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Winterville Wonderland cold but a hit

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A.G. Cox Middle School band members Andrew Williamson, left, and Zack Frable play the French horn and saxophone during the Winterville Wonderland festivities on Thursday.

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The Times Leader

Thursday, December 6, 2018

WINTERVILLE — More than 300 filled the Winterville Wonderland Thursday at the Market on the Square.

The annual Christmas tree lighting, which features the reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” performances by local choruses and bands, a tree lighting and Santa, expanded to include craft and food vendors, photo booths and music.

“I think it’s a wonderful Winterville Wonderland and a great expansion on an existing event to celebrate the holidays as a town,” said Winterville Parks and Recreation director Evan Johnston.

Winterville’s economic developer Stephen Penn added, “It’s a great turnout, and a perfect space for this market. We are thankful to the 40 vendors who came tonight.”

The consensus among vendors: It’s cold. Temperatures dropped into the low 40s Thursday as the Wonderland got attendees into the holiday spirit — the cold definitely helped make “winter” wonderland feel like winter for sure.

“I like the market, it is just cold. It fits its name,” said Olive Barnett, who ran a Mary Kay vendor booth.

Nicole Murray and Sharon Harding of The Must Haves sold Christmas ornaments, wreaths, candy jars and more. Proceeds from their sales benefited the HELPS Ministry, a Winterville-based organization through Rebuild Christian Center Church that provides services to children and adults.

Mindy Stoica serves as the secretary of Winterville Baptist Church, located just across the street from the market, so stopping by after work was very convenient. She came to the Market on the Square events in the summer and was thrilled to hear the town expanded it into the winter months.

She and her husband Alex perused nesting dolls being sold by Amma Belousova, the owner of Russian Memories.

It was Belousova’s first time at the market as a vendor. She enjoyed meeting the community.

Also first to the market were Crafty Crafts owners Heather Jackson and Tomasiena Ross. Jackson, who lives in Winterville, heard about the market and asked Ross if she wanted to create items to sell.

Ross, who lives in Kinston, had a tree fall in her yard when Hurricane Florence hit in September. The two women repurposed the tree into snowmen and Santas.

Ross is the woodworker and Jackson is the painter.

“We share a love of crafting. It was fun,” Ross said.

In the midst of the Wonderland, children were on a quest to find Santa. Sitting by a Christmas tree and fireplace, Santa listened to each child’s wish list.

Christopher Walker, 3, of Winterville asked for a remote control truck after he shook Santa’s hand.

Running up to Santa, Aiden Becklund, 12, of Winterville blurted out, “Hey Santa, I know I was on the naughty list, but I’m better now.”

Santa told Becklund, “It’s OK, buddy. Everyone gets a second chance.”

Ayden Hurd, 5, of Winterville asked Santa to bring him a pair of roller skates and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle coloring book. He also asked for a credit card.

“A credit card?” Santa asked. “Well, I don’t know if that is possible, but the other two wishes seem reasonable.”

Hurd seemed OK with Santa’s reasoning, and gave him a hug before returning to his mother’s vendor booth for Paparazzi, a jewelry line.

Kimaree Hurd is an independent seller for Paparazzi. She recently relocated from Jamesville to Winterville, and thought the Winterville Wonderland would be a great opportunity to meet the community.

Roughly 75 minutes into the Wonderland, visitors gathered around the Christmas tree to enjoy performances by the Creekside Elementary School fifth grade chorus, W.H. Robinson Elementary School fourth and fifth grade chorus, and A.G. Cox Middle School band.

Winterville Mayor Pro-tem Mark Smith read “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” followed by the tree lighting. Attendees enjoyed a reception hosted by the town, and nine lucky children won toys in a raffle, including Nishon Little, Khyla Tabard, Azariah Tabard, Isaac Danielson, Angel Yelverton, Caden Pierce, Autumn Smith, Maci Hafen and Jacob Horvath.

The town’s Christmas parade is at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Wonderland Market will reopen at noon that day featuring 50 vendors and food trucks.