City reins in holiday spirit

For 27 years, Claremont and its residents celebrated Christmas with its annual Christmas Parade throughout the city.
The parade continues this year, but Claremont is adding something new.
City leaders and several residents organized Old Time Christmas in Claremont, which is a celebration of charitable giving and the holiday spirit.
Participants in Claremont's Old Time Christmas can purchase Christmas trees, enjoy hot food and beverages and ride in a horse-drawn carriage throughout various historic locations in the city.
"Our hope is that people will come to Claremont for their Christmas trees, have that traditional cup of hot chocolate while enjoying the feeling of an old-fashioned holiday season, small town acquaintances and reminiscing of Christmas pasts," said Claremont Mayor Dave Morrow.
Proceeds from Christmas tree will benefit the Bunker Hill High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes. BHHS' Math Club will provide baked goods for sale.
"We want to get back to that old-time feel of Christmas," said Doug Barrick, Claremont city manager.
The event resulting from the city's desire for an old-time Christmas reflected the collaboration of several different organizations.
Shari Smith, owner of Working Title Farm, offered to hold the event at her farm, located at 4694 Depot St. in Claremont.
"I love Claremont," Smith said. "I love the people. I love the city. It's a great place."
Smith is an equestrian who opens her farm to other riders as they tour and compete across the country.
"It's a farm atmosphere with rabbits and horses and dogs," Smith said of the farm. "We sit down at a table and eat. It's not like (riders) have to stay in a hotel room and eat fast food."
Smith will also help with the carriage rides throughout the city, which will be available Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. from Nov. 27 through Dec. 19.
Those interested in carriage rides are asked to call Working Title Farm before arriving to ensure availability.
Also assisting carriage rides is Gail Wartner, owner and operator of Rising Hope Farm in Claremont. Wartner will bring her clydesdale horse to help draw carriage riders through the city.
Rising Hope Farm, a nonprofit organization, provides therapeutic horse riding and other services for people in the area living with special needs. Proceeds from carriage rides through Claremont will benefit Rising Hope Farm.
"We wanted to be part of the community and enhance the Christmas spirit in the area," Wartner said. "I just thought it was a great idea."
All Claremont residents are encouraged to participate by adding holiday decorations and lights to their houses to transform the entire city into a winter wonderland.
"We all are hopeful that our fellow citizens will also participate in all-out decorating for this first-time event," Morrow said.
As carriage riders travel throughout the city, they will vote on their favorite home. Votes will be tallied, and the home with the most votes will receive a prize from the city.
"We've always had a strong tradition of people decorating their yards," Barrick said. "And we want that tradition to continue this year."
Carriage rides will travel throughout Yount, Old Catawba, Lookout, North Depot, Anderson, Baker and Main streets in Claremont. All city residents, however, are encouraged to decorate their homes, regardless of where their house is located within Claremont.
The city's annual Christmas Parade is scheduled for Dec. 4 at 3 p.m.