Umoja Group celebrates Kwanzaa at Smith Recreation Center

08 N1812P36012CThe Umoja Group, Inc. of Fayetteville presents its annual Kwanzaa celebration Sunday, Dec. 29 from 3-6 p.m. at Smith Recreation Center located at Seabrook Park.

Kwanzaa is a secular event that celebrates culture, family and community.

The activities include a drum call, welcome song, tribute to elders, a libation to honor ancestors, drummers, dancers, singers, a parade of African queens and kings, a feast, a  children’s candlelight ceremony and traditional dance performances. The candle lighting ceremony features the seven principles of Kwanzaa, which are values to live by daily.

 They include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. There will be a presentation of the annual Umoja Group scholarship at the event, as well.
The Umoja Group is a nonprofit organization and donations are appreciated and tax deductible. Bring your favorite food dish to share and dress in ethnic wear.

Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966 when Maulana Karenga introduced the celebration. Karenga modeled the event after traditional African harvest festivals and named it based on the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” Although Kwanzaa takes place during Christmas and Hanukkah seasons, it is not a religious holiday.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 910-485-8035 or email umojagroupfay@gmail.com.

Welcome the new year at the annual Black-eyed Pea Dinner

07 Black eyed peas 16167751712The annual Black-eyed Pea Dinner is a decades-old Fayetteville tradition, drawing hundreds of attendees each year. For many, it would not feel like the start of the new year without this event. Register of Deeds Lee Warren hosts it. It is on New Year’s Day from 11 a.m.-2 p.m at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center in the auditorium.

This event started in the 70s. It was led by Sheriff Otis Jones and local attorney Willis Brown. After Jones died in the late 80s, the event stopped happening. Then when Warren was elected to be the County Commissioner in 1992, he and his friend Owen Spears, who was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, worked hard to make sure the New Year’s Dinner took place again.

Then the district attorney, Grannis partnered with Warren to host the event. Grannis died, but the Grannis family continue to work with Warren on the dinner. Billy West, who is now the district attorney, also helps with the event. West has been working with the event for around 20 years.

“Years ago, there used to be events like this from time to time,” said Warren. “There aren’t many events like this that are open to the public. I’m not sure if there are many events left like this anymore.” 
The menu consists of black-eyed peas, collard greens, barbecue, candied yams, dinner rolls, tea and coffee.

“When you are preparing an event that you don’t send invitations to, you run an ad in the newspaper, and you invite in essence anybody who reads the paper with this,” said Warren. “Everybody is invited. So, we never know exactly how many people are coming. There could be several thousand people coming. We start several months ahead in preparing for the dinner, ordering food and  lining up all the help, everything it takes to put on an event like that.”

Warren continued, “We prepare so that we don’t run out of food. We prepare a little extra because every year, whatever we have leftover, we donate to the My Rover Reis Home to help the people that they house there.”

For entertainment, Larry Chasten, a gospel singer, performs. When asked about his favorite part of the event, Lee Warren said it is “seeing people that come every year, renewing old friendships and making new ones. That is the best part about it. It is  just a good time to renew old friendships and to say hello.”

Another priority for the day of the dinner is making sure everybody has a good time and gets fed. “I don’t think we have ever completely run out of food any year that we have done it, so our goal is to not do that,” Warren said.

Hosting an Evening of CARE dinner a fun and unique experience

11 N1609P39007CSince 1993, The CARE Clinic has been serving the residents of Cumberland County and the surrounding areas. Providing free quality health care to low-income adults is the mission of the clinic. To run the clinic with the excellence they desire to provide to their patients, the clinic and staff rely on generous donors, grants and fundraising events. One such fundraising event is an annual event known as an Evening of CARE Dinner. It’s as much a social tradition as it is a fundraiser, bringing together participants from all walks of life for an evening of fun to support an important institution. The next Evening of CARE takes place Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. Tickets and slots to host sell out fast.

Those who offer to host an Evening of CARE Dinner, provide a memorable evening for their guests where the meal is either provided by the clinic, prepared by the host or prepared by and/or served at a restaurant of their choice. The hosts can be creative by providing hors d’oeuvres and beverages and have a small group of a few people, or they can host a much larger group. It depends on how many people the host decides to accommodate. There can also be co-hosted dinners to allow more people to join in. Or, if you’re new to town or you’d like to provide a home to those who are new to town, that’s an option as well.

