

    Celebrations Nitelife’s New Year’s Eve Celebration tickets are $25 each and include entry into Malibu’s Surf Bar, Club Boca, Froggy Bottomz and Broadway Louie’s. Doors open at 7 p.m. There will be confetti canons, a complimentary champagne toast when the clock strikes midnight, live music inside Froggy Bottomz with Diversity, DJ BZ inside Malibu’s, DJ Joey inside Club Boca and Broadway Jake hosting a karaoke show inside Broadway Louie’s. For more information, VIP packages and/or to purchase tickets call 843-444-3500 or stop at Broadway Louie’s.

    New Year’s Eve Party in the Square A DJ will perform live in Celebrity Square from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $25 each and include admission to the clubs of Revolutions, Crocodile Rocks, Rodeo Bar & Grill and Senor Frogs, where each venue will host their own midnight celebration! For more information or to purchase tickets, call 843-444-8032 or 843-315-0120.

    Carlos ‘n Charlie’s Old School New Year’s Eve 80’s Party tickets are $10 per person for 21 years of age and older and $20 per person for 18 to 20 years old. Live 80’s style music provided by DJ Lui Diamante.

    Hard Rock Cafe New Year’s Eve Concert & Party Doors open at 9:30 p.m. with live music from Black Glass. Tickets are $25 per person plus tax in advance or $30 per person plus tax day of. VIP Tickets are also available for $75 per person plus tax and include a three-course dinner (pre-set menu with five options, salad and dessert) and a reserved table. Event is a concert style event with limited seating. Dinner served at 8:30 p.m. for VIP ticket holders. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. for all general admission ticket holders. VIP tickets will not be available that evening. For more information or to purchase tickets please call 843-946-0007.For more information about Broadway at the Beach, visit www.BroadwayattheBeach.com, call 1-800-386-4662, “like” on Facebook or follow the complex on Twitter.

  • uac122414001.gif As 2014 races to a close, many in the community are more than ready to wish it farewell and welcome what we hope will be a better, more peaceful, more prosperous New Year. What better way to welcome that New Year than with a celebration with friends and family. If you aren’t the stay at home and celebrate type, you can always head downtown for a plethora of opportunities to have fun.

    The Hilltop House is known not only for its history but for its delicious meals. Located in the historic Haymount district, it is an elegant house full of history and beauty. It was built in the early 1900s for the Kelly family as their home and business. Since then, it has transitioned to a functioning modern restaurant while maintaining the same beauty and charm as the original home. The rooms have been redecorated but the original architecture is maintained and honored.

    The cuisine is described as new southern with classic French influences. This combination brings elegance and creativity to very traditional and familiar foods. The Executive Chefs are Beth Shearin-Smith, the owner, and Mathew Graham. Graham has worked at the restaurant for many years and is renowned for his cheesecake. On Dec. 31, the restaurant is hosting a New Year’s Eve Celebration from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. It is the perfect opportunity for a romantic and relaxing dinner before enjoying the countdown to the New Year. The food is fantastic and the atmosphere is unparalleled. For more information, visit http://www.hilltophousenc.com or call 484-6699. The Hilltop House is located at 1240 Fort Bragg Road.

    If you are looking to party until the cows come home, you may want to check out the party at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux. You can countdown the New Year with your closest friends and family. Enjoy the music stylings of DJ Tommy King, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and sweets, festive party favors, prize giveaways and champagne toast at midnight!

    If you are feeling extra festive, you can take advantage of special room rates and just take a short elevator ride upstairs after the party to your room, and the next morning you can have breakfast in the cafe. Admission to the party is $35 per person. A per couple price of $150 includes not only the party but also your room for the night.

    At Pierro’s, you can enjoy a great New Year’s Even Dinner for just $59 a couple, which includes an appetizer, two salads, two entrees, two beverages and a shared dessert. After you savor a delicious dinner, you can party the night away at the Sky Lounge’s New Year’s Eve Bash. Your dinner reservation covers the cost of the ticket to the bash as well. For reservations, call 910-678-8885.

    You can also join your friends at Huske Hardware House to countdown the New Year. For the past several years, Huske has been the place to be when the clock strikes midnight, and this year the staff hopes you will join them for their big celebrati12-24-14-ring-in-2015.gifon. It all begins on Wednesday, Dec. 31, with a live deejay, drink specials, party favors, dancing and live footage from Times Square. This is one party you don’t want to miss!

    At Sky View, 121 Hay Street, you can join A Night of Excellence New Years Eve Bash, which includes DJ Diggem Down, DJ Elixer, DJ Slim and others. The party includes two floors of fun, eight Luxury VIP Booths, six DJs in one building, a Mega Money Ball Drop at midnight. It’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable night of fun. For tickets and information, visit http://clubzone.com/events/a-night-of-excellence-new-years-eve-bash.

    Another fantastic way to celebrate the New Year is with a Fayetteville FireAntz game. On Dec. 31, the hockey team plays against the Huntsville Havoc in the first of three games to determine the winner of the Hooters Cup. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Crown Coliseum located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. After a rousing game of minor league hockey, the FireAntz will host a New Year’s Celebration Party. Tickets are $14 and $5 for kids. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. For more information visit http://crowncomplexnc.com/events/fayetteville-fireantz-vs-huntsville-havoc-2/.

  • uac123114001.gif On Jan. 9, at 8 p.m., the Crown Theatre will play host to one of the nation’s hottest touring comics. Ron White is bringing his Nutcracker Tourto Fayetteville for one night only. This tour follows on the heels of the success White had with his A Little Unprofessional Tour that made a tour stop in Durham last year.

    White described this show as being very similar to the ones that have been so popular and successful in the past.

    “This is a full blown, Ron White, smack you in the mouth hour and twenty minutes of comedy, which is what I always do,” White said, while adding, “There will be a little bit of stuff from my last record, because people won’t let me quit doing it, and then tons of new stuff.”

    White’s last album, A Little Unprofessional, was released back in 2012, and according to him, could very well be his last.

    White said, “I don’t know if you will ever see another one. The real experience of the show is to see it live, there is really no reason for me to release it through television or an album. I doubt I’ll release another album. I have released five and that is more than most comedians have ever done. I don’t know that I will release another one, but I say that every time.”

    For White, touring is his preferred way of life. He speaks very highly of his fans and is very grateful for the success they have given him.

    “I never quit touring… I have been one of the top three highest grossing comics in the country for 11 years in a row,” he said. “People ask me when I am going to quit, since I am 58 now. I tell them that my fans will let me know.”

    White concluded, “As long as they are still coming out, I’m still going to do it. I love doing this so much, I can’t imagine a life without that kind of interaction. It is very addicting to have that much attention from that many people while you are talking. It is a very tough thing to walk away from.”

    Apart from his individual touring success, White found tremendous success in his past as a part of The Blue Collar Comedy Tour. The tour, which he did with fellow southern comedians, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry The Cable Guy from 2000 through 2003 catapulted White to another level of success.

    It was that tour that caused his now famous routine “They Call Me Tater Salad” to really became a hit with audiences.

    When asked about the true origins of his “Tater Salad” alter ego, White shared, “The first person to call me Tater Salad was a guy named Ross Hoskins, when we were on the USS Conserver in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor. We were having a family day on the ship and having a picnic on the front of the ship. Our cook was a horrible cook, but he made good potato salad. Actually, it was the ONLY thing I liked. On the ship, they boiled steaks; it was just horrible food. This guy (Hoskins) was down there at the picnic and they were eating all the potato salad because everything else sucked. So I called down to him and pleaded with him to come up to my station to relieve me before they ate up all that tater salad. From then on he started calling me Tater Salad.”

    The origin of his Tater Salad nickname is not the end of the military connection for White, either. He is very outspoken in his support for the men and women of the armed forces.12-31-14-ron-white-cover-pic.gif

    White said that his latest endeavor for the troops will be out in the spring. White said, “I have been doing this thing called Ron White’s Celebrity Salute to the Troops. We are filming our fifth one for CMT in March. We are working to continue to bring awareness to the fact that this country is still at war. Those young men and women are our responsibility and that is something we need to live up to as a nation.”

    Another set of trademarks of a Ron White show is his cigar and bottle of fine liquor that he partakes of while performing. That cigar and liquor, like his shows, have grown and improved as the years have gone by.

    White talked about that evolution of his cigars and drink of choice, “Early on, the cigars tasted like cigarettes, because that’s what they were. From the very beginning I started with a beer and a cigarette because I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands. Also, taking a sip or a puff was a great reason not to be talking, it’s a great pause. Then I went and quit smoking cigarettes and with the $70 a month I am saving, not smoking cigarettes, I’m now smoking $700 worth of cigars. I don’t even know what I am going to do with all that money I am saving by quitting cigarettes, I haven’t decided.” As for the types of cigars he smokes White noted, “I only smoke good cigars but I don’t smoke Cuban cigars. I would never do anything as Un-American as smoke a great cigar.”

    His current drink of choice while onstage has evolved from the can of beer to his current first choice, Number Juan Tequila Extra Anejo; he owns the company.

    When asked why fans should come out to the show instead of just popping in one of DVDs White said, “If you go to a show, it is more interactive than if you were seeing that show on television. The energy of the room is very contagious. It is easier to get caught up in it.”

    White went on to say that, “If fans are familiar with my work and have never seen me live, it will be fun. White did offer up a warning about the content of the show as only he could in saying, “Don’t bring your kids to my show, and I won’t come to your house and cuss.”

    Tickets for the show are available through Ticketmaster and the Crown Complex Box Office. Also, be sure to ask about the “200 Proof” VIP Experience and the “100 Proof” VIP Experience. Each package comes with premium seating, autographed DVDs and lots of other extras including a meet and greet after the show with White himself.

    Photo: Ron “They Call Me Tater Salad” White brings his unique brand of comedy to the Crown Coliseum for an evening of hilarity.

