Cornerstone Scavenger Hunt shares downtown history

Fay Trans Local His MuseumIt’s finally the perfect time of year to get outside. The beautiful North Carolina foliage acts as a colorful backdrop for families all over the Sandhills wanting to don their lightest jackets and enjoy weather that’s beginning to lean toward crisp in the early morning and evenings. The only question is: what is there to do?

The Fayetteville History Museum has put together a “unique, self-serve, downtown history adventure” to satisfy anyone looking for something different to do outside this season. Throughout November, a map full of clues will lead big and little sleuths around downtown Fayetteville to discover its architecture and history with new eyes.

“It’s a great way to use your brain power and your foot power to experience downtown,” Heidi Bleazey, Historic Properties Coordinator, shared.

While the Fayetteville History Museum is known for its knowledgeable staff and informative guided tours, a scavenger hunt of this scope is new territory for the museum. The Downtown Cornerstone Scavenger Hunt is an opportunity to show just how fun history can be.

Participants can grab a guide from the Fayetteville History Museum Tuesday-Saturday during regular operating hours and begin their search for cornerstones embedded in the historical buildings around the city. A cornerstone is a stone that traditionally forms the base corner of a building, joining two walls. As many historic buildings in downtown Fayetteville date back over a century — participants can find these architectural gems in some of downtown’s oldest structures.

Bleazey is especially excited for people to get out and about in Fayetteville to see “nuggets of history” for themselves.

“I love that the hunt is taking people beyond the core of Hay Street,” she explained. “We’re taking them off the dine-shop-eat path and inviting them to stand right where people stood over 100 years ago. These buildings we go by on our daily business are what remains of those who wanted to see change and bring change to this area.”

The self-guided scavenger hunt can be completed all at once or broken up over several days throughout the month. Once all items have been located, participants can return their completed sheets to the history museum for a prize.

Although the Downtown Cornerstone Historical Scavenger Hunt is designed for history lovers aged six to 96, Bleazey believes it’s a great outing for anyone looking to experience history up close.

“It’s a perfect hunt for anyone who wants to experience downtown and get a taste of our local history,” she said.

The hunt is ideal for family outings, team building, or a newly stationed soldier wanting to learn more about the area. Participating also creates an opportunity to discover new shops and restaurants in the bustling downtown area.

Ultimately, through this event, Bleazey hopes people develop an appetite for Fayetteville history, a topic she feels very passionate about and is proud to share with others.

“From its roots, Fayetteville has been a community that doesn’t always follow textbook history. The more you look, you see people and events that don’t follow standard American history. I love being a go-between for people from the past and people of the [present] community.”

The Downtown Cornerstone Scavenger Hunt is free and open to the public. Participants can pick up their blank Scavenger Hunt guide sheets Tuesday-Saturday at 325 Franklin St. in downtown Fayetteville.

A Dickens Holiday: A celebration of Christmas traditions in downtown Fayetteville

dickens 5All are invited to downtown Fayetteville the day after Thanksgiving. Locals, visitors, families, and friends gather to kick off the holiday season and share in a spirit of goodwill and gratitude.

This year, the Downtown Alliance is producing A Dickens Holiday in partnership with the Fayetteville History Museum, generous sponsors, and downtown businesses. It will take place on Nov. 25 from 1 to 9 p.m. on Franklin Street, centered where the Downtown Market is held every Saturday year-round. Shoppers are invited to come earlier to take advantage of the downtown shops’ Dickens Holiday Deals.

A Dickens Holiday is a 22-year beloved Fayetteville tradition that was created to draw people downtown to shop for the holidays while enjoying “A Christmas Carol” brought to life in a festive generosity of spirit. It’s a fun way of reminding people that there is a great downtown with a variety of local establishments here in Fayetteville that shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of chain stores, said Hank Parfitt, one of the Downtown Alliance volunteer organizers.

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the day will feature reenactors stationed throughout “Dickens Village” dressed as street urchins, the ghost of Jacob Marley, miser Ebeneezer Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, Queen Victoria, Princess Bonetta and other characters from the book
and period.

