Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From the House

Bluffton Today

The response to last week’s column was simply overwhelming, particularly with regard to the passing of my brother, Tom. We are immensely grateful for all the kind words and stories about Tom and how he conducted himself in his civic life and in his business. Although our holiday was a little subdued, we are resolved to carry on in the spirit of thanksgiving, enjoying friends and family and all the pleasures, great and small, of living in this not-so-little-town. Thank you.

The official kick-off to the Christmas season is, of course, the amazing and spectacular Bluffton Christmas Parade. It is always held the first Saturday of December. This year, that is the third of December.

When Mary and I first attended the parade many years ago, we were so charmed, it kind of sealed the wisdom of our moving to Bluffton. These were obviously our kind of folks. At that time, Miss Babbie was the parade organizer, and as with most of her events, it was so well put together it seemed as if an interesting group of people just happened to show up at town hall at the same time and follow one another down Calhoun St. and around the corner down to Scott’s Grocery.

The Bluffton Christmas Parade is a bit more formalized now, an understandable and necessary consequence of just crazy popularity. Most years there are at least ten thousand spectators lining the route, oftentimes ten deep, not counting the little ones scurrying about to retrieve the tons of candy launched from the passing floats and vehicles.

The parade will leave Bluffton Town Hall around 11a.m. and follow Bridge St., turning right onto Calhoun St., taking May River Road to Pin Oak St. and finishing at Oscar Frazier Park. Folks will start lining the route early, so plan accordingly.

The Friday evening before the parade is also a special night with the lighting of the Town Hall Christmas Tree at 5 p.m., followed at 8 p.m. by the lighting of the Promenade Christmas Tree. In between, the Bluffton Old Town Merchant’s Society will again be having the “Light Up the Night” celebration. Businesses and art galleries will stay open late for an interesting shopping experience lit by the glow of some 400 luminaries. The “Holiday Trolley” will also be on hand to ferry shoppers and partiers around the Old Town area from 5 to 8. There will also be four or five bands stationed throughout the neighborhood to liven up the evening.

For the last few years, “Light Up the Night” has been an extremely successful and enjoyable event. After the galleries and shops close, a lot of folks like to patronize the restaurants and low-key bars situated in the historic district and Promenade. As always, be sure to have reservations for dinner and a designated driver for the bar scene. (Sorry, I can’t help myself—I’m a dad).

Every year, the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton and Beaufort Regional Chambers of Commerce do a great job of reminding us to “Shop Local.” Great events like “Light Up the Night” certainly make it easy and fun to patronize the local shops and galleries, especially in Old Town. It just makes sense to support the merchants that make the area so vibrant and inviting. But don’t forget that Shop Local is also about your insurance agent, and HVAC installer, and all the service people you count on, from doctors to landscapers. These are your neighbors and friends, as well as the folks whose success creates the jobs we need to grow our local economy. Spread the love—Shop Local.