  •     With Christmas plans probably locked in, you might want to start focusing on the best way to ring in the New Year.     For some, that might be a quiet night at home with friends and family or maybe a trip to the beach. For those who want to ring in the New Year with a little flair, you don’t have to look too far. Many of Fayetteville’s eateries and night spots are primed to help you celebrate in style.
       {mosimage} If your idea of a wild night stops at dinner time, why not try out one of Fayetteville’s newest dining establishments? At Locks Creek Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar, the staff is offering a few New Year’s specials: prime rib, salmon filet stuffed with crab meat or a pork dish. Seatings for the New Year’s Eve meals are at 6, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Seating is by reservation only, with each dinner running $29.99. Call 323-5625 for more information.
        If you are more of a night owl, you may want to check out one of these fabulous events:
        The Holiday Inn Bordeaux is offering the most extensive, and probably most formal affair in the city. According to Ramona Moore, the director of sales, this is the third annual New Year’s Gala at the hotel. “It is a dressy event,” said Moore. “Not formal, but it’s not jeans either. It’s the kind of event where you can dress up and have fun.”
        The party starts at 8 p.m. and runs through 1 a.m. It features heavy hors d’oeuvres, party favors, souvenir champagne glass and a pony bottle of champagne to toast in the New Year.
    Perennial favorite Northtower will peform a mix of Top 40, Oldies, Beach and Rock music for dancing. And, if you party a little too hard, you can purchase an overnight ticket that not only guarantees you room at the inn, but also brunch the next day.
        Tickets for the event must be purchased in advance: Couple tickets for the overnight package are $209. Tickets without the overnight option are $159. Single tickets are $159 and $109 respectively. All members of the military receive a 10 percent discount.
    “The party keeps growing every year, and we look forward to a great event,” said Moore.
    For reservations, call the Holiday Inn at 323-0111.
        Down on Hay Street, things are going to be jumping as well.
        At the Keys Piano Bar three piano players will be on hand to entertain and delight the crowd. Steve Monroe, Frankie Allen and Richard Wojack will be taking requests all night long. Owners of the establishment are quick to point out that the bar and the show are all about audience participation. So, if you head to the Keys, be prepared to sing, clap and dance along.
        The evening’s entertainment will include a countdown at midnight with a champagne toast, heavy hors d’oeuvres and party favors. There will also be drink specials all night long. The bar is currently taking reservations for tables, but they are going fast. The standard reservation fee of $25 is still applicable, but there is an additional $25 admission fee.     For more information, call 483-3854.
        Up the street at Docks, you’re going to want to put on your dancing shoes, as Pete Everett and the Total Package take the stage at 7 p.m. After you are warmed up, Deejay Rayn will take over and will rock the club from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tickets are $40 for couples and $25 for singles. A $15 upgrade includes a breakfast buffet after the complimentary champagne toast at midnight. For more information, call 423-6257 (DOCKS).
        Just down the road, The Rock Shop is celebrating its second anniversary with New Year’s Evil. Not one, not two, but five bands will help you ring in the New Year. Featured that night are Malicious Intent, Gasoline, All She Wrote, Bound ‘n Gagged and Rot Gut Likker. There will be a mixed-drink toast at midnight, according to Sean Adkins, The Rock Shop’s owner. “It’s going to be big. You might want to get in early before it sells out.”
        The music will start at 8 p.m. and there is a $10 cover. Oh, one thing you might want to know — dressing up evil is strongly suggested. For more info, call 321-7625.
        Across town at the Big Apple, the deejay will spin tunes all night long. The party will start early, with early bird tickets (admission from 9-11 p.m.) costing $15 and tickets purchased after 11 costing $20. Free party favors, a champagne toast and balloon drop with prizes will be the highlight of the evening. For more information, call 868-5559.
        At Legend’s Pub there will be food, party favors and a midnight toast. Deejay Little John will keep the party going with a mix of rock, some dance and a little country. For the real party animal, the pub opens at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, so go early and stay late — of course, the real party won’t start until 8 p.m. For more info, call 867-2364.
        On Owen Drive, The Fifth will ring in the New Year at the Doghouse Bar & Grill. There will be the customary champagne toast at midnight and party favors for the  $10 cover. The kitchen will be open all night long for those who get a little hungry. The party should kick off in the afternoon, but The Fifth won’t come on until 10 p.m. There is no dress code for the event, and you will be able to watch the ball drop on one of the club’s many televisions.
        Over at Huske Hardware, there will be a live deejay, dancing, drink specials and a New Year’s Countdown.
    The Blue Moon Cafe will offer a full menu, as well as tappas specials and a wine and champagne toast at midnight.

    You can contact Janice Burton at editor@aupandcomingweekly.com
  • Ringing in the new year is an incredibly symbolic celebration. It is a time of reflection on the past year and hope for the coming one. It is this intense hope for the future that inspires the majority of the symbolism associated with the New Years In the South, a lot of the symbolism revolves around the New Year’s Day dinner, or as the tradition goes in Cumberland County the New Year’s Black-eyedPea Dinner, which is hosted by Lee Warren, Ed Branis and Billie West.

    The Black-eyed Pea Dinner is a long-held tradition in the area that brings the community together for a great meal and friendship.12-24-14-black-eye-pea-dinner.gif

    “This is our 21st annual event. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s the sheriff at the time, Ottis Jones, and his friend, a local attorney named Willis Brown, both had New Year’s Day Black-eyed Pea Dinners,” explained Lee Warren, the Cumberland County Registrar o Deeds. “They got together and talked about it and decided to join together and had the event at the coliseum.

    “I remember attending these dinners in the ‘70s. Otis Jones died in 1987 or 1988 and when he died, the event died with him. In 1993, I was talking with my father and my friend, Owen Spears, who was a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, and my dad, said, ‘Why don’t you guys revive the Black-eyed Pea Dinner?’“ recalled Warren. “We thought it was a good idea, so we revived it for the first time in 1993. In 1996, Owen had a career change and Ed Grannis, the district attorney, came on. Ed retired three years ago and Billie West is the new district attorney. Now, all three of us put on the event.”

    One can expect very traditional southern fair at the New Year’s Day Black-eyed Pea Dinner. “Black-eyedpeas, collard greens, candied yams and barbeque. It is traditional southern New Year’s day fare,” said Warren.

    Traditionally, the Black-eyed peas represent coin money and collard greens represent paper money. Eating them expresses a wish for prosperity in the coming year. The meal is prepared by professionals each year.

    The Black-eyed Pea Dinner is an extremely popular event. Attendance is usually about 3,000 people. This year, even more people are expected to attend. It can be difficult to plan for a variance of around 200 - 300 people, but Warren tirelessly works each year to deliver an incredible event. The most rewarding aspect for him is, “renewing old friendships and seeing people year after year.”

    “Many people come every year. It has become a good tradition for Cumberland County, and I think people look forward to it.,” he said.

    The dinner is completely free to the public. It takes place at the Crown Coliseum Expo Building. The Expo Building is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. The dinner is on New Years Day from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Bring your friends and family out and spend the first day of the new year with your neighbors.

    Photo: The Black-eyed Pea Dinner feeds about 3,000 each year.

  •     Can you spell “success?”
        That’s the word of the day if you’re planning on attending The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Crown Theatre on Jan. 6.
        The Tony-Award winning musical comedy has been wildly successful, earning critical raves across the country. The production follows six students — all in varying stages of pubescent awkwardness — as they attempt to win the spelling bee, a victory that will earn the winner a trophy and a $200 savings bond, plus a trip to Washington D.C., for the national finals. Along the way, the child spellers (played by adults) learn the true meanings of life lessons such as the importance of self-awareness and that winning, while worth striving for, is not the end all and be all.
        {mosimage}It is also something of an audience participation gig, as four volunteer audience members are pulled onto the stage to “compete” in the spelling bee. Fair warning: The words doled out to the volunteers are nigh on impossible to spell, so be prepared for a little consonant confusion if you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to be chosen as one of the four.
        The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is based on C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, an original play by The Farm improv group in New York City. The musical had its world premiere production in July 2004 at Barrington Stage Company in Sheffield, Mass. Under the direction of James Lapine, Putnam County Spelling Bee officially opened off-Broadway on Feb. 7, 2005, at Second Stage Theatre, where it ran from Jan. 11 through March 20, 2005.
        Critics were effusive about the production, with The New York Times’critic writing, “Can you spell i-r-r-e-s-i-s-t-i-b-l-e? Putnam County Spelling Bee is riotously funny and remarkably ingenious. Gold stars all around.”
        And a critic for the Wall Street Journalcalled it, “perfect in every possible way — that rarity of rarities, a super-smart musical that is also a bona fide crowd-pleaser. An ingenious blend of simplicity and sophistication, it’s not merely funny, it’s wise.”
        Actor Ryan Goodale, who plays Leaf Coneybear, said that he was a fan of the show long before he became a member of the cast.
        “First of all, it’s hysterically funny,” said Goodale. “I saw it three times on Broadway before I even auditioned for the touring company just because I loved it so much. The other thing is that it’s a William Finn show, which means that it has a serious undertone. Later in the piece, the things that the kids are going through come out and the songs become more heartwarming and poignant. You end up caring for them because what they say — or sing — is so honest.”
        The 25th Annual Putnam County County Spelling Bee will play at the Crown Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 6, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $25, $30, $35 and $45. For more information, call the Crown at (910) 438-4100, or check it out via Internet at www.crowncoliseum.com.

    Contact Tim Wilkins at tim@upandcomingweekly.com

  • Now that 2015 is upon us, you may be thinking about making some New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you’ll decide to take up a musical instrument, or hit the gym more often, or even learn a new language. All these are worthy goals, of course — but you could also gain some key benefits by working to achieve some financial resolutions.

    12-31-14-financial-resolutions.gifHere are a few to consider:

    Fill “gaps” in your investment portfolio. From time to time, you — or possibly your financial advisor, if you work with one — might identify “gaps” in your investment portfolio. For example, you might find that you are making insufficient progress on a key goal, such as saving for a child’s college education. Or you might discover that you need to place additional resources in a particular asset class to achieve proper diversification, which can help reduce the impact of market volatility on your portfolio. (Keep in mind, though, that diversification by itself can’t guarantee profits or protect against loss.) So put “filling portfolio gaps” high on your list of New Year’s financial resolutions.

    Boost your 401(k) contributions.If your salary has gone up with the new year, consider boosting your contributions to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. You may not be able to afford to contribute the maximum annual amount — which in 2015 is $18,000, or $24,000 if you’re 50 or older — but if you increase your contributions every year, you can greatly speed your progress toward your retirement savings goals. You can put this New Year’s resolution into effect by contacting your human resources or benefits department as soon as you get back to work in 2015.

    Eliminate “unhealthy” investment habits. As part of your general New Year’s resolutions, you may have decided to cut back on “carbs” and sugar-laced soft drinks, with the expectation that these moves could help your overall health. But you can also make “unhealthy” financial moves, such as chasing after “hot” stocks (which may already have cooled off by the time you find them) or selling quality investments just because their price has temporarily dropped. Strive to focus more intently on your long-term investment strategy, as opposed to reacting to short-term stimuli.

    Review your estate strategy. During any given year, you might experience major changes in your life — marriage (or remarriage), new child, new home, etc. — and these changes will have profound effects on your estate plans. But whether or not you encountered any of these events in 2014, it’s a good idea to look over your estate planning documents — such as a will, living trust, power of attorney and so forth — to make sure they are still current with your wishes. It’s especially important to update beneficiary designations on your insurance policies and retirement accounts so that they are aligned with the wishes you have expressed in your will. And if you haven’t drawn up your estate plans yet, make a New Year’s resolution to do so in 2015 — because it’s never too soon to take the steps necessary to protect your loved ones in the future.

    Unlike some New Year’s resolutions, these financial ones won’t require a big shift in your lifestyle. But if you can stick to them, they can make a big difference in your life.

    Photo: The new year is a great time to take a look at finances.

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113. Most meetings take place at Town Hall or the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation center. Until the Parks and Recreation building has been repaired following damage from Hurricane Florence, some meetings may be moved to Luther Meeting Room at Town Hall at regular dates and times. Those meetings are noted with an asterisk below.

    Board of Commissioners Monday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m., Town Hall, Bill Luther Meeting Room

    Festival Committee Monday, Jan. 7, 6 p.m., Town Hall, Front Conference Room

    Lake Advisory Committee Tuesday, Jan. 15, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center*


    For more information on these activities, contact Meghan Hawkins at 910-426-4109.

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240. 

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.