Throughout the day, there will be strolling musicians, magical acts, ax-throwing, a balloon artist, the Victorian Llamas and even Father Christmas. Visitors can enjoy the musical entertainment of the Coventry Carolers, the Oakwood Waits, the Cross Creek Pipe and Drums and the Highland Brass Quintet who will perform Christmas music in costume throughout the day.

The Victorian era denotes the 63 years Victoria was Queen of England, lasting from 1837 to her death in 1901. “A Christmas Carol,” written by Charles Dickens, captured the characteristics of the mid-Victorian revival of the Christmas holiday. Visitors are welcome to attend wearing their own Victorian era garb. Helpful tips regarding the best way to create that perfect Victorian era look without breaking the bank or doing any sewing can be found at the Downtown Alliance website www.faydta.com/ADickensHoliday/. Top hats and capes will be for sale at the Dickens Merchandise Booth.

“The whole downtown is happy during the event, and you have this strong feeling of community,” Parfitt said. “That’s what we call the ‘magic of Dickens.’”

Like Market Days in Victorian England, there will be vendor stalls lining the streets, who along with downtown’s unique shops, will offer plenty of opportunities to pick up Christmas gifts while being entertained by the sights and sounds of the holidays. A Dickens Holiday is “probably Fayetteville at its best,” Parfitt added. “For many merchants, they have their best single day of sales” during the event.

“I’ve been involved with Dickens for a dozen years or more,” said Heidi Bleazey, historic properties coordinator for the Fayetteville History Museum. “And I’m just always impressed at how much the community comes together and how much downtown shines.”

With 25 locally owned eateries and drink purveyors within walking distance of the event, it’s easy to relax and enjoy a variety of food and beverages, along with shopping at the 30 specialty retail shops, while downtown.

The Fayetteville History Museum will co-host and serve as the center of the festivities. During the day, the museum will be known as “Victoria Station,” the perfect conduit between the present and the past. Two horse-drawn “Cinderella” carriages, sponsored by the Cool Spring Downtown District, will take revelers for a 15-20 minute ride around the museum along the adjacent streets. This is a private ride in an elegant carriage for a romantic couple — or for the whole family if they wish. The cost is $75 no matter how large the family. Tickets are being sold in advance and can be purchased at VisitDowntownFayetteville.com.

“The Fayetteville History Museum is housed in a national-register property,” Bleazey said. “It’s the 1890 Cape Fear and Yadkin Railway Depot. Multiple aspects of the Victorian-era life and the period are going to be featured, and Dickens is going to be highlighted in our museum as well.”

Around 5:15 p.m., there will be a “Lighting of the Candles” to mark the arrival of the holidays and to greet Queen Victoria and other character actors as they appear on the performance stage along with the musical performers, and Sir John, the emcee.

“We will have Scrooge on stage, too,” Parfitt said. “And I rather suspect he will tell the audience that, after he’s seen man’s love for one another in downtown Fayetteville, he has become a changed man.”

The ceremony will end at 5:45 p.m., in time for the crowd to attend the tree-lighting in front of the Arts Council. All of downtown will be a lively evening venue for shopping and activities to include Franklin Street.

The event will continue with the “Dickens After Dark” market and activities and Carriage Rides from 7 to 9 p.m.
The Arts Council will hold the annual tree lighting ceremony at about 6:15 p.m. as part of its Holidays on Hay ... A Season of Light celebration. The beautiful Cool Spring Downtown District tree is 22-feet-tall. It makes a perfect holiday picture backdrop, so be sure to return downtown to take photos.
Later the Arts Council will feature a light show of more than 200 drones displaying gigantic holiday images in the sky for approximately 15 minutes, visible from up to four miles away.

“We anticipate that people will want to go back and forth between the two events and enjoy all the festivities,” Parfitt said. “We look at this as a giant celebration with two big parts.”

A Dickens Holiday will be 1 to 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 25 — the day after Thanksgiving — in downtown Fayetteville. The Fayetteville History Museum is located at 325 Franklin Street.
Parking is available in the Franklin Street deck and parking lots.

Spaghetti dinner and Greek pastry sale set for Nov. 16

21The Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church is back with its annual World’s Largest Spaghetti Dinner and Greek Pastry sale, Nov. 16 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“Spaghetti is the perfect food for everyone of all ages,” Lia Hasapis said.

