One of the main benefits of living in the town of Harrisburg is the sense of community felt between residents.
The town administration and many residents are intent on preserving this attribute as the town continues to grow.
Due to that growth, for the first time, the town of Harrisburg administration felt it necessary to add a full-time Parks and Recreation director position for the planning and oversight of programs for residents of all ages.
Last January, Foster Hughes was selected and hired for the position.
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Hughes came to Harrisburg with 20 years of Parks & Recreation experience. He was the former director of the Parks and Recreation for the city of Asheboro.
"The most exciting part of accepting this position was that I would have the ability to build the department from scratch and grow it into a full-service department," said Hughes.
First big step
The first major project Hughes undertook was merging the former Harrisburg Youth Association athletic programs into the recreation department. Harrisburg Youth Association served more than 2,700 children in year-round sports programs and was previously run by a volunteer group of residents.
"This was the single largest project of the past year, but, overall, I have been pleased with how things have gone," said Hughes.
In addition to the sports programs, the department has assumed the responsibility of parks and grounds maintenance, the annual two-day Fourth of July and Halloween events and has begun to add a variety of other programs for residents including, trips, yoga and crocheting classes. Additional programs and classes will be added in the future.
This Friday, the town of Harrisburg kicks off the holiday season with the "Christmas in Harrisburg Tree Lighting Celebration."
The event is presented by Harrisburg Parks and Recreation Department and will take place at Veteran's Park, located behind Harrisburg Town Hall (4100 Main St., Harrisburg) on Friday from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Hughes said the event will be larger than previous years and offer more than it has in the past.
He invites all residents to come and share a time of fun and fellowship. Hughes has added several new interactive events to the evening.
Santa begins celebration
The celebration will begin with Santa's arrival by firetruck to light the 30-foot Christmas tree that is decorated with more than 10,000 lights. Santa will spend time talking with the children and will give them treats.
A live nativity scene will be provided courtesy of Harrisburg United Methodist Church.
Bellafonte Presbyterian Church choir, Sugar Creek Quartet, Reflection choral group, Believe singing trio, Kelly O'Shea's Performing Arts and Next Step Dance Studio, will provide entertainment.
Free horse-drawn wagon rides are available as well as hot chocolate and cider, courtesy of the town of Harrisburg, while supplies last. A variety of arts and crafts vendors will be on site for Christmas shopping.
Don't miss the gingerbread house contest and display.
Those interested in participating in the contest can visit the Harrisburg Parks and Recreation Web site for additional information.
The evening will conclude with a community singalong of holiday carols.
The Christmas in Harrisburg Tree Lighting Celebration promises to offer something for everyone.
For information, call 704-455-5614 or visit www.HarrisburgParksandRecreation.com.