  • 12HM top 10 Here are the top ten stories from Hope Mills this past year as voted by a panel composed of Up & Coming Weekly staff and selected members of the Hope Mills community.

    1. Hope Mills Board of Commissioners rejects bid by Lone Survivor Foundation to build facility for veterans on town property.

    Lone Survivor Foundation, an organization with a national reputation for offering assistance to veterans recovering from issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, made repeated overtures to the board of commissioners to purchase town property and build a retreat for the many veterans in the Cumberland County area.

    Board members became suspicious of the waythe offer was presented to the town because it involved a presentation in closed session from Teddy Warner of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation. Warner is the son of Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner. After multiple attempts to try and convince the town to sell the land, the bid by Lone Survivor was rejected.

    2. Hope Mills Lake refills early in the year after the long-awaited restoration of the damaged Hope Mills dam.

    Heavy rains early in the year quickly restored Hope Mills Lake to its former glory after years of sitting empty following the failure of the previously restored Hope Mills dam.

    3. Attempt to change term limits for town officials is defeated at polls.

    Hope Mills Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell led an attempt to increase the term limits of members of the mayor and Hope Mills Board of Commissioners members from two years to four years. During the November election the effort was soundly defeated by a vote of 2,618 to 1,972. It was a resounding indication that Hope Mills will have higher expectations from its elected officials, a good thing for the future.

    4. Restored Hope Mills dam survives encounters with two hurricanes.

    It wasn’t long after the Hope Mills dam was restored that it faced a couple major tests to its strength. Hurricanes Florence and Michael struck the town, with Florence in particular leading to dangerously record-high water levels in the lake. To her credit, Mayor Jackie Warner made regular visits to the lake during Florence and posted video updates on her Facebook page to keep town citizens apprised of the dam’s status. When the storms were gone, the only major problem reported was damage to the dam’s eel ladder.

    5. Hope Mills approves, then cancels, an agreement with Up & Coming Weekly.


    Up & Coming Weekly newspaper publisher Bill Bowman, working in conjunction with town management and the 2017 Hope Mills Board of Commissioners, endorsed and won the board’s unanimous approval of a $28,000 partnership that created a local Hope Mills newspaper, community awareness and an initiative to showcase, market and promote Hope Mills throughout Cumberland County.

    In spite of the weekly publication’s acceptance and success, the newly elected 2018 board later soured to the idea and voted unanimously to cancel the program in spite of its $225,000 advertising value to the town and its people and businesses.

    6. The restored Hope Mills Lake hosts variety of events.

    It did not take long for the town of Hope Mills to celebrate the return of the new lake. In addition to lake traditions like the Fourth of July celebration, events including Church at the Lake and a jazz festival were held.

    7. Hope Mills dam wins national award.

    A Seattle, Washington, organization that recognizes outstanding work in dam building and architecture presented a national award to the restored Hope Mills dam. Town manager Melissa Adams traveled to Seattle to receive the honor on behalf of the town.

    8. Mayor Pro Tem Mike

    Mitchell and Commissioner Meg Larson lead opposition to Mayor Jackie Warner.

    Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell and newly-elected Commissioner Meg Larson consistently team up to lead a negative coalition of votes against the leadership efforts of Mayor Jackie Warner, including attempts to limit Warner’s authority as the elected leader of the town. They are continually questioning her motives, which was demonstrated clearly when Lone Survivor Foundation attempted to purchase land for a veterans retreat in the town.

    9. Hope Mills Golf Course opened to public despite safety concerns.

    Commissioners vote to open the former Hope Mills Golf Course to town citizens as a walking trail despite multiple reports indicating town residents don’t really desire a new walking trail and evidence that the golf course property is both undeveloped and potentially dangerous if certain areas aren’tmade safer before the public begins using it.

    10. Geese, bacteria create problems at newlyopened lake.

    The newly-opened Hope Mills Lake isn’t without problems initially. Geese have quickly congregated near the lake, and their feces is a likely cause of high bacteria levels when the town has lake water tested. The town temporarily banned swimming in the lake, but allowed it to resume when additional testing indicated the bacteria levels dropped to safe limits. Plansto use border collies to help chase the geese from the lake were briefly considered but eventually rejected.

  • 14 Ashilyn Burgos The new members of the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee for the town of Hope Mills were recently introduced to the town’s Board of Commissioners.

    The new chair of the group is Ashilyn Burgos, a senior at Gray’s Creek High School.

    Melissa Chuy of Jack Britt High School is vicechair, and William Pryor of South View serves as secretary.

    Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the purpose of the youth committee is to get the members involved in town government and leadership so they can understand the roles of elected officials and things taking place in Hope Mills.

    Organizers of the committee also try to involve members in a specific town project. Last year the committee worked on two surveys, one for the town’s multi-modal project and one for the Parks and Recreation department.

    This year the group will focus on the town’s historical district and properties, with a goal of learning as much as they can about the town’s historical homes and buildings and reporting back to the commissioners with their findings.

    When possible, the youth committee members are also encouraged to attend the Hope Mills Citizens Academy for more detailed understanding of how local government works.

    Burgos said she is also active with the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Youth Council, so the work done by the Hope Mills youth committee relates to what she’s already doing there.

    She said she’s been involved with activities like the Hope Mills youth committee since she entered high school. “It’s the kind of career field I want to go into,’’ she said.

    She is looking forward to learning more about the history of Hope Mills in her role with the youth committee because it’s something she hasn’t explored.

    She thinks it’s important for people to understand and be aware of the history of the community where they live. “It makes it more interesting if you know the backstory,’’ she said. “I think this involvement will definitely give me a good footing into what government has to offer and what it involves.’’

    Following are the other members of the new Hope Mills Youth Leadership Committee: Jack Britt High School — Kiara Ramos, Ethan Finney.

    Gray’s Creek High School — Emily Gonzales, Kayla Mady.

    South View High School — Nautia Carter, Morgan Evans.

    Photo: Ashilyn Burgos

  • 13 Melode Dickerson Hope Mills CERT The Hope Mills Community Emergency Response Team is looking to expand its membership into an untapped area of candidates: teenagers.

    CERT is a volunteer organization that works under the oversight of the Cumberland County Emergency Management department.

    Melode Dickerson, manager of Hope Mills CERT, said the organization’s work falls into several different categories.

    Its primary role is in disaster relief following major events like the recent hurricanes.

    “When the hurricane came, we first went out and helped the Red Cross,’’ she said. “We had people working in shelters, closing down shelters, doing damage assessments. We had over 300 hours with the Red Cross.’’

    When there are no disasters, CERT members are out in the community at a variety of events, including helping with parades, traffic control and other charitable activities. “We try to keep everybody busy so they don’t lose interest,’’ she said.

    “We go out and help in the community.’’ There are about 30 adults currently volunteering

    with the Hope Mills CERT team, Dickerson said.

    It was before and after the hurricane that Dickerson began hearing questions about whether or not teenagers could be CERT volunteers.

    That was when she decided to explore starting a separate group of teenage volunteers to work in conjunction with the adult CERT members.

    The plan initially is to have the teenagers operate apart from the adult CERT volunteers, with an eventual goal of possibly working out a change in the bylaws to add the younger members to the adult group.

    Dickerson tentatively plans to limit the age range of the teenagers allowed to volunteer to sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school.

    The CERT training includes instruction in how to stop bleeding in emergency situations. Dickerson sees that as valuable to students who could find themselves in a life-saving situation at school someday.

    “If they don’t learn anything else, they’ll be able to save somebody if they need to,’’ Dickerson said.

    Official recruiting for the teen CERT program will begin in January. Those who are interested can contact the Hope Mills CERT by emailing hopemillscert@gmail.com.

    The Hope Mills Community Emergency Response Team page on Facebook also has a link to a Teen CERT brochure from the Federal Emergency Management Association.

    Photo: Melode Dickerson, manager of Hope Mills CERT

  • 15 Carols review imageTaking us back in time, and yet reminding us very much of our current turbulent ones, “The Carols,” written by Jennifer Childs, transports its audience into a feel-good, nostalgic and wholesome family drama of Christmas and life.

    “The Carols” directed by Robyne Parrish will run at the Gilbert Theater until Dec. 20, bringing a genuine good time filled with many laughs, great songs, a tear in your eye possibly, but also a reminder to enjoy the

    In the war and poverty-stricken setting of a 1940’s Veterans of Foreign War post where gloominess lingers, three sisters — Sylvia, Rose and Lily — shine bright with their optimistic natures.

    Sylvia (played by Molly Hamelin) is determined to make a change in the world and is obsessed with Eleanor Roosevelt. Rose (played by Megan Martinez), dreams of marrying a general and Lily (played by Eden S. Kinsey) holds down the homestead with her charm.

    The first half of the production focuses on the chaotic, hilarious challenges of putting on “A Christmas Carol.” This includes convincing the fascinating Miss Betty (played by Karen Morgan Williams), who runs the VFW, to have the production and find the right cast. Then enters Melvin Shaatz (played by Evan Bridenstine), the Jewish comedian who brings everyone a very Yiddish “Christmas Carol.”

    The themes in the show touch on loss of those at war, the state of poverty in the present, and how everyone is looking forward to the future while enduring the present.

    The actors put on a charming musical with wonderful jokes.

    The second act brings an usual yet entertaining version of “A Christmas Carol” with Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future with hilarious modifications. It brings a smile to everyone’s face.

    The Yiddish punchlines, the 40’s slang, the “bah humbugs” is just what the audience needs — a two-hour escape from the times of COVID-19.

    The talented actors do a great job in reminding everyone, while looking forward so much and focusing on the misfortunes of the past, that we should not forget to live in and enjoy the present, no matter how hard
    things get.

    For those who just need to get away for some light-hearted singing and comedy, "The Carols" is a must watch with its reminder to hold on to right now and cherish it.

    The final weekend of the show is Dec. 18-20. For more information on the play and schedule, visit https://www.gilberttheater.com/season27/thecarols.php

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113. Most meetings take place at Town Hall or the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation center. Until the Parks and Recreation building has been repaired following damage from Hurricane Florence, some meetings may be moved to Luther Meeting Room at Town Hall at regular dates and times. Those meetings are noted with an asterisk below.

    Board of Commissioners Monday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m., Town Hall, Bill Luther Meeting Room

    Festival Committee Monday, Jan. 7, 6 p.m., Town Hall, Front Conference Room

    Lake Advisory Committee Tuesday, Jan. 15, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center*


    For more information on these activities, contact Meghan Hawkins at 910-426-4109.

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237- 1240.

    Town Offices Closed for the Holidays Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 24-26, and Tuesday, Jan. 1.

    Promote yourself 

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 13 01 Paratrooper Santa 2The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to change holiday plans this year, canceling traditional events such as shows, light displays and parades. Although modifications were needed, not even a pandemic could keep soldiers and families on Fort Bragg from continuing some holiday traditions this year.

    The 20-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree is lit up on the Main Post Parade Field for families to view and enjoy, something the installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation department is proud to display.

    “MWR is really big about the soldiers and their families so this tree symbolizes a big part of that and enjoying the spirit of holidays in general and bringing back kind of the family atmosphere to the garrison to celebrate,” said Keegan McDonald, event coordinator for Fort Bragg Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the tree lighting was a virtual event this year, but people can still come to the Main Post Parade Field where the tree will be all holiday season, to look at it and take pictures, he said.

