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Ayden starts off season with Christmas town

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Elizabeth Land, 9, walks through a man-made blizzard on her way to talk to Santa Claus and Elsa the Snow Queen during Christmas Town in Ayden last week. She was not too picky, asking Santa to bring her whatever he thought she deserved.

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By Amber Revels-Stocks
The Times Leader

Thursday, December 6, 2018

AYDEN — Community leaders in Ayden transformed their downtown into Christmas Town last week to kick of the season and spread some joy, particularly among the younger citizens.

The event included a man-made snow storm with the help of snow blowers.

Genevive Pendergrast, 6, and friends enjoyed making snow angels and throwing snowballs at each other. Parents and town staff watched carefully to make sure no one got too cold.

After playing in the snow, kids walked through the tunnel of falling flakes to visit Santa Claus.

Five-year-old Jaevion Parker whispered his wish for toys to Santa.

“I asked for toys. If I tell you, I might not get them,” he explained. “That’s how the magic works.”

Miles Irons, 2, was too busy watching the snow fall to tell Santa he wanted toys. His parents had to tell the jolly old man themselves.

“It was great to meet Santa. I’ve seen him on TV before, but it was really great to sit on his lap,” said 5-year-old Nina Reifka. “I asked him for a Cosmo robot. It’s really expensive.”

River Butler, 4, asked for a piano.

“I don’t know how to play, but I want to learn. Santa will figure it out,” River said.

After visiting with Santa and Queen Elsa from “Frozen,” kids got to get their picture taken with a 10-foot-tall toy soldier from “The Nutcracker.”

“He’s really tall,” Addison Yates, 5, said as she gave him a fist bump. “He’s like twice Mom’s height.”

Her brother, Colton, 6, was too nervous to talk to the toy soldier, but said the stilt walker was “cool.” The Yates siblings both want skateboards for Christmas. Addison also wants a Baby Alive, a doll that cries and eats, and Colton wants an extra controller for his X-Box so he can play with his friends.

In front of Gwendy’s Goodies on Second Street, kids were given the opportunity to paint ornaments. Christian Proctor, 8, painted his ornament purple and gold, in honor of East Carolina University.

The town also offered hayrides. They gave visitors the chance to see the whole village, including the vendors located along Lee Street between Third and Second streets.

Before the town’s annual parade began, spectators lined the route. John and Cameron Moore kept the people at the grand stand entertained with sing-alongs and trivia games.

“I love Christmas parades,” John said. “It’s a great chance for the communities to get together and celebrate. They allow my son, Cameron, and I to have some fun, too.”

Hailey Clinton, 8, and Miley Taylor, 8, were stopped by Cameron and asked to share their wish lists.

“I want my baby sister,” Hailey said. “I’m going to have a real baby sister.”

Miley was not sure what she was going to ask for yet.

The Dunn Clowns also came down before the parade to clown around. They danced and took photos with crowd members, including Angela Haddock, one of the parade sponsors.

Jacob White, 7, asked Santa for a hover board, so he could race his friends.

“My favorite part is seeing my sister on the float,” he said of his sister who handed out candy for Stage of Grace dance studio.

Tristan Smith, 6, loved the Shriners.

“I love when they ride those cars,” she said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Her friend, Kaleb Carver, 7, asked Santa for Madden 2018, a football video game. His favorite football team is the Carolina Panthers, but he said he mostly plays as the New England Patriots.

The parade saw more than 5,000 spectators and lasted almost an hour. Participants came from across eastern North Carolina, including Ayden-Grifton and South Central High School marching bands, several fire departments and multiple Shrine clubs.

“We were very happy with the turnout this year,” said Laura Todd, the director of the Ayden Chamber of Commerce.

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