1897 Poe House hosts the Holiday Jubilee

08 02 Pine Christmas Garland at the 1897 Poe HouseThe nights are getting longer, and the air is turning colder as the winter season settles upon Fayetteville. The festive season is the air and many families want to go to memorable events with their children. As the holidays approach, Fayetteville organizations are preparing many events to celebrate the Christmas season, including the ever-popular Annual Holiday Jubilee at the 1897 Poe House. The 1897 Poe House will host this event for everyone Dec. 8 from 1-5 p.m. This event is free of charge — so everyone in the family can come.

The Poe House will be covered in beautiful traditional Christmas decorations of the Victorian era. The event will include a multitude of Christmas-related things to do that will entertain everyone in the family.

Megan Maxwell, the Poe House coordinator, is in her eighth year of being in charge of this event.  She noted that “It’s geared for all ages. We have a caroling concert on the front porch. The adults really love (it), the kids (do) as well. We have Santa for the younger kids to visit. It’s really for all ages.”

Two groups will perform the carols — the Coventry Carolers and Cross Creek Chordsmen. The Coventry Carolers are an acapella group. They will sing more traditional Christmas songs. Maxwell said, “They perform pretty much every year we have the event. The people really enjoy them. They kind of do the Victorian-era Christmas carols.” They will perform at Holiday Jubilee at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m., showing off their vocal talents.

They will be followed by Cross Creek Chordsmen. Maxwell described the Chordsmen as, “Our local barbershop chorus,” adding that “they do some modern tunes, too.” The Cross Creek Chordsmen will perform at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. 

Maxwell said that both acts, “Will make for a very festive event.”

After listening to the lovely voices of the performers, tour the magnificent Poe House. You can tour the house with interpreters in each room to tell you about the history of the house and help guide you into that festive spirit of an era long passed. The kitchen will be open and using its wood-burning 1902 stove to serve free cookies and cider for attendees. “It’s a great opportunity to view the house,” Maxwell 08 Cross Creek Chordsmen perform at the Poe Housesaid about the Holiday Jubilee. “The house is beautiful year-round, but with the Christmas decorations up, it just makes it all the more spectacular.”
Also, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the house, so that the family can get a picture of Santa and have their little children tell Santa what they want for Christmas. “We don’t charge for pictures,” said Maxwell. “Parents are allowed to come and take their own pictures on their phone. It’s a free opportunity to get your Santa pictures.” 

The Holiday Jubilee has had a professional Santa for four years now, so it will provide a great photo opportunity for the kids — or for the entire family. Maxwell noted that it is a great way to end a visit to the Holiday Jubilee.

Holiday Jubilee will Dec. 8 from 1-5 p.m. The entire event is completely free and includes musical groups, cookies, cider and pictures with Santa. Enjoy the beautiful 1897 Poe House in all of its Christmas glory, while creating some lifelong family memories or traditions.

If attending the Holiday Jubilee is out of the question, there is still time to see the Poe House in its holiday glory. The house will be decorated with all of its Christmas gear by Nov. 19. Megan Maxwell said, “The Christmas decorations go up the week of Thanksgiving. So, people can come and view the Christmas decorations during our regular Poe House tours, starting Nov. 19, and they are up all the way through Jan. 5.”

For more information, visit the website at https://museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov/ or call 910-500-4240.

Enjoy carriage rides with Santa

07 SANTA 11 2018 DEC 16The holiday season is in full swing, offering options galore when it comes time to celebrate. Cool Spring Downtown District offers a twist on a downtown favorite — an up-close-and-personal carriage ride with everyone’s favorite jolly elf. The organization will host its  holiday-themed horse-drawn Carriage Rides with Santa” Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 7-8, 14-15 and 21-22, from 1-8 p.m.

“What is really exciting, especially for the kids, is the Santa carriage rides, and, typically during those three weekends, we will have up to 1,000 kids and families riding with Santa Claus,” said Hank Parfitt, programming committee member of the Cool Spring Downtown District. “The carriage is decorated for whatever holiday it is and the driver for the carriage ride is Santa.”   
Parfitt added that the owners of the horses and carriage go all out decorating for the holidays. “This may be the only city in North Carolina where Santa is actually driving the carriage,” said Parfitt. “These rides are tons of fun, and we have people of all ages do it because this is the perfect holiday activity.”

Parfitt added this is a family activity, but singles and couples can join in the fun, too, by enjoying a carriage ride after watching the Christmas parade.

“We do have the early bird special for the carriage ride with Santa for $5,” said Parfitt.

“To obtain the early bird special, you have to ride between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.”     

The rides are provided by S & S Carriage Rides. “They are very enthusiastic, very professional and always concerned about client safety,” said Parfitt. “Each kid will receive a candy cane as a gift, and after the ride, you can take a picture with Santa and the horse with your camera phone. 