    Fort Bragg’s Trees for Troops event is set to take place at the Smith Lake Recreation Center on Dec. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon.

    The event will give out free Christmas trees — one per family to activity duty personnel in the rank of E-6 and below with a valid DOD ID card and a voucher. Vouchers were handed out at the Leisure Travel Services office.

    Trees will be passed out to non-voucher holders after 10 a.m. based on availability. For more information, soldiers can contact the BOSS office at 910-643-4569 or

    The heart of what the garrison does is take care of soldiers and their families, said James Day, DFMWR’s Outdoor Recreation branch manager.

    “Every year, we host the Trees for Troops event in which Christmas trees are donated to our soldiers,” Day said. “This year 300 trees will be provided to soldiers and families to enjoy during the holiday season. Our single soldiers with the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program will distribute them at the Smith Lake Recreation Area.”

    Some of the other upcoming holiday events at Fort Bragg are the Holiday Concert, All American Presents from Paratroopers and a free meal give-away for paratroopers and their families, said Lt. Col. Mike Burns, Public Affairs Officer for the 82nd Airborne Division.

    The 82nd Band and Chorus Holiday Drive-In Concert will be held on Pike Field Dec. 17, with bands playing a variety of Christmas music. The event is free.

    “Each year we do a holiday concert for our families, this year due to COVID it will be a drive-up event,” Burns said. “We are doing things a little bit different, we are moving to Pike Field … and families will be able to enjoy the concert from the comfort of their own car or a small area around their car, to help prevent the spread of COVID.”

    Pike Field is a large and open area on post that can accommodate vehicles for the concert, Burns said. The concert will be an hour long show and a great opportunity for families to come together and enjoy
    some music.

    “I would say this concert is important to the soldiers here in the Division, it's been a really tough year, a lot of soldiers are deployed, and their families are still here,” Burns said. “It’s important for people to get together and celebrate the holidays and it’s a great time, really fun, and a high quality professional level concert.”

    The members of the 82nd Airborne Association will host a meal give-away for paratroopers and families on Dec. 11, at the All-American Chapel. For more information on times visit www.facebook.com/287901225386/posts/10164689157945387/

    The association is made up of veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division and their families. They come together every year and provide meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas for service members, Burns said.

    All American Presents from Paratroopers is an annual toy drive that gives paratroopers an opportunity to give back to Fort Bragg’s local communities, Burns said.

    “Every year, paratroopers come out and donate a toy for an opportunity to jump from a helicopter and earn foreign jump wings,” he said. “The only requirement is they donate a toy.”

    Events like these are what makes the season special and lets the families know they are a part of the airborne legacy,
    Burns said.

    (Pictured above) The Presents from Paratroopers toy drive is an annual event where soldiers donate toys to participate in an airborne jump to earn foreign jump wings. This year's event saw about 1,500 toys donated for local families in need. (Below) Soldiers help prepare food bags to be donated to families in need. (Photos courtesy 82nd Airborne Division PAO)

    13 02 bragg turkey 2

  • 12 Stockings LaTorria Lyons is taking the giving part of Christmas seriously — so seriously that she involves not only her family but anyone else who wants to get in on it.

    This is the second year of a project she started last Christmas called Lyons Stockings of Love.

    “I wanted my kids to realize how blessed they were and to get a look at life from a different perspective,’’ she said.

    “I told them they had to be a blessing to somebody else. It’s unfortunate we as parents give our kids a whole lot and they really don’t have to work or do anything. We feel we owe our kids so much sometimes. I wanted my kids to get an experience and to see that we have a house to live in (whereas) somebody else may live in a tent.’’

    So, she challenged her children to find a way to spread love to those who don’t experience love on a daily basis.

    “That’s what Jesus would do,’’ Lyons said. “I don’t believe he would be sitting home opening gifts. I think he would be out spreading love. That’s how it started.’’

    Lyons asked her children how they wanted to share love. They elected to identify things that the homeless need on a daily basis and deliver the items to them.

    As a result of that conversation, a year ago, Lyons and her children bought stockings and filled them with a variety of items like soap, deodorant, washcloths, hats and gloves.

    “We put in potato chips and water bottles, things they need that we take for granted,’’ she said. She and her children, along with some friends, stuffed the stockings and delivered them on Christmas Day last year, a total of 50.

    Because of some problems they encountered doing the delivery on Christmas Day, Lyon has decided to make her rounds on Christmas Eve this year.

    Anyone who would like to make a donation or who would like to help stuff the stockings and make deliveries on Christmas Eve can call Lyons at 910-884-8268. The deadline for donations is Friday, Dec. 21.

    The list of items requested for donation this year appears in the photograph accompanying the article.

    While Lyons lives in Hope Mills, she doesn’t limit the reach of her goodwill to the Hope Mills community.

    One of the first places she visited last year was the Person Street Bridge in Fayetteville, a place where some homeless people seek shelter.

    “That was humbling for my kids,’’ she said. “They had never experienced anything like that. We take for granted sleeping in a bed.

    “Let’s just spread love. The whole project is giving love.’’

  • 12 Village 5The typical hustle and bustle of the holiday season is muted this year. Family plans and holiday outings have crumbled due to the pandemic. Despite it all, The Village Baptist Church invites the people of Cumberland County to experience the joy of Christmas through a social-distancing-friendly drive-thru event Dec. 11-13.

    Chris Ferger, the Pastor of Worship and Arts at The Village, said that the church’s Easter production was cancelled due to COVID-19, so he was looking for opportunities to still celebrate the Christmas holiday.

    “I thought the best way to allow people to see and experience the story of Christmas in a safe, COVID-free environment is to have a drive-thru Christmas,” he explained.
    “I used to do something similar years ago for Easter and I just thought it would be a great idea. So, we put together a team that could pull it off.”

    Organizing a Christmas drive-thru event is no easy feat, but with the help of hundreds of volunteers since April participating in musical recordings, set design, acting, guiding traffic, hospitality, advertising, animal management and more, The Village anticipates an unforgettable experience.

    Keeping in line with the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines and local ordinances and mandates, The Village Choir and orchestra has rehearsed virtually and in venues that allow for social distancing to prepare the recorded music for the event. The music and drama will be available through the Village Baptist Church App or with a CD available as you enter.

    “(Attendees) will be immersed in eight scenes that retell the Christmas story through the eyes of a young shepherd all while listening to music recorded by The Village Choir and Orchestra,” Ferger said.

    Attendees can expect to see live actors and animals, hear Christmas tunes and narration, and experience the anticipation of Christ’s birth with period-accurate clothing and carefully crafted sets. Don’t be shy about taking pictures and videos. The Village would love to see your pictures on social media with the hashtag #ChristmasatTheVillage.

    In a year that has divided so many people both physically and ideologically, The Village uses their love of Jesus to unify the community. “Our community desires the joy and peace that only the true story of Christmas can bring now more than ever,” Ferger said. “People are tired of being cooped up in their homes and are ready to go somewhere that will help them feel the joy of the season. We want people to feel safe as they bring their family.”

    The Christmas Drive Thru at The Village will take place at 906 S. McPherson Church Rd. and will run from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 11-13. The event is free.

    Travelling through all of the scenes will take approximately 20 minutes. Cars, people movers and vans are welcome, but no bicycles, pedestrians or buses will be permitted for the safety of the actors.

    For more information about The Village visit https://thevillagebc.church/

  • 14decoration 1 It’s a labor of love in late November and early December every year for families everywhere to put up the decorations of the Christmas season in their homes.

    But imagine the same challenge on a larger scale, like decorating an entire town. That’s what Maxey Dove and people in the Hope Mills Recreation and Parks Department have to deal with in decking the streets and buildings of the town with the trappings of the Christmas season.

    “It’s a lot of stuff,’’ Dove said of the assorted decorations that the town puts up for Christmas every year.

    It also covers a lot of territory. “We have banners on Main Street, Trade Street and Johnson Street,’’ Dove said. “We decorate the marquee and the gazebo at the lake.’’ There’s also a manger scene that used to be at the lake but has been moved to the municipal complex at Town Hall this year.

    The task of putting up the decorations goes on for multiple days and involves both maintenance staff of the parks and recreation department as well as members of the town’s Appearance Committee.

    There are two Christmas trees, both artificial, one at the lake and one at the municipal complex on Rockfish Road.

    “They are huge,’’ Dove said. Both trees stand about 20 to 22 feet tall. “They have big metal frames. I think the new one has LED lights. They are both pretty big productions.’’

    The banners and many of the other Christmas decorations around town are put in place with the help of a bucket truck from a local electrical contracting firm.

    How long do Christmas decoration last? Dove said it varies depending on the type of decorations. He estimates the two Christmas trees will probably be good for about 10 years. Wreaths usually last longer than the Christmas banners.

    “Usually, every few years we rotate new stuff in and new stuff out,’’ he said.

    As far as the choice of the style of decorations, that’s handled largely by the Appearance Committee, but Dove said they also get many suggestions from people in the town from time to time.

    “There are a lot of opinions,’’ Dove said. “We are always looking to do bigger, better and nicer. But at the same time, you have to keep in the back of your mind this is Hope Mills and there’s a certain way Hope Mills does things. Sometimes you’ve got to balance the two.’’

    The bottom line, Dove said, is many people have fond Christmas memories of Hope Mills.

    “We have several opportunities for families to come out and something for everybody to enjoy,’’ Dove said. “It just kind of gets everybody into the season.

    “Seeing the community come together and celebrate the holiday and family is one of the benefits of a small town. People take pride in it, and our volunteers are outstanding. Our Appearance Committee really helps out a lot.’’

  • 13 Santa checking listBreak out those stockings, Christmas trees, and red or green masks — it’s time to enjoy a fun, festive and socially distanced holiday season with a visit to meet Santa. That’s right, Santa Claus is planning his trip down from the North Pole to see his friends in Fayetteville, though it will look a little different from years past.

    Santa and his elves have already set up in the Food Court of Cross Creek Mall and will be there through Christmas Eve. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, visits will be no-contact, with families sitting six feet away to ensure proper social distancing. But don’t worry about those Christmas lists. Santa Claus can’t wait to hear what’s on your list and will still be available to talk with little elves-in-training.

    Santa will be available for photos during the following days and times:
    Monday — Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    Christmas Eve hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    All guests must schedule their visit with Santa using the online reservation platform at https://whereissanta.com/northcarolina/crosscreekmall. You’ll select a date and time, as well as purchase your photo package. Walk-ups will be allowed during the first and last hour of the day, time permitting. All visitors must wear masks before, during and after photos.

    Visitors are reminded that some of the usual holiday events are canceled for this year, including pet photos.

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113. Until the Parks and Recreation building has been repaired following damage from Hurricane Florence, some meetings may be moved to Luther Meeting Room at Town Hall at regular dates and times. Those meetings are noted with an asterisk below.

    Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday, Dec. 12, 5 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building*

    Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee Monday, Dec. 17, 6 p.m., Front Lobby Meeting Room at Town Hall

    Board of Commissioners Monday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m., Bill Luther Meeting Room at Town Hall


    For more information on these activities, contact Meghan Hawkins at 910-426-4109.

