SNEADS FERRY | A roar of cheers filled the air Friday night in Sneads Ferry as Santa led the countdown to a holiday first for the village: the lighting of its own Christmas tree.

It was the first A Merry Ferry Christmas tree lighting ceremony and an evening to celebrate the season and the Sneads Ferry community.

And the event was well-received by the 100 or so members of the community who sipped hot chocolate and sang Christmas carols as they waited for Santa’s arrival and his signal to turn on the more than 2,500 lights on the 22-foot Christmas tree that now stands in a field near the Four Corners intersection.

“I think it’s great to have our own tree (here in Sneads Ferry) and to not have to go to Holly Ridge or Surf City,” said Sneads Ferry resident Alyssa Brandt, who attended with her husband and children; son, Grady, 10, and daughter, Megyn, this year’s Teen Miss Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festival.

“It gets your Christmas spirit up and is a nice way to kick off the season,” she added.

Roy and Diana Goldman of Holly Ridge waited for the tree lighting with their dog, Bella.

Roy Goldman is retired military and while they were stationed in Germany one of the things they enjoyed is the Christmas markets.

“All the little towns there had Christmas markets and that was something we enjoyed so we wanted to stop by,” Mr. Goldman said.

“It will be nice to drive by and see the tree all lit up,” Mrs. Goldman added.

Ray and Carol Evans organized the event and thanked the many people who helped make it possible, including the help to make the 22-foot tree a reality.

Mr. Evans said the tree was made to reflect Sneads Ferry’s