“December is just a magical time downtown with all the lights and stores,” said Parfitt. “It is a great experience to come downtown, have a meal at one of the nice restaurants, do a little shopping and go for a carriage ride with Santa.” 
Tickets are $10 for adults and children over 10 and $5 for children under 10. There are no advanced reservations. Ticket sales start at 12:30 p.m. on the day of the rides at 222 Hay Street across from the Cameo Theater. Adults can ride for $5 during the early bird special from 1 p.m.- 2 p.m.   

For more information, weather updates, or to purchase tickets, call 910-223-1089. 

The Heritage Square Tour of Homes makes the holidays merry and bright

13 House at ChristmasThe Heritage Square Historical Society understands how cherished holiday experiences are and wants to be a part of the celebrated traditions of the season. The annual Tour of Homes provides an enchanted, self-guided tour of five homes in the historic Haymount area of Fayetteville. The tour begins at Heritage Square Historical Society’s 222-year-old home, the Sandford House and Oval Ballroom, located at 255 Dick St. It takes place Dec. 8.

People will adorn the exterior of their homes with embellishments to enhance their charm and decorate the interior with ornamentations of the season. All of this prepares hearts for the joyous moments of the holidays. 

These locations will welcome visitors with hot spiced cider and homemade cookies.

The Sanford House has been seasonally decorated by several local garden clubs as well. The Sandford House and Oval Ballroom are prepared to start participants on their journey of the Christmas season with simple, yet elegant touches of all things beautiful.

After enjoying time at Heritage Square, the map will direct attendees to four other exquisite, private homes. One of those homes belongs to Brian and Wendy Jones Carter at 1114 Longleaf Dr. Not only will they provide magnificent decorations, but Voices of the Heart, the former “Heart of Christmas” singers, will entertain guests with yuletide melodies while walking about the home.

The merry mood continues as spectators proceed to the remaining three locations. One of those homes is the residence of Marvin and Susan Butler Allan located at 517 Northview Ln., ready to provide visitors with awe-inspiring decorations.

Next you can drive to 2516 North Edgewater Dr., home to Virginia Oliver, to view breathtaking, joyous adornments throughout her home.

And finally, the Belmont House, located at 1104 Hay St., will wow guests with the allure of shimmering brilliance. These homes are decorated with the purpose of captivating each person in an extraordinary and memorable way.
All of this Christmas cheer happens Dec. 8, from 1-5:30 p.m.  Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at three locations — Heritage Square Historical Society, The Pilgrim at Westwood Shopping Center and Leclair’s General Store on Hay Street. All proceeds go to the restoration and preservation of the historic homes at Heritage Square.
Call 910-483-6009 for more information.

‘Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret’ A spotlight on sacrifice and healing

12 01 Last OutFor anyone who serves in any branch of the military, their job is a major part of their life; and when service members go overseas, they come back with experiences and stories they need to share, both good and bad, for the sake of their wellbeing. “Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret,” which will be at the Crown Complex Dec. 7 and 8, will portray some of those experiences in a way never before seen in any production.

For Scott Mann, a veteran, professional speaker and storyteller who was stationed at Fort Bragg, acting and voice classes were ways for him to become more effective on stage. After a coach recommended he write a one-person show about something from the war, he wrote a short script. “My coach said, ‘You know what? That’s a play. You should think about that,’”said Mann. Eventually the idea evolved into a full-length play —“Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret,” which three years later, made its way to the stage.

Although storytelling is used in other societies worldwide to help soldiers transition from war to home, that isn’t the case in America. “My transition was very dark,” said Mann. “And it was through storytelling that I healed myself. We don’t teach it ... We’re about the only society on the planet that doesn’t. I want storytelling to be at the epicenter of this play.”

Director Ame Livingston agrees. “We don’t hear from our veterans in our country. When they come back, they aren’t encouraged by our country to story tell … (The play) is a beautiful story of the whole family’s sacrifices. It’s all told through love.”

Mann’s intention with the play was twofold. He wants the audience to feel the impact of modern war, regardless of how they feel about the war itself, and he hopes the story will shed light on the war to help people make more informed decisions in the future.



12 02 Wall of Honor“I really wanted to validate the journey of those who fought and those who stayed home and endured it,” Mann explained. “We really needed a strong connection to the military to give that visceral, emotional feeling — you know, just take all the armor off and just put it out on the stage in a really raw way.”

The story is authentic because while it isn’t all autobiographical, it is all based on true stories. Everyone in the cast and crew has ties to the military. “Last Out” has a cast of four people. Mann is a retired Lieutenant Colonel. Leonard Bruce, a former Green Beret, has been a veteran for over 22 years from the U.S. Army. Bryan Bachman served in the U.S. Army for roughly eight years and spent most of his time at Fort Bragg, as he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Livingston, who has a role in the play in addition to directing, comes from a family with a rich military history.

Kari Ellis, the tour manager, worked as a forensic video specialist for the Fayetteville Police Department and retired last year in April. Her husband served 22 years in the U.S. Air Force. “He went overseas and never came back my husband,” Ellis explained. After having a stroke that stole his voice, her husband committed suicide at the end of 2017. After experiencing such an intense trauma, Ellis left Fayetteville and moved to Florida, where Mann urged her to be the tour manager. She is best friends with Mann’s wife. “It’s not in my wheelhouse, but the more I did, the more I felt I had purpose,” Ellis said.