    Breakfast with Santa Saturday, Dec. 15, 8:30 a.m., at Hope Mills Fire Station.

    Town Offices Closed for the Holidays Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 24-26, and Tuesday, Jan. 1.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 10 lake rim parkFayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation offers a variety of locations to enjoy the great outdoors. There are a number of activities schedueld for the month of December.

    Archery Clinic — Dec. 5, noon to 3 p.m., $5, Ages 8+
    This class is designed to introduce the sport of archery to beginners. Participants will use compound bows as they learn the basics of archery to include safety, proper stance and follow through. Adults are welcome too. Registration is ongoing, but space is limited.

    Mazarick Park Kayak Tour —Dec. 5, 10 to 11:30 a.m., $15, Adults and ages 10+
    Explore the cypress filled waters of Glenville Lake at Mazarick Park from a kayak. All the equipment and basic instruction for beginners will be provided. This program is offered with special permission from PWC, no private boats are allowed on the lake. Registration is ongoing, but space is limited. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

    Clay Play — Dec. 11; 3 to 4 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
    Mold it, shape it, create something useful, or just get your hands dirty. Join us for clay play at the park to see what you can fashion out of this moldable, malleable substance. Call to register, space is limited.

    Meteor Shower Viewing — Dec. 13; 8 to 10 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
    Learn about asteroids, meteorites and comets then head outside to view the Geminids, one of the most impressive meteor showers of the year. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and dress for the weather. This program occurs after park operating hours, please arrive promptly at 8 p.m. so staff can let you in the gate. Call to register, space is limited.

    Christmas Scavenger Hunt — Dec. 22, 2 to 4 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
    Drop by the park office anytime between 2 and 4 p.m. to pick up a map and loaner compass that will guide you to the lost Christmas presents. Once you have completed the course, return to the office to claim your prize. Call to register beginning Dec. 7.

    Year’s End Walk —Dec. 31, 2 to 3 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
    Bid farewell to 2020 on this interpretive walk around Lake Rim Park. Get a jump start on two great New Year’s resolutions: to spend more time in nature and to continue learning about the world around you. Call to register beginning Dec. 14, space is limited.

    All facilities are open to the public on a first come, first serve basis unless they are reserved.

    Contact the park office ar 910-433-1018 to reserve facilities or register for activities. Office hours are Mon. — Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Visit www.fcpr.us/parks for more information.

  • 13German market

    EDIT: Due to concerns over the rain forecast on Saturday, Dec. 15, the location has changed to the original Dirtbag Ales at 3623 Legion Road in Hope Mills. Please visit the Hayat Yoga Shala page on Facebook for further details. 

     Hayat Hakim has lived in the Fayetteville-Hope Mills area for the past 10 years, but she still has fond memories of the first 20 years of her life spent growing up in Bonn, Germany.

    “I was raised going to the German Christmas market every year with my family,’’ Hakim said. “We basically celebrated by going with the entire family. The memories the entire time I was raised in Germany brought such a familiar feeling of community with me.’’

    Hakim, who operates Hayat Yoga Shala on Raeford Road, tried to bring the German Christmas market experience on a smaller scale to the students at her yoga studio four years ago.

    This year, with the help of Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom, Hakim is putting together a much larger scale event that will be held at Dirtbag’s new brewery at 5435 Corporation Dr. in the Gray’s Creek community. The market is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

    “Every year at this time, I miss home very much,’’ Hakim said. For some time, she’s been exploring what could be done to bring a little bit of the German Christmas market feel to this community, which she described as versatile and diverse in cultural aspects.

    “I realized how much people wanted that experience in their lives; soldiers stationed in Germany, German spouses who came over here with their families,” she said. “They all just miss it. That’s why we are trying to recreate that good feel.’’

    An obvious feature of the German Christmas market will be multiple food and drink options. In addition to German-style beer, Hakim plans to offer “glühwein,” a German-Austrian after-ski drink.

    “It’s a warmer, sweeter red wine,’’ Hakim said. “It has different ingredients like orange and cinnamon and a homemade recipe of sweetness.’’ She described it as having a Christmas feeling that warms the whole body.

    Pastries are also a big part of the German Christmas market experience. A local catering service will be on hand to provide “lebkuchenherzen,” which are gingerbread hearts.

    A German food truck will be at the market, and an authentic German café will be recreated to offer dishes familiar to the German community.

    German potato salad will be available, along with assorted types of coffee popular to the German community.

    In addition to the food offerings, Hakim has commitments from up to 30 vendors for the German Christmas market with a goal of landing as many as 40.

    “We have a lot of handcrafted vendors,’’ she said, “from artists to unique jewelry makers.’’

    One artist scheduled to appear makes glass ornaments by hand and will be hand-painting them during the market.

    There will also be local farmers on hand with displays of produce.

    The market will also have a dog park for those who want to bring their pets, as well as a playground for children.

    While some of the vendors will accept credit cards, Hakim suggests people planning to make purchases at the market be prepared to bring cash with them.

    The event will be held outdoors so Hakim advises patrons to be prepared to dress for whatever weather may develop.

    For further information about the Christmas market, including details on specific vendors, visit the Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom or the German Christmas Market pages on Facebook.

    Photo: Left to right: Dirtbag Ales staff Nick Demetris, Hope Demetris and Elizabeth Brogan; Hayat Hakim; and Dirtbag Ales co-owner Vernardo Simmons-Valenzuela.

  • 12-08-10-disney.gifTake the timeless enchantment of your favorite Disney characters, combine it with awe-inspiring acts of professional illusionists, and you’ve entered the delightful realm of Disney Live! presents Mickey’s Magic Show. Young and old are invited to “Come be part of the magic!” on Friday, Dec.10, for two shows at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the Crown Coliseum.

    Mickey’s Magic Show is what I like to consider an adventure into a world where anything is possible,” said Brad Ross, illusionist and host of the show. Ross recently received the International Magicians Society Merlin Award for Best International Family Entertainer 2010, considered the Oscar for the magic industry. He shares the stage with Master Magician Mickey Mouse.

    “It’s an opportunity for folks to come out and experience the Disney Magic in a whole new way. This is the fi rst time that Disney has ever created a Disney magic show. It combines the classic magic from the movies that kids and their parents will recognize. We have the dancing brooms from Fantasia, the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and movies like that, but the unique thing about the show is that it will bond real magic tricks and illusions with those scenes from those movies, and that’s coupled with the world-class illusions that I’ll be presenting, and again, it’s going to give folks a whole new way to experience the Disney Magic.”

    First launched in 2006, the show involved tremendous time and preparation, bringing together key elements like lighting designers, choreographers, directors, illusion consultants and more for rehearsals.

    “The preparation involved many, many months ahead of that in terms of the production team getting together12-08-10-disney-live.gif to create the show, cast the show, design the costumes and sets, the magic, of course, so it is quite a lengthy process to create a show like this,” Ross said. “But the show is now in its fi fth consecutive year. We’ve been privileged to take this show all over the world, and it’s just been a wonderful experience.”

    Ross’s primary role is the master illusionist, and through that role, he hosts the show, portraying the “big brother” to all the kids in the audience.

    “I am the tour guide, let’s say, to guide everyone on this journey into magic. Throughout that process, I’m constantly interacting with the audience. I run dialogue with them throughout the entire show, and I also bring kids up on stage to participate in the magic and help me out with some of these illusions. And of course I’m performing the magic alongside Mickey and Goofy and all the Disney characters because everyone is actually doing magic in this show, which creates a unique experience.”

    Audience members can expect to see many familiar Disney characters on stage, including Donald Duck and Alice, as well as the re-creation of favorite movie scenes, like the transformation of Cinderella’s rags into a beautiful ball gown by her Fairy Godmother, right before their very eyes. Ross, who became intrigued by magic at a very young age when his mother hired a magician for his fi fth birthday party, notes a particularly special illusion in Mickey’s Magic Show.

    “One of my favorite illusions in the show is when I levitate Princess Jasmine from the movie Aladdin. It’s a beautiful illusion. It’s just breathtaking, and it’s defi nitely a crowd pleaser wherever we travel with the show, no matter what country we’re in, no matter what language we’re performing the show in. Everyone needs to come out to the show to experience the magic.”

    Great seats for Disney Live! presents Mickey’s Magic Show are still available, according to Rik Knopp, director of Marketing and Sales at the Crown Center. Tickets range from $17 to $37, plus fees. For information or to purchase tickets, call (910) 438-4100 or visit www.crowncoliseum.com.

  • 01 02 in the park 2

    Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some featured activities may change or be canceled. Please check to ensure the event will be held as scheduled.

    Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now the holiday season is officially here. Christmas trees, holiday lights and decorations abound around every corner. But what is there to do? Lots, if one knows where to look. So, grab the keys, get in the car and see the sights.

    Ready to see some lights? Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation is proud to announce a COVID-19-safe Christmas in the Park event this season. The holiday lights extravaganza is coming to Arnette Park, 2165 Wilmington Highway Dec. 6-10, 13-17 and 20-22, 6-9 p.m. nightly excluding Fridays and Saturdays. Participants are asked to remain in their vehicles to drive-thru the park to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas. Admission is free for the event. Visit www.fcpr.us.

    Each year, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden features Holiday Lights in the Garden, a self-paced holiday lights garden tour through a beautiful garden setting. The lights are featured on weekends Dec. 3-23 from 6-9 p.m. nightly. The whole garden will be lit with lights and transformed into a winter wonderland, featuring Santa Claus, s’mores, entertainment and more. Additionally, CFBG keeps a full calendar of daytime offerings for kids so parents can bring their children for outdoor activities and education. Be sure to check out the new children's garden and learn about plants and animals while spending a day together in nature. Find out more details at www.capefearbg.org.

    Another traditional drive-thru favorite is the Lu-Mil Winery Festival of Lights at 438 Suggs-Taylor Rd. in Elizabethtown, just south of Fayetteville. For $10 per person, you can see miles of beautiful lights amid outdoor scenery. The event will be 6-10 p.m. nightly Dec. 17-23 and Dec. 26-28. For more information visit https://lumilvineyard.com

    For onstage holiday entertainment, the Gilbert Theater presents "The Carols," a witty musical telling the Carol sisters' story as they struggle to get the town's annual performance of "A Christmas Carol" off the ground. The men are off fighting in the war, but the show must go on! Performances are Nov. 27-29 and Dec. 4-6 and 18-20. Go to https://gilberttheater.com/ to get the scoop.

    The Cape Fear Regional Theatre's famous "Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will not be produced this year, but be sure to check out the theater’s new winter camp for ages 8-14, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Go to https://www.cfrt.org/ for more information.

    The Rotary Club Annual Christmas Parade scheduled for Dec.12 has been canceled. Not to dampen the holiday season, the Rotary Clubs of Fayetteville are organizing another thrilling event to replace the parade. The members have decided to take Santa on a tour throughout select neighborhoods because, “if the kids can’t see Santa in the parade, why not take Santa to them?” This will hopefully soften the disappointment from the canceled parade.

    Following a melted snowman cocoa from The Coffee Cup downtown, make your way to the 1897 Poe House for a historical take on the holidays. The 1897 Poe House will be decorated for Christmas through Jan. 9, 2021. Learn more at www.capefear.ncdcr.gov.

