The making of a community

Brian Bloom Regional publisher -

Terry Parker, Janice Creed, Carol Cough Nour and Cynthia Womble come from diverse backgrounds. Some are natives, born, raised and forever entrenched in Laurinburg. Others are outsiders, newcomers – to some North Carolinians, interlopers – who fell in love with the small town living and wanted to make their community a better place to live.

Thus, the creation of Laurinburg’s season “Tis the Season” Christmas Shoppe.

The women talked about their love of the community, about the need to reinvest in downtown, about giving residents something to be part of, to be proud of. They talked of creating tradition and how important the communities’ history was.

“Tis the Season” is a non-profit 501(c)(3) with a mission to use the retail sale of ornaments and trees, Knick knacks and toys to benefit the downtown holiday celebration.

Despite inclement weather a year ago, Laurinburg’s Community Christmas was a big hit. There was a live nativity and a Singing Christmas Tree. Trees lined Main Street sidewalks and wreaths adorned the doors of nearly 100 businesses. Local merchants got involved, decorating their store windows and the city joined in with lights adorning roof tops.

Volunteers numbered in the hundreds, from school groups to church choirs, including an unidentified elf who showed up out of nowhere to direct traffic into the store.

This is what communities all, both large and small. Communities are people coming together to share ideas and drive opportunity. Communities support the good and the bad and give based on faith that tomorrow will be better.

Sharon Nichols dodged two banquet tables along Rockingham’s historic downtown district, leaped over an extension cord, hesitated briefly as a car swept in front of her entering a parking lot and jogged up to me, hand extended and without so much as taking a breath explained the set-up to Rockingham’s downtown “Affair on the Square” Thursday evening.

Nichols, owner of Silver Cross Events, laughed when I exalted her endless energy.

“I used to run dance studios,” Nichols explained about her agile Barry-Sanders-like ability to maneuver around cars and kids as the downtown sidewalks began to fill with shoppers and window watchers. “I’m leaving now to teach a class in Southern Pines, otherwise I would stick around to help.”

Help is what Nichols does. It’s part of her event business sure, but it’s more than that. Moving from Atlanta to Rockingham is more than a change in geography, it’s a level of culture shock that often is difficult to overcome. Yet Nichols jumped right in, working with such events as “Affair on the Square,” the United Methodist’s “Holy Smoke,” “Christmas on the Square” and is working on area plant swap where gardeners and enthusiasts can share their botanical beauties.

Thursday night I got the opportunity to join dozens of other venders on Rockingham’s downtown district to tell our story and the strides we are making to give you a better newspaper. In the coming weeks we will be unveiling a new design, a dynamic magazine, special pages and an arts and entertainment calendar that’s as comprehensive as we can make it.

Like the women I mentioned above, I believe in being part of the community. I welcome your feedback, will be happy to speak to clubs and organizations and can’t wait for what tomorrow brings.

Brian Bloom is the regional publisher for The Laurinburg Exchange, The Richmond County Daily Journal and The Anson Record.

Brian Bloom Regional publisher Bloom Regional publisher