If the host decides to have the meal provided by the clinic, there are two types of dinner menus to choose from, either chicken or lasagna. No matter what the hosts choose to do, the entire evening is about raising funds for the CARE Clinic. If you’re unable to host but would like to be a sponsor, that’s an option as well.

One of the perks of hosting, is the freedom to get creative with the tone of the event. If a fire pit suits you and your guests — do it. Want to hire a magician to entertain your guest? Perfect. Want to bring in a local musician to set a lively mood? Yes, please. Hosts are encouraged to customize the experience as they see fit.

If you’re interested in having a fun and adventurous evening while raising money for an organization that is vital to our community, visit www.thecareclinic.org to find the Host Response Form. For more information, contact Angie at development@thecareclinic.org or call 910-485-0555. Once you’ve reached out to be a part of the Evening of CARE Dinner, a packet will be sent, which will assist you in organizing your evening. The cost to host or co-host an event is $50, and a ticket to attend is $75.

Ryan’s Reindeer Run: Run because you can

12 01 Truman and runRyan’s Reindeer Run is a longstanding tradition in Fayetteville. It celebrates the life of Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh, who died in 2003 from complications of a bone marrow transplant after a 15-month battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The run celebrates Ryan and his passion for life and his love of sports while bringing people together to share a unique and uplifting experience. Ryan’s mom, Roberta Humphries, started the run in Ryan’s honor. This year, it takes place Saturday, Dec. 21 at Cape Fear River Trail’s Jordan Soccer Complex. The 14th Annual Ryan’s Reindeer 5K Fun Run/Walk is family-friendly and is open to walkers and runners. Bring your favorite people and log a few steps together celebrating life and good health.

Long-time participants will notice a few changes this year, but many of the traditions that make this run so unique are still a part of the event. There are two new organizations involved in hosting the event, although Ryan’s mom is still very much a part of the run.

The Fayetteville Running Club and Fayetteville Area Tri Warriors have come together to host the event. “FRC is a registered nonprofit, and we use our love for running to give back to our community,” said David Wilkes, FRC president. “We do that through proceeds from our Annual Firecracker 4 Miler race on July 4. We have 15 different meetups a week to choose from, and you do not have to be a ‘professional’ to run with us. We have great socials and expert guest speakers at our monthly meetings.”

Shelly Los is the vice president of The Fayetteville Area Tri Warriors. The Fayetteville Area Tri Warriors is a group of triathletes dedicated to the sports of swimming, biking and running. “Our 12 02 runathletes range from the beginner to the Ironman, teenager to senior citizen,” said Los. “We encourage people of all fitness levels and interests to branch out and push their limits. Our meetings and club events include swim, bike maintenance, transition and running clinics as well as group workouts with social get-togethers afterwards. Each year, our club organizes the Little Warriors Triathlon, a local triathlon for children ages 6-14. … We love to meet new people and welcome them to our community.”

Wilkes sees this run as a good fit for FRC because, “First, this race supports the Child Advocacy Center. We are all about supporting local nonprofits. Our members put in thousands of volunteer hours supporting many local events … and second, this race has been a longstanding tradition because of the cause and because it is one of the most fun runs in town. … We want everyone to know that even though Roberta Humphries is allowing us to present this run, this is still Ryan’s Reindeer Run, and it is still Roberta’s event.”

Los agreed, adding that it is a good fit for the Fayetteville Area Tri Warriors, too, saying, “The Tri Warriors have developed profound respect for Roberta Humphries and her team at the Child Advocacy Center, so we view this fun run as one more opportunity to serve our community. For me, Ryan’s Reindeer Run has become a Fayetteville Christmas tradition right alongside setting out milk and cookies for Santa Claus. Families with children of all ages come out to enjoy the costumes, camaraderie and Christmas spirit — all the while supporting a wonderful local charity. Plus, it allows you to bank some calories for holiday feasting!”