    For out-of-town fun, enjoy holiday events a short sleigh ride away over in Lee or Moore counties. The Temple Theater in Sanford is performing the holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 3-20. The ghostly visits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come transform the curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge from greedy and selfish to sympathetic and caring. The classic tale weaves a story showing viewers the importance of kindness and generosity in the true spirit of Christmas. See www.templeshows.com. Lace-up those running shoes, grab some antlers and get ready for Moore County's 14th Annual Reindeer Fun Run Dec. 1-14 this year a virtual event. Register and complete your race at any time during this period. Go to https://reindeerfunrun.com/ for a few pedestrian-friendly course suggestions.

    No matter the day, Fayetteville and the surrounding area have many holiday activities for families and singles. Now is the time to start planning the festivities.

    This article also appears in the December issue of Womens View magazine.

    01 01 Photo 2

    01 03 Lu Mil lights









    Pictured:(Left) Christmas light displays are being modified to comply with COVID-19 restrictions for mask wearing and social distancing. Visitors will remain in their vehicles as they drive through the Christmas in the Park light display at Arnette Park. (Right) There are light displays in Fayetteville and in surrounding areas like this one at Lu-Mil Winery in Elizabethtown.

  • 12blevins Dec. 3, the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners voted to approve a plan for Phase II of the lakebed project. The engineering firm, Fleming & Associates, has been presenting revised site plans to this board for a year, at a cost of $50,000.

    Monday, Dec. 3, the board was told federal regulations have changed since August, when they last discussed the project, and now require municipalities to be fully Americans with Disabilities Act accessible. The board voted to approve the plan with two changes: adding an additional ramp for wheelchair access and adding stairs with handrails to the swim area.

    The board initially voted to approve a site plan in July of 2017. Several weeks later they agreed to a $36,000 contract with Fleming & Associates, who would draw the site plan. It’s not clear why this board chose to reject the previous plan or spend an additional $14,000 on site plan revisions. But this newly approved site plan already has an issue. Board members were told Fleming & Associates took issue with some undisclosed aspect and they’re being asked to meet at the lake so they can personally see the problem.

    In November, when Commissioner Meg Larson proposed converting the old golf course property into a walking trail, Commissioner Pat Edwards cautioned the board to finish existing projects, like Phase II of the lake, before beginning new ones. The board voted to move forward with Larson’s idea.

    Anonymous sources have confirmed there’s no money earmarked to complete Phase II of the lakebed project, but the board has committed to funding the walking trail by April 2019. Early estimates indicate that project could cost the taxpayers as much as $150,000.

    After the board moved swiftly to approve a walking trail on the golf course, several new issues came to light. Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell agreed to pay as much as $50,000 for a turn lane on Golfview Road to accommodate visitors to the trail, but the North Carolina Department of Transportation has plans to widen the road within the next three years to accommodate traffic coming from the 295 exits. Any changes made to Golfview Road will be removed to accommodate the additional lanes, which means any money spent on those changes will be wasted.

    There’s also a growing safety concern. In mid- November a man was shot in Ed Herring park in the Eaglewood Community of Hope Mills. The shooting occurred during daylight hours. Hope Mills Police Chief Joel Acciardo said Hope Mills Police Department was aware of a growing concern in the neighborhood. He also indicated the crime rates in that park were insignificant compared to the rates in Municipal Park.

    The board voted to add benches and trash cans to the walking trail on the golf course but not lights. Signs will be posted informing visitors the park is open from sunrise to sunset. Municipal Park is also open sunrise to sunset. It hasn’t prevented people from entering the park after hours or from committing crimes in the park.

    Only a small portion of the new walking trail will be visible during daylight hours, and none of it, nor the parking lot, will be visible after sunset. While Municipal park is in the heart of Hope Mills and surrounded by residential and commercial areas, the golf course is bordered by acres of trees and shrubs. The wooded areas, especially near the creek, have been used by the vagrant community for years. Several years ago, an arsonist was using the wooded area around the golf course to move around unseen after starting fires on the golf course.

    It’s also worth noting that town manager Melissa Adams advised the board she’d been in contact with the McAdams Group and a representative is coming to Hope Mills Dec. 10 to discuss the proposed walking trail.

    The board has commissioned McAdams Group to conduct an $87,000 survey of Hope Mills assets. The study began with a survey of Hope Mills residents to determine what recreational amenities they want the town to develop. A walking trail was not a priority for the residents, and it may have conflicted with what the experts were planning to suggest for that land.

    Larson altered the results of the study when she insisted McAdams Group include a 20-year-old PWC water survey indicating lakebed #2 was necessary for a future water reservoir. PWC has denounced that survey and declared it’s outdated. Now the board is altering the results again by dictating to the experts what they’re planning to develop on that land.

    Why spend money on an expert survey if you’re going to alter the validity with outdated documents and develop the land in ways that preclude developing what the citizens want?

    It’s clear this board’s members are struggling to find their footing. They’re wasting valuable time on highly anticipated projects while rushing ill- conceived projects. And they’ve proven to be horrible stewards of our tax money.

    Ironically, during the December meeting, this board also voted not to allow recall elections. So, while we’re aware of their incompetence, we have no recourse.

  • 12-15-10breakfast-with-santa.gif

    With Christmas right around the corner, it seems safe to assume that many ayoung mind is focused on Santa Claus and what goodies he may be bringing onDec. 25. Everyone is on their best behavior, minding their manners and helpfulas ever, building their case for a spot on the “Nice” list.

    On Saturday, Dec. 18, Fascinate-UChildren’s Museum is hostingBreakfast With Santa Claus. It’s onemore chance to share the magic of theseason with your favorite little one. It isa tradition that the museum has been apart of for the past eight or nine years,according to Fascinate-U Children’sMuseum Marketing and DevelopmentDirector Emily Polley, and somethingthat local children look forward to withanticipation. An opportunity to scoresome face time with Santa doesn’tcome around all that often, after all.

    “There are several families inthe community that have made this afamily tradition,” said Polley. “Theystart when their children are just babiesand come. Mom and Dad eat breakfastwith Santa and they have a family picture made. It is really adorable.”

    Other families come and bring Grandma and Grandpa with them and makeit a special day for more than just mom and dad and junior. Families are seatedtogether and can enjoy the menu of eggs, bacon, sausage and a full pancake barthat includes toppings like gummy bears, sprinkles and whipped cream. This alltakes place upstairs in the Gilbert Theater, which is decked out in holiday stylefor their production of A Christmas Carol, adding to the feeling of Christmascheer.

    Breakfast is served between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., which gives everyone anhour to come in and take their time eating. After fi lling their tummies, the littleones get to have their picture taken with Santa.

    “It is so sweet to see the toddlers come in all dressed up in their argylesweaters and fancy little dresses,”said Polley. “They are so cute and soexcited to see Santa that some of themare literally shaking with anticipation.Seeing their excitement really is myfavorite part of this event.”

    Every year a craft is included inthe price of the ticket. Of course it isdifferent every time, and Polley saysthat this year the theme is mittens.Stay and play in the museumafterwards and burn off that yummybreakfast.

    “We’ll stay until everyone haseaten, every picture with Santa hasbeen taken and every craft has beencompleted,” Polley said. “We want tomake this event as special as possiblefor the little ones.”

    Polley noted that the museum is open to the public at 10 a.m., just like anyother Saturday.Reservations are required and they fi ll up fast. It costs $10for members and $12 for nonmembers.

    To make a reservationor for more info, call Fascinate-U Children’s Museum at 829-9171 or visit ww.fascinate-u.com/events.php.

  • 11Highland Baptist Singing Christmas Tree The annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ through the presentation of the Singing Christmas Tree at Highland Baptist Church in Hope Mills will have a dual meaning this season. This year’s performance is scheduled for Dec. 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. each evening.

    The choir members, and the congregation as well, will celebrate the memory and ministry of their late choir director, Nancy Brady, who died last May after a second battle with cancer.

    It is fitting that Dawn Seegars, a pupil of Brady’s years ago at Hope Mills Junior High School, who later sang under her direction at Highland Baptist, is taking time from her regular job of leading the music ministry at Temple Baptist Church in Eastover to lead the Singing Christmas Tree at Highland. This will be the first Singing Christmas Tree since Brady died.

    “She was my junior high chorus teacher at Hope Mills,’’ Seegars said, “and I was a member at Highland under her ministry.”

    Seegars said Brady had a way of making anyone who wanted to be a part of the music ministry at Highland feel welcome, whether they had any background in music or not.

    Brady was in poor health last year when the Singing Christmas Tree practices began, and Seegars was actually on standby to come in at the last minute if Brady wasn’t able to lead the choir.

    When Brady died earlier this year, Seegars said church members reached out to her and asked if she would be able to direct the choir this Christmas season. “I have a large group of friends at Highland,’’ Seegars said. “I love the people at that church. They are precious, sweet people. I’ve always kept in touch, especially with Nancy, trying to help her.’’

    Rehearsals have been a challenge for Seegars, dividing time between her full-time job as a nurse at a local gastrointestinal practice and her regular duties with the music ministry at Temple Baptist.

    “The choir has been fantastic,’’ she said of the people at Highland. “They have worked so hard on their own, and we’ve had lengthy practices instead of multiple practices.’’

    Brady traditionally picked the music for the Singing Christmas Tree each year, mixing traditional tunes with contemporary selections. Seegars has tried to follow in that tradition but insisted on getting input from the Highland singers. “I don’t mind being a leader and helping with the music, but I felt like — and some of the people I spoke with felt like — we really needed everybody to come together and say, yes, we wanted to do this,’’ Seegars said.

    The biggest challenge for Seegars was dealing with her personal emotions and those of the choir members as rehearsals began, being exposed to tangible memories of Brady’s presence and influence on the church’s music.

    “It was a hurting place,’’ Seegars said. “To walk in the choir room and to sit at the piano where she played parts for all of us to learn choir music from for so many years. To see the notes she had written: The last few practices where they took prayer requests, and it’s sitting there in her handwriting.

    “It’s all been quite an emotional journey.’’ The same is true for longtime choir members like Dede Mabe, who has been around since Highland started the Singing Christmas Tree in the mid-1980s.

    “Nancy was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known,’’ Mabe said of Brady. The Singing Christmas Tree wasn’t a performance of music for Brady, Mabe said. It was a ministry, the biggest outreach that the church does. “It takes about 100 people to put it all together,’’ Mabe said. “It’s an outreach because you are telling the story of Jesus Christ being born. You are just spreading the word.’’

    For Mabe, the most powerful memories of Brady leading the singing of the Singing Christmas Tree every year are yet to come. They will happen during the actual presentation.

    When the singers were actually in place, Brady would stand in the back of the church on a scaffold, out of view of the congregation.

    Brady wore oversized Mickey Mouse hands that glowed in the dark while directing. “Sometimes she would do little things to make us smile,’’ Mabe said. “She would clap or give you a thumbs-up. If she was really feeling the spirit, she’d throw her hands up in the air, praising the Lord. I’ll miss seeing that.’’

