Just about everywhere in America this time of the year, you see Christmas lights and Santa Claus, Christmas trees and nativity scenes. But just about everywhere also has its own spin on the holiday season. Here in Rocky Mount, NC, the restored Mill Village has celebrated Christmas with a couple of special events.
A short history lesson: Rocky Mount Mills, built in 1816, was the second cotton mill built in the state. It thrived for well over a century and a half, but when textile manufacturing moved overseas, the mill began to decline, closing in 1996.
The mill and the surrounding campus sat idle and decaying until the whole kit and caboodle was bought by Capitol Broadcasting Company in 2007. Since then, the buildings have been reclaimed, restored, and repurposed into craft breweries, restaurants, offices, and lofts. As a bonus, the cutest tiny houses were brought in for overnight visitors.
Back to Christmas at the Mill Village, as the folks in Rocky Mount call it. The Chamber held its 115th Anniversary Christmas Ball in the Power House. That night, my husband and I wandered through the old cotton plant with its refinished wood floors and exposed brick walls and pipes. It was magical.
The next evening, the Mill Village hosted a family event, The Lighting of the Tower.
Before witnessing the grand finale when the lights came on, my grandson and I enjoyed a horse-drawn wagon ride around the campus. It was free, as was the whole evening–well, not counting the one holiday craft beer purchased by Grandma.
Another unique local Christmas experience can be found right outside the Rocky Mount city limits. Smith’s Red and White Grocery hires talented artist Jimmy Craig Womble each year to paint Christmas scenes on the store windows. They’re so beautiful I hate to think they’ll be scraped off after Christmas.
Inside the store is equally festive. Yes, this is a giant Santa next to a fully decorated Christmas tree and, yes again, there’s a train circling on a track. And this is not the only Christmas display–or train–in the store. I’m on sensory overload–in a good way, of course–when I go in to shop and find myself buying all sorts of Christmas candy like those double-dipped chocolate covered peanuts in the display case below.
If you’re from the Rocky Mount area, I hope you’ve experienced some of what makes Christmas special here. If you live somewhere else, I’m sure your hometown has a unique holiday celebration or tradition. Let me know what it is. I love to hear about all the different ways to celebrate Christmas!