12 03 people at runWhat’s new

There are a few changes this year, starting with the route and making it an untimed run. This year’s route unfolds on the scenic Cape Fear River trail. “This is the first year that FRC and Fayetteville Tri Warriors have presented this run, and it is our intention to help Roberta to continue having this run for many more years,” said Wilkes. “Next year, we look forward to moving this route back to its original route and making it a timed race again. This year, we just want to keep the fun in this 14th annual fun run.”

Registration is 50% off this year, at $15, although next year the event organizers intend to return the registration price to full cost. Registration for the first 250 participants includes an exclusive Ryan’s Reindeer Run bomber hat, as well. Regular long-sleeved shirts are also available.

This year’s proceeds will go to The Child Advocacy Center in memory of Ryan Kishbaugh.

What’s staying the same

12 04 ryan runOne favorite aspect of the race for many long-time participants is the costumes. It brings a sense of lightheartedness to an already lively and entertaining morning. “We are definitely encouraging everyone to bring on the costumes,” Wilkes said. “This year, our main goal was to keep this race fun. We very much appreciate the support we have gotten from the regular sponsors, volunteers and the running community. … Our clubs know how to put on a fun and well-organized event, and this year you will … have a great time.”

Santa will be there. Come and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. There will be door prizes, too.

Work groups and teams are welcome.

Wilkes and Los are excited to be a part of the event. “I will leave with the words of Ryan Kishbaugh,” said Wilkes. “’So do a favor for me and whatever you’re doing today, just go out and RUN, somewhere, anywhere, just RUN because you can – RPK.’ — written three days after receiving his bone marrow transplant.”


Register at https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Fayetteville/RyansReindeerFunRun5K online. Online registration closes Dec. 20. On-Site registration will be available Friday, Dec. 20 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Fairfield Inn and Suites, 4249 Ramsey Street. Call 910-223-7867 for more details. Same-day registration takes place Saturday, Dec. 21, from 7-7:45 a.m. at Cape Fear River Trail - Jordan Soccer Complex, 445 Treetop Drive.

The race starts at 8 a.m. Visit http://www.ryansreindeerrun.com/ to find out more.

‘Holiday Lights in the Garden’ a must see

10 01 Holiday Lights Thomas KeeverAh, the holidays. Music. Performances. Shopping. And lights. The cheerful, glowing, twinkling lights. If you haven’t been yet, bring your favorite people and head to Cape Fear Botanical Garden’s  9th annual “Holiday Lights in the Garden” Dec. 19 – 23 from 5:30-9 p.m. It celebrates this special time of year and showcases the splendor and magic of the winter season in one of the area’s most sublime settings.

“Holiday Lights is a walking tour of Cape Fear Botanical Garden at nighttime,” said Lia Hasapis, marketing coordinator of Cape Fear Botanical Garden. “We light up the garden with lights, other gigantic lights, twinkling lights and it showcases beauty in the winter.”

Hasapis added that this year, they decided to bring the focus of the experience back to what they are —  which is a Botanical Garden. There are natured themed displays throughout the garden to enhance the light displays.

While lights are a big part of the event, there is so much more that makes it a special place to visit this time of year. “The event will feature caroling hayrides, live performances each night, pictures with Santa, s’mores and much more,” said Hasapis. “The live performances will take place each night, and it will feature community members from churches, schools and up-and-coming artists from Fayetteville,” said Hasapis. “There will be a holiday market that will have vendors that will sell holiday crafted items. … We have consignment items in our garden gift shop 10 02 Holiday Lights FB bonfirefrom holiday crafts and necessities that everybody will need this holiday season.”

Hasapis added there will be several food trucks, s’mores, apple cider and hot chocolate available for purchase. “The hay riders will ride through a special path that is only for the hay riders that is through the garden and it is roped off,” said Hasapis. “They will see different kinds of lights, other parts of the garden. And at the end of the hayride, there is an animated story that has gigantic lights that form characters from the story as well.

“The event is going to be a lot of fun, and you just need to come and glow with us this holiday season,” said Hasapis.

Admission cost is $12 for nonmembers and members will get preferred pricing every other night at $8. A family picture with Santa is $10. For more information call 910-486-0221.

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