    Highland’s pastor, Rev. Zach Kennedy, agreed with Mabe that for Brady, the Singing Christmas Tree was a ministry of the church, not a mere performance of music.

    “She wanted people to understand what Christmas was really about,’’ he said. “She wanted them to understand God literally sent his son to become a man. Christmas is all about the beginning of how all people can be saved and brought to aright relationship with God.’’

    Kennedy said the Singing Christmas Tree gives the church an opportunity to connect with people who might not come to a regular Sunday morning worship service.

    He said the perfect tribute to Brady at this year’s Singing Christmas Tree would be for even one person to attend the event and come to a real relationship with Jesus.

    “That’s exactly what Nancy would want and what every one of us should want out of that,’’ he said.

    Seating for the Singing Christmas Tree is on a first come, first served basis, and there is no charge. The church has a food pantry and is partnering with the Balm In Gilead Family Counseling Ministries to accept donations of non-perishable food, clothing and hygiene items.

    For more information on making donations or on the event, contact the church during regular business hours at 910-425-5305.

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113. Until the Parks and Recreation building has been repaired following damage from Hurricane Florence, some meetings may be moved to Luther Meeting Room at Town Hall at regular dates and times. Those meetings are noted with an asterisk below.

    Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday, Dec. 12, 5 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building*

    Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee Monday, Dec. 17, 6 p.m., Front Lobby Meeting Room at Town Hall

    Board of Commissioners Monday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m., Bill Luther Meeting Room at Town Hall


    For more information on these activities, contact Meghan Hawkins at 910-426-4109.

    Breakfast with Santa Saturday, Dec. 15, 8:30 a.m., at Hope Mills Fire Station.

    Town Offices Closed for the Holidays Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 24-26.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 10Bfast with Santa There will be plenty of the familiar red coloring on the premises, but the traditional Breakfast with Santa gathering in Hope Mills this year is moving to a different location.

    Instead of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center, children and their families will be gathering at the Hope Mills Fire Station on Rockfish Road on Saturday, Dec. 15, for the annual pre-Christmas breakfast and social time with Santa Claus. The event is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. and wrap up around 11 a.m.

    Breakfast with Santa has been a Hope Mills tradition for about 10 years said, Meghan Hawkins of the recreation department.

    It had to be relocated to the fire station this year because the recreation department building is still undergoing repairs from damage sustained from Hurricane Florence this fall.

    There are a limited number of tickets available for the breakfast, so anyone interested needs to contact the recreation department as soon as possible to purchase one. Children under the age of 3 will be admitted free but will still require a ticket to gain admission. All tickets are $6 per person and can be purchased at Town Hall, which is located at 5770 Rockfish Rd.

    The deadline for getting tickets is Monday, Dec. 10, which is the date the town has to notify the caterer how many to prepare breakfast for.

    Since the fire station will be open for business as usual during Breakfast with Santa, some or all activities related to the breakfast may have to undergo changes if there are active fire calls while breakfast is taking place.

    No parking will be allowed in front of the fire station, Hawkins said. All those attending should park behind Hope Mills Town Hall and the Parks and Recreation Center building.

    Barring any complications, children will get a chance to eat with Santa, interact with him and take pictures. Members of the South View Key Club will be on hand working as elves helping serve breakfast, with an assist from the firefighters at the station.

    The breakfast menu will include eggs, pancakes and juice with a choice of bacon or sausage.

    For information on the breakfast, including getting tickets, contact Hawkins at 910-426-4109 during regular business hours.

  • 09larson golf course “It would give the citizens another place to walk during the day other than Municipal Park,” Commissioner Meg Larson said.

    During the Nov. 5 Hope Mills Board of Commissioners meeting,Larson suggested the town reopen the golf course, which has been closed to the public since spring 2014, for use as land for walking trails.

    Larson was among the handful of people who toured the golf course in October. Hurricanes and years of neglect have destroyed portions of the course. One specific area, adjacent to Golfview Road, has completely washed away. The paved walking path is gone, and there’s a hole 15 feet deep and nearly 30 feet wide. Utility wires and cables protrude on both sides of the hole. That area would have to be repaired before the public could access the trails.

    Additionally, there is no driveway or parking available, and the owner of the existing parking lot refuses to consider leasing his land to the municipality. Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell suggested the board spend $50,000 to install a turn lane on Golfview Road and negotiate with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to create a new driveway and parking lot, both at additional costs.

    One local contractor with more than $120 million dollars of contract experience, who requested anonymity, indicated that, in addition to the $50,000 turn lane, a driveway and parking lot would cost $30,000, and repairing the erosion damage could cost another $20,000. These are conservative estimates. This does not include mobilization costs, proof rolling, new signage, insurance, benches and trashcans Larson wants, and new maintenance costs. And, the town already spends $25,000 a year to maintain the lot.

    Less than a half mile from this proposed walking trail, Municipal Park has a designated walking path. It’s never crowded, it’s clean, and it has ample parking, benches, lights and access to other amenities. And it’s paid for.

    Larson’s plan may also conflict with the $87,000 comprehensive parks and recreation plan commissioned by the board. McAdams Group has been working on that plan for months, and the board expects the results in early spring, around the same time they plan to reopen the golf course.

    Commissioners Jesse Bellflowers said Larson’s idea was premature, and he urged the board to wait for direction from McAdams before making a commitment.

    Larson and Mitchell cited the impending McAdams Group survey as a reason to deny a request to buy municipal land from Lone Survivor Foundation earlier this year. On multiple occasions, they referenced the survey and the importance of not making premature decisions that may later conflict with the recommendations of that survey.

    Commissioner Pat Edwards reminded the board of the many projects that need to be finished. The previous board voted last year to approve the second phase of the lake plan, but this board has consistently voted to change that plan. The engineer provided the board with multiple draft changes, but the board has not committed to anything. We’re no closer to a historical park and museum than we were a year ago.

    Hope Mills residents have not expressed an interest in additional walking paths. The McAdams Group survey indicated residents wanted a pool/ splash pad, outdoor amphitheater, multipurpose fields, pump track (off-road terrain for cycle sports) and green-way trails.

    In April 2019, the board will receive the final golf course conceptual site plan and draft recommendation. These are prerequisites for applying for grant funding to develop the golf course.

    What happens if their concept and draft recommendation conflicts with the newly developed walking trails? Will the board move to undo everything the taxpayers have just paid for, to accommodate the McAdams Group recommendations?

    Or, will the walking trail be another reason for the board to condemn McAdams Group and reject the proposal? Commissioners Jerry Legge and Larson have been very vocal in expressing their disappointment in McAdams Group’s early results.

    Despite the warnings and the lack of public interest in additional walking trails, the board voted to move forward with Larson’s plan. This same board voted to delay replacing the failing phone system and to delay purchasing a security system for Town Hall, proving our systemic problems always take a backseat to the board’s private agendas.

    It’s also worth noting that two board members have already cautioned they will likely have to raise taxes for fiscal year 2019. The board barely managed to stay in budget for this year. And, in addition to raising their own salaries and implementing travel stipends and cell phone stipends, they’ll have to finance the new walking trail — which, like the existing walking trail, will not generate revenue to offset its costs.

    What’s clear is that Larson continues to flounder. For nearly four months, she referenced the McAdams Group survey, declaring its importance above all else.

    She voted twice to deny selling lake bed #2 to Lone Survivor Foundation based on the premise that every inch of municipal land was being evaluated by McAdams Group for development. Now, when LSF is no longer an issue, she’s ready to abandon the $87,000 expert opinion we paid for.

  •     At the outset of 2008, the newly elected Fayetteville City Council signed the Fayetteville Forward Pledge. The idea behind the pledge was multifaceted. It was designed to establish a way for the city council to do business, but also to show city residents they were serious about tackling tough issues.
        During the first 100 days, the council tackled a number of issues and in doing so, changed the way many in the community looked at local government. Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne sees that change as one of many important changes that happened in the city over the course of 2008. Chavonne said that much of what was accomplished by the city during the year wasn’t high profile, but was important nonetheless.
        Chavonne explained that 2008 could be looked at as the “product development stage” for the city. “We know we have a lot of opportunities facing us, and in 2008, we did the things we had to do to get us ready for those opportunities,” he said.
        {mosimage}For Chavonne, many of the projects tackled by the city during this “product development stage” came from an article he read on a blog. “I carry this article in my wallet. It was written by a military spouse who had lived in Fayetteville, and was facing the opportunity of coming back. She wrote that she would never come back here until the city was a more attractive, more peaceful city. That really struck me. All the things we’ve done over this past year — implementing a recycling program, improving our transit system, tearing down 100 dilapidated buildings, raising development standards — have all been a part of the effort to improve the product... What we are as a community.”
        Chavonne said it is important not to lose sight of the fact that these projects are not just window dressing designed to attract people to the community, but rather they are designed to make the city more attractive, cleaner and more peaceful for everyone who lives in the community.
        Some of the not so sexy but important projects tackled by the city in 2008 include the finalization of funding for the $215 sewer extension without a tax increase or PWC rate increase; the establishment of a municipal influence area to control growth and establish standards for it, which will keep the city from having to retrofit in the future.
        “We can’t just accept growth, we have to grow smarter,” he said. “By having these plans in place, we can grow smarter.”
        He noted that for more than 20 years Fayetteville could not annex, and development occurred in a haphazard manner, with subdivisions served by septic tanks and wells, no sidewalks or other urban standards. It is those areas of uncontrolled growth that are now causing problems for the city.
        He noted that the city has had its share of challenges over the year and expects many of them to flow into 2009. He said the biggest challenge is, and will continue to be, lack of resources to do what needs to be done, particularly as it relates to BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure.)
        “We are going to find it difficult to find money to build the schools and roads that we are going to need,” he said, pointing to the current fight for funding for the planned I-295 loop. “We can’t lose that funding, and we need millions in school construction.”
        He noted that key to the city’s success this past year, and in the future, is improved citizen participation in government. He noted that the task forces organized by the city to tackle issues like recycling, transit and now the museum, have been important in resolving the issues.
        He said that the continued growth of downtown is also a bright spot in the city’s future. In the past 10 years, more than $67 million has been invested in downtown. In the next five years if you count the Hope VI grant and the N.C. State Veterans Park, close to $200 million will be spent in the area. “What’s going to happen in the next five years is going to be huge,” said Chavonne. “We are going to have some challenges — like parking — but we will make it happen.”
        He said the success of downtown’s revitalization has not gone unnoticed. “We are getting frequent calls from people who have heard about downtown who want to be a part of it. We are getting people coming with ideas that we didn’t get three years ago,” he said. “This is an exciting time for our community and we are going to do our best to make it a reality.”

    Contact Janice Burton at editor@upandcomingweekly.com

  • As 2010 winds down, Fayetteville residents have a lot to celebrate. For many it’s the return of soldiers from deployments and for others it’s the promise of the new year and a new beginning. Whatever the case, if you want to celebrate in style look no further. This is Fayetteville’s guide to New Year’s Eve mayhem and madness. Check out one or more of these great events, but as always, if you drink remember to bring along a driver!


    Fayetteville’s official party — New Year’s Eve Party in the Park — is a family-focused event that has not just one, but two sets of fireworks. Bring in the New Year with live performances by everyone’s favorite party band — Hot Sauce.

