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A DOWNTOWN CHRISTMAS: ADDC event draws crowds

Chilly temperatures didn’t deter guests from attending the 26th annual Albemarle Downtown Christmas event on Friday evening.

Free and paid activities, displays and goods drew crowds to the streets as snow machines blew faux flakes into the air. Multiple streets were blocked off for the event.

On Main Street, Nathan Moran, owner of Artisan Ice Sculptures in Charlotte, crafted a turkey and a nutcracker from blocks of ice.

Nathan Moran, owner of Artisan Ice Sculptures, sculpts a turkey from an ice block.

This was Moran’s second time doing a display at the Albemarle event. He has sculpted ice for 15 years.

Nearby, the Albemarle Police Department sold baked goods to benefit the Holiday Heroes program, which will treat some children to a meal and shopping trip for the holidays.

The Albemarle branch of the Stanly County Public Library teamed up with the Stanly County Partnership for Children, Albemarle Parks and Recreation and United Way of Stanly County to offer free activities for families in a warm environment.

Downstairs, the Partnership and Parks and Rec helped children decorate pinecones and Christmas ornaments, coating plastic hearts, stars or balls in colorful paint. Upstairs, children could watch a movie and color small Rudolph coloring books. Some sat with United Way members to write wish lists for their community and personal wish lists to Santa, including dreams for community safety, general politeness, hopes for friends and more on their lists.

Boy Scouts sold soup while some downtown shops, Glory Beans and Off the Square remained open to customers. Horse carriage rides were offered for free on First Street. On the same road, members of The Gathering offered free hot chocolate and coffee to thaw out visitors to the church while “Polar Express” played in the lobby.

Billy and Megan Hinson, of Mount Gilead, drove to Albemarle to attend the event with their young daughters, Clara and Rae. It was their first time attending the event. The family was enjoying time together after Billy had published his first children’s book, “Farmer Joe and Snake,” on Amazon the day before.

“We thought it was really neat,” Megan said. “I’m from Charlotte, so it felt like a taste of a bigger city. I wish they’d do it every weekend with food trucks and things. We enjoyed it.”

The Stanly County Pageant winners were in attendance. Skyler Stiles, 8, and McKenzie Clontz, 12, the 2019 Carolina Princesses, squeezed in a visit to Santa, joining many other families who stopped for a photo with Saint Nick.

Near the end of the event, 2019 Miss Stanly County Lauren Egan and 2019 Miss Stanly County Outstanding Teen Cassidy Stoltenberg sang Christmas songs by the Albemarle Police Department.

Lauren Egan, the 2019 Miss Stanly County, performs Christmas songs.

The Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation hosts the Albemarle Downtown Christmas event each year.

Imari Scarbrough is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News and Press.