The spaghetti dinner not only serves as a fundraiser for the church, but also a delicious lunch and dinner for the community. According to Hasapis, the sauce is a special recipe passed down from generation to generation, and the spaghetti dinner and pastry sale is a chance for the church to show the community “kefi,” which means fun, enthusiasm and a passion for life
in Greek.

“We provide kefi at the [spaghetti dinner],” Hasapis said.

It takes nearly 4,000 pounds of dry spaghetti, 900 gallons of tomato sauce and over 100 volunteers to make this delicious fundraiser a reality. The volunteers at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church start by preparing noodles, spaghetti sauce, cheese, bread and baking pastries days in advance.

“With the spaghetti dinner and Greek pastry sale [called] the world’s largest, it takes a lot of prep work to [get ready] for such” a big event, Hasapis said.

If you missed the Greek pastries Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church delivered back in September during the Greek Festival, this is your opportunity to right that wrong.
Desserts include Baklava, Greece’s most famous dessert, a phyllo layered pastry filled with honey, spices and chopped nuts; Kataifi, shredded phyllo filled with nuts, dipped in honey and syrup; Finikia, a traditional Greek spice cookie that is sweet, crumbly, dipped in honey and topped with nuts, plus much more.

The World’s Largest Spaghetti Dinner and Greek Pastry sale is takeout only, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 16. Tickets are $10 per spaghetti plate, plus a la carte for everything else.
The Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church was built in 1954, when the Parish Council and Board of Directors for the Hellenic Community Center signed the contract to build the Hellenic Center at the northern edge of Oakridge Avenue.

The Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church has a chapel, classroom, fellowship hall and porch that opens into a spacious lot and stage. Since 2009, Reverend Alexander M. Papagikos has been serving the parish.

The Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church is located at 614 Oakridge Avenue, at the very end if coming from Hay Street. Keep in mind Oakridge Avenue begins directly across from the Cape Fear Regional Theatre at the top of the hill in Haymount.

The World’s Largest Spaghetti Dinner and Greek Pastry sale began in 1958, thanks to parishioner Pete Parrous. To learn more about the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, or to pre-order as many spaghetti plates as possible to be picked up during the event, please visit www.FayGreekChurch.com.

Local foundation hosts picture event with Santa Claus

Pop up Santa picsSanta and his elves are coming early this year, thanks to the Fayetteville chapter of the Jack and Jill of America Foundation.

The organization’s second Pop-Up Pictures With Santa Just Like Me fundraising event will take place on Nov. 19 at Honeycutt Recreation Center from 1 to 4 p.m.
Big kids, little kids and believers of all ages are invited to enjoy hot cocoa and cookies with a few elves and have their picture taken with a Santa Claus of color before the holiday season gets fully underway. It’s the perfect time to get a jump start on holiday cards while celebrating diversity.

A team will be ready to greet visitors upon arrival, available to answer questions about the organization and opportunities to get involved.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Fisher House Foundation Inc. and Raeford Cares Mentoring Movement. Additionally, P3 Weddings and Events will sponsor five families identified by Raeford Cares to have their photos taken.

Up & Coming Weekly spoke with Ericka Whitaker, foundation chair of the Fayetteville chapter of the Jack & Jill Foundation of America, about the event and its intended impact on the community.

“We just want to get a jump start on all the other Santas,” Whitaker joked.

On a more serious note, Whitaker shared the foundation’s hope to increase visibility and representation in the African American community for leaders and heroes that look like the children and families they serve.

“What we have historically seen is that children of color don't often see Santas that look like them,” Whitaker explained. “We want to make sure our children are aware of their culture.”

"The desire to promote images of positivity and success within the Black community is at the heart of the Jack & Jill Foundation of America's mission to “transform African American communities one child at a time.”

Comprised mostly of African American mothers, the national organization represents over 242 chapters and 40,000 family members. Jack & Jill of America Foundation is dedicated to “stimulating children’s growth and development through educational, cultural, civic, health, recreational, and social opportunities,” particularly for African American children aged two to nineteen.

Established in 1938 by Black socialite and civic organizer Marion Stubbs Thomas, the Jack & Jill of America Foundation has spent the last eight decades cultivating leaders with a strong sense of duty and integrity, which led Whitaker to join the Fayetteville chapter seven years ago.