    This event will also have a children’s area hosted by The Partnership For Children, that includes craft activities and an early New Year countdown at 8:30 p.m., with a fireworks show for the little ones who can’t make it until midnight. This area proves to be fun for all ages!

    Beer, champagne, party favors and food will be available for purchase.

    At the stroke of midnight, a dogwood blossom will drop under the spectacle of another fireworks show.

    Bring your chairs and blankets and enjoy this free event, and remember, no coolers, pets (except service animals) or weapons of any kind are allowed in Festival Park.

    If the Party in the Park sounds like your idea of fun, check out the New Year’s Eve special at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux. The package includes overnight accommodations with a late check out at 1 p.m.; hourly shuttles to and from the Party in the Park; and a New Year’s Day Brunch in the Cafe Bordeaux from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The total cost per room/couple is $109 plus tax, and you can add dinner for two at Wiley’s for a package price of $159. For more information or to reserve your room, call 323-0111.

    While you are downtown, you might want to stop in at one of the city’s favorite destinations for nightlife — Huske Hardware House. If you come early, you might want to take advantage of the special New Year’s Eve dinner special. Couples can enjoy a Huske Salad, a 10 oz. New York Strip, a side of their choice, a dessert of their choice and either a glass of house wine or champagne all for $49.99 per couple.

    As the evening progresses, the lights will go down and the party will crank up as Huske brings on dancing to the sounds of your favorite DJ, drink specials, party favors, balloon drop and champagne toast at midnight. Those attending the party will be charged a $20 cover charge at the door.

    Just down the street at Pierro’s, you can ring in the New Year in the newly constructed Sky Lounge. Enjoy a DJ-hosted event, champagne toast and party favors as you await the magic hour of midnight. Book ahead by calling 678-8885, and get tickets for just $10 per person. You can also come early and cash in on the dinner special for two, which includes two appetizers, salads, entrees and drinks.

    At Circa 1800, there will be three dinner seatings: 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Reservations are required and a special menu is available. At midnight, there will be a champagne toast. The Circa celebration is a more relaxed event and is not designed for the party-hardy crowd. For more information or to make reservations, call 568-4725.

    Lido’s is hosting its first New Year’s Bash with drink specials, countdown on the big screen and a champagne toast at midnight. Get to Lido’s early for dinner and avoid the lines and cover charges at the door. They are throwing another big party on New Year’s Day. Call 222-8237 for reservations.

    Crown Coliseum

    Another family-friendly event on New Year’s Eve will take place at the Crown Coliseum as the Fayetteville FireAntz take on the Huntsville Havoc. The FireAntz know Fayetteville likes to party, so the New Year’s Eve game will start at 6 p.m. in order to allow you to get wound up with a high energy, action-packed hockey game before you head out to other events. Visit www.fireantzhockey.com for details.

    Just up the street from the coliseum, the Doghouse is having a New Year’s Eve bash featuring Universal recording artist and local musical favorite, The Fifth. The action lasts from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. There will be party favors and free champagne. Breakfast will be served at midnight. Call 323-2400 for more information.

    Around Town

    Scrub Oaks on Ramsey Street is planning a laid back, festive celebration to bring in the New Year. The menu consists of a trio of specials selected from votes that customers have submitted in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Check out the website www.scruboaks.com. The eight big-screen TVs will follow the countdown with Ryan Seacrest in New York. Folks are welcome to make reservations, but there is no formal seating plan for the evening, and don’t forget the midnight champagne toast.

    The Doubletree Inn on Cedar Creek Road is hosting a three ballroom entertainment extravaganza. Look for R&B and Hip Hop in one ballroom with Gilbert Vaez as the DJ. The second ballroom will feature a live band and plenty of jazz music with Buddy McCloud and the Two Reel Band and guest artist Reggie Codrington. The third ballroom will be more of a social mixer atmosphere with a tribute to Fat Daddy’s Bar and Grill. Entertainment will include karaoke, speed dating and other mixer activities. Pay one price and enjoy all three parties.

    Tickets are $40 per single, $75 per couple and include heavy hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and party favors. Stay the night for $109 dollars and get not only a room but breakfast for two. Tickets are available at Twice as Nice Boutique on Bragg Boulevard, Rogers Law Firm on Bow Street or by calling 578-2959.

    Regulars at Legends Pub know that there is always a good time to be had at 4624 Bragg Boulevard, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. Come on over and ring in 2011 with your favorite bikers. Call 867-2364 for more information.

    Fort Bragg

    Competitive bowlers check out the New Year’s Eve Tournament at Airborne Lanes. From 8 p.m. - 2 a.m., for just $25 for adults and $15 for kids you’ll get an all inclusive bowling experience. There will be a Cosmic 9 pin tournament, a champagne toast at midnight and prizes and give-aways throughout the evening.

    Just down Yadkin Road, The Big Apple is pulling out all the stops for its New Year’s Eve Silver, Gold and Black party. The event starts at 9 p.m., and patrons are asked to dress to impress. The evening features drink specials, dancing and prizes, a balloon drop and champagne toast at midnight and the crowning of Fayetteville’s King and Queen of the New Year! The party starts at 9 p.m. Call 868-5559 for more information.

  • Being Santa Claus may be magical, but it takes a lot of practice, too. So when Santa arrives in Fayetteville the weekend before Christmas, he’s here to hone his sleigh-driving skills and he’s taking Fayetteville residents along for the ride. The annual Downtown Alliance Carriage Rides with Santa are Saturday, December 17 and Sunday, December 18 from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m.


    “Now, Charlie! Now, Jacob! Now, Eli and Mikey! On, Rocky!” isn’t the usual chant you hear from Santa Claus, but no need for alarm. Local Belgian horses from Lumber Bridge fill in while Prancer and the gang is back in the North Pole training for the big day. The horses work their day jobs in the fields during the week and get one glorious weekend filling in for Santa’s reindeer once a year. It turns out that steering a horse and steering a reindeer is very similar. The children do not mind at all. “They love the horses. They want to touch the horses. The horses are very gentle,” says Kim Thomas, a longtime volunteer for Carriage Rides with Santa.

    The kids have a big time of it. They get candy canes and sometimes Santa let’s them ride beside him. They are bundled up with their parents and having a good time. It’s special,” said Thomas.

    The sleigh is actually a white, covered hitch wagon decorated for the holidays and accommodates up to six adults. Lap blankets will be provided to keep the chill at bay. It all makes for an enchanting night.

    “The thing about the sleigh rides is that a lot of people get engaged. They pick that time to take their potential spouse out to ask the question. I’ve seen three proposals. The couples come back from the sleigh rides so happy and telling everyone about getting engaged,” said Thomas.

    For Dr. Hank Parfitt, chair of Carriage Rides with Santa, the best part is the wonder in the children’s faces. “It begins when mom and dad come up with their little kid, say 3- or 4-years-old, and they are on the ground looking up at Santa, who is a pretty big guy in the first place, sitting on the driver’s box of the sleigh. It is over five feet above the ground, he’s way up there, and these little kids, who are all bundled up against the winter cold, with their head tilted back, looking at this giant Santa Claus up in the air and they are completely awestruck. It happens every time.”

    The 20-minute rides begin at the Downtown Alliance Volunteer Center at 222 Hay Street and circles through Historic Fayetteville. Adults and children get the traditional children’s price of $5 per ride, because as Parfitt says, “Everyone is a child at Christmastime.” Reservations are not taken for the ride, but riders are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance on the day of the event. Any proceeds benefit downtown revitalization.

    While it probably will be lovely weather for a sleigh ride together, riders can plan ahead by calling the Downtown Alliance at 222-3382 for weather updates and ride information.

    Photo: Santa prepares for a carriage ride in downtown Fayetteville.

  • 12-14-11-celebrate at one.jpgIf you are searching for ways to get in the holiday spirit this year, look no further. With all of the festivities that Fayetteville has to offer, you and your family are sure to have a Christmas to remember. Whether you’re attending Christmas in the Park, Christmas at Lu Mil Vineyard, Christmas on the Farm, Holiday Lights in the Garden, Kinwood-by-the-Lights or viewing Methodist University’s lights, there will be many decorations to see, and many performances to enjoy.

    The Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation celebrates this year’s Christmas in the Park at Arnette Park, off of Old Wilmington Road. Come see the dazzling 30-foot Christmas tree and view the beautiful scenery and Christmas decorations while strolling down the half-mile walking trail. Enjoy music, dancing, food vendors, arts and crafts, a fi re pit, live entertainment, and photos with Santa.

    Christmas in the Park takes place Wednesday, Dec. 8 through Dec. 22 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Admission is $2 per person and $5 for a picture with Santa.

    Another family-friendly Christmas event takes place at the Lu Mil Vineyard, just south of Cumberland County, in Dublin, N.C. Experience Christmas with a Drive Thru Festival of Lights, take the Kids to Kiddie Land, get some last minute shopping done at the Lu Mil Outlet Shops and grab a bite to eat at the Country Buffet. There is also an antique shop, free wine tasting, nativity scenes, visits from Santa and live entertainment.

    The event began Nov. 25, and will remain open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through Dec. 23 from 6-10 p.m. Admission for the Drive Thru Festival of Lights is $10 per car, $20 per van, $40 per bus (12 or more passengers) and the Country Buffet is $10 per person.

    In addition to the park and the vineyard, visit Gillis Hill Farm for “Christmas on the Farm.” Come hear the story of the first Christmas and Jesus’ birth with Bethlehem Remembered, narrated by the old shepherd (and puppet) named Uncle Aaron. After the show, take a wagon ride through historic Gillis Farm and a stop for hot chocolate, coffee, cookies and more at the Ole Grist Mill. There is a bon-fire at the end of the wagon ride.

    “Christmas on the Farm” can be enjoyed on December 18 and 19 at 6:30 p.m., by reservations only. It costs $6 per person. Call 867-2350 to book your reservation now!

    If you have a green thumb and love Christmas time, Cape Fear Botanical Gardens is the place for you. Visit the garden this December (Thursday through Sunday nights; 5-8 p.m.) for the unveiling of Holiday Lights in the Garden at the Wyatt Visitors Pavilion Complex.

    Explore the winter wonderland fi lled with beautiful lights and decorations, view the gardens’ current exhibit, David Rogers’ Big Bugs, listen to live music on select nights and get your child’s photo made with Santa on Sundays. The Garden Gift Shop is open for souvenirs and Christmas gifts, while Café Cart serves seasonal refreshments each evening.

    Admission to Holiday Lights in the Garden is $8 for non-member adults or $4 for member adults, $2.50 for children ages 6-12 and free for children ages 5 and under.

    Other lighted communities that Fayetteville has to offer are the “24th Annual Kinwood-by-the-Lights” and Methodist University’s holiday lights. Celebrate Christmas with a tour through Kinwood Estates, Kinwood-By-The-River and Kinwood Oaks Developments, or take in the beautiful sight of Methodist University’s festive campus from 6 to 9 p.m. on December 17. If it starts to rain, no worries, the date will be moved to December 18th. For more information on these events call 630-7043.

    Photo: Lu Mil Vineyards Sparkles during the annual Christmas Lights Drive Thru. This and many other special events are ongoing this holiday seasons