• 63°

Open house gathers community

More than two dozens friends and family members gathered at the Municipal Building in Drakes Branch on Sunday to enjoy an annual tradition — the Drakes Branch Open House.

The open house is estimated to have taken place each holiday for approximately 20 years, Town Mayor Denise Pridgen said.

Participants enjoyed food, punch and a raffle in which people could win jewelry, a weather thermometer, a palm massager and perfumes.

Children got to visit with Santa Claus and received a stocking full of treats and candy canes.

For some kids and a few infants, it was their first visit with Santa.

Pridgen said the event gives an opportunity for people to come together.

“It’s mostly fellowship with the neighbors and friends,” Pridgen said. “That is my main intention with the event.”

This is Van Adams’ third year as St. Nick. He said the chance to bring smiles to kids’ faces has been meaningful for him. He spoke about a woman last year who appeared to have cognitive disabilities. He interacted with her, saying no one is too old to enjoy the holiday spirit.

“To interact with children and the parents as well, I enjoy that,” Adams said about his role as Santa Claus.

Rich Williams, Town of Drakes Branch, said he enjoys seeing friends and family and sees it as an annual event worth looking forward to.

“It’s such a wonderful celebration to bring people in the town together to talk about old times,” Williams said. “I look forward to this event every year.”

Vice Mayor Roscoe Eubanks said the event offers a way for town leadership and council members to thank town employees and citizens.

“The town is doing this also to show gratification, thanks to their participation during the year, to employees, town council and just good (town) employees,” Eubanks said.