“I wanted my daughter to be involved in giving back to the community,” Whitaker shared. “I wanted her to understand there are professionals that look just like her. I believe the Jack and Jill Foundation has a strong impact because we really invest in our children's education and leadership. This organization is another tool in our toolbox to develop her as an individual.”

The Fayetteville chapter, which falls under the mid-Atlantic region, serves 23 members and families locally. The local chapter is involved in several programs within the community, like serving meals, partnering with local schools to provide needed resources, and volunteering with local food banks. The goal is to focus on and inspire children to become well-rounded individuals with a practical understanding of their culture.
While promoting positivity within the African American community, Whitaker emphasized that the Pop-Up Pictures With Santa Just Like Me event is for everyone.

“We aren’t just inviting children of color," she clarified. “We want the entire community to come out if they can.”

Digital photograph packages are priced as follows: one shot/$30, two shots/$45, and three shots/$60; only cash and Cashapp are accepted.

Honeycutt Recreation Center is located at 353 Devers St. in Fayetteville.
To learn more about the Jack & Jill Foundation of America, visit www.jackandjillfoundation.org/.

Hope Mills Chamber hosts annual Chili Cook-Off

20The Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Dirtbag Ales, welcomes all to the 4th Annual Chili Cook-Off as part of the Heroes Homecoming. And, if you don’t like chili, there is lots of fun planned for the entire family.

This year’s theme is “Heroes at Home,” and the activities recognize the contributions of service members and their families. There will be a parachute demonstration followed
by singing the national anthem. Many nonprofit organizations that cater to the military community will have booths.

For the kids, there will be a special area with crafts, stickers and patriotic coloring sheets. Since this is a Veterans Day event, the Chamber has partnered with 10 local photographers to take free portraits of military families. As for the chili, attendees can purchase “flight of chili” tickets to sample a variety for just $10. “Flight of chili” tickets includes 5 different chilis and the opportunity to vote on your favorite. If you want to sample all the chilis, tickets are $30.

There will be hot chilis and mild chilis. Everything from veggie chili to alligator chili and everything in between. Participants are encouraged to name their chili and decorate their table accordingly as presentation is everything. (Hint, hint) All entries will have a number and description card displayed that will include spice level, main ingredients and other interesting facts.

Tasting will take place between noon and 2 p.m., then votes will be tallied. The first place winner will receive $200, second place will receive $100, and third place will receive $50. All entrants are encouraged to invite their family and friends to come out to support their entries.
Casey Farris is the president of the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce. She said, “In 2021 we had 25 cooks enter the cook-off."

"At the end of the day, the top three chilis will be recognized with a special award," she said. "A portion of the profits will be donated to a local veteran nonprofit.”

Since this event is partnered with Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom, guests can also sample a local beer while they enjoy chili. In addition to their standard brews, Dirtbag Ales will be featuring Heroes Homecoming lager. For each pint of Heroes Homecoming lager sold, $1 will be donated to local organizations that serve military families.

This might be the 4th Annual Chili Cook-Off for the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce, but the Fayetteville area has been hosting the Heroes Homecoming since 2011. This is an appreciation to all veterans for their courage, sacrifice and everything they do to defend our country’s freedom.

Rebecca Freeman says, “As the executive director of the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce, I am thrilled with the number of sponsors and contestants we have this year. It is such an honor for the Chamber to be participating in Heroes Homecoming and to give back to our local veterans, too.”

Fred Cutter is a veteran, a member of the Chamber, and a sponsor for this year’s event. He mentions that “In an ideal world, the Chamber is the proxy between city government and the business community. My most significant blessing is the opportunity to serve a community of people I admire and consider friends.”

The 4th Annual Chili Cook-Off will take place Nov. 12 at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom located at 5435 Corporation Drive in Hope Mills. The event starts at 11 a.m. and ends when the chili runs out, which is estimated to be at about 5 p.m. To purchase chili tickets, visit www.hopemillsareachamber.com.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the Chili Cook-Off, contact the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce at 910-423-4314 or email them at HMCC@hopemillschamber.org
For the full Heroes Homecoming schedule of events, visit heroeshomecoming.com.

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