With 2019 coming to a close, Bachman pointed out how long it has been since 9/11.  “We’re handing off this war to our children that we didn’t finish,” he explained. “Right now, in Afghanistan there are men and women who weren’t alive when the towers fell. And that’s hard to just wrap  your head around sometimes,” he explained.
Although the plot depicts military life, Bachman estimates that 75% of the audiences tend to be civilians. “The story is universal. It’s so personal and authentic,” he said.

Based on the population of the United States, 8 million people have post traumatic stress every year, according to the National Center for PTSD. Service members often times face numerous stressors that can lead to post traumatic stress.

As many people know, especially in a community with such a strong military presence, the hardships of war don’t just affect the people serving but their families and friends as well. The production pays tribute to those people and allows them to share their stories through one of their props, the Wall of Honor.

When Mann was serving, he built a wall with a set of shelves in his home. When he returned from the war, he would bring his family trinkets and souvenirs and put them on the shelves as a way to stay connected with his children. The Wall of Honor is featured in the play. Since the play began touring, it has become a trend that gold star families and loved ones of those who served and veterans have given their own trinkets, like dog tags and pictures, for instance, to be used for the wall.  “We put that on the wall with reverence,” said Mann. “It’s grown into this beautiful museum of service and love.”

One thing that stands out to Bruce is how accurately and thoroughly the play showcases a variety of relationships. “You see what people cope with when you’re gone, but then you see the relationships you build with people who are completely different — completely different cultures,” he said. “It’s another great part of the play that resonates with me. Relationships with people that you would not have relationships with otherwise. That stands out to me. It breaks down stereotypes that people might currently have of people they don’t know. Their lives and what everyone wants are very similar across cultures… This play shows those things in a different way.”

Although war and the sacrifice that comes with it is always difficult, “Last Out” offers hope, not only by affirming the stories of service members and their families on stage but by helping its very own audience in the healing process. “Last Out” travels with a licensed psychologist, Diego Hernandez, so that if anyone needs help with their post-traumatic stress, he can treat them in the lobby.  “The big thing that we wanted to do is not just admire the problem,” Bachman said.

“Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret” will be at the Crown Complex Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $35. Visit http://www.lastoutplay.com/ for more information and to buy tickets.

 Pictured 1, L-R: Scott Mann, Bryan Bachman, Ame Livingston, Lenny Bruce.

Picture 2: The Wall of Honor is prominently displayed as a “museum of service and love.”

Inside Gilbert Theater’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

11 ImageThere’s something about tradition that causes us to feel at home, even if we’re not in a city that is our original home. The Gilbert Theater understands how important tradition is to the community of Fayetteville and honors this by performing the production of “It’s A Wonderful Life” during the Christmas season. George Bailey’s story has been told on their stage for years, and it’s a production the community of Fayetteville not only anticipates but holds very dear. This year, the show opens Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 22.

This classic film is a timeless story and, according to the play’s director, Nicki Hart, “The Gilbert transforms this beloved film into a beloved stage play. We make it unique, because of our stage and our theater. Our production goes hand-in-hand with the heartfelt quality that our actors bring to the performances every year.”

Hart points out that even though there was a large turn out during the audition process, she had to be mindful of who play the characters of George Bailey and Mary Hatch because as the two main characters, they carry the show. “The audience will see them have moments in their lives of happiness and joy, but also serious struggles. We watch George, who is loved by the town of Bedford Falls, go through such a struggle that he desperately tries to fix his problems himself. He feels the only way out of his problems is to end his own life. But the audience sees that when he calls on a greater force, who shows up in the form of an angel names Clarence, he inadvertently realizes he really does have a wonderful life.”

For returning audiences, they will see a lot of similar qualities from previous years’ performances. However, Assistant Director John Doerner, has the vision to express new ideas within this familiar story line to bring a newness and uniqueness to the production.

In fact, audiences of all ages can look forward to spending a few hours being transported to the town of Bedford Falls by way of the Gilbert Theater. They can look forward to experiencing a wide array of emotions as they watch the actors bring their characters to life in a way that is heartwarming. The story provides a reminder that family isn’t always those we are related to. That prayers matter and miracles happen. And that no matter what we are facing, when we change our perspective, we can truly see that we have a wonderful life.

The Gilbert Theater is located at 116 Green St. Performances for “It’s A Wonderful Life” are Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 1, 6, 7, 8 and Dec. 20, 21, and 22. Times are 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There are two student matinees – Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. and Dec. 9 at 10 a.m.. Tickets can be purchased at www.gilberttheater.com. Prices are $16 and $14 for students, military, first responders and seniors. Groups of 10 or more are $10. 

“It’s a Wonderful Life” opens at Gilbert Theater Nov. 29. Pictured above: Laurel Flom as Mary Hatch Bailey, Justin Toyer as George Bailey, Abigayle Hodges as Zuzu Bailey.


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