Holiday events don’t just happen

Published 3:34 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

For a town its size, Smithfield is blessed with an abundance of holiday events to entertain all ages.

A year after COVID-19 caused the cancellation of many events, our newspaper’s Community Calendar was jam-packed this year with Christmas celebrations. From signature events like Mistletoe Market and the Christmas Parade to smaller church-sponsored and civic club events, there’s been a holiday activity nearly every night of the week.

In a town as vibrant as Smithfield, there’s a risk that townsfolk might take the menu of festivities for granted. In reality, they continue to happen only because of the efforts of committed, hard-working volunteers and civil servants, who don’t get nearly enough recognition.

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We enjoyed Publisher Emeritus John Edwards’ Short Rows reflections last week on the colorful history of the Smithfield Christmas Parade, which rolled through Main and Grace streets again Saturday on an unseasonably warm December morning, delighting hundreds of families along its route. The spirit of the now-defunct Jaycees continues to inspire the parade, though the civic organization’s demise is a reflection of diminishing interest in community service over the past few decades. Fewer and fewer people are willing to roll up their sleeves and do volunteer work, putting many time-honored traditions at risk.

So we’re especially grateful to those who made this year’s parade a reality, including Connie Chapman and Judy Winslow of the Smithfield Isle of Wight Convention & Visitors Bureau. While they are paid civil servants, the support they give volunteer organizations is invaluable to the success of local events.

Among those is the volunteer-run 1750 Isle of Wight Courthouse organization, whose Colonial Christmas in Smithfield is one of the highlights of the holiday season. Dozens of volunteers give up the better part of a weekend during a time of the year when family obligations can be all-consuming. We appreciate them deeply.

The Horticulture Society of Smithfield also deserves a shout-out for the magical Christmas light display along Hayden’s Lane, which connects Main and Grace streets. The display will continue through Dec. 31, and we urge our readers to take a stroll down the lane after dark. It’s impressive.

If you know a volunteer who assisted with any of this year’s holiday events, be sure to say thank you and make a monetary contribution to their organization. And, if you’re so inclined, ask how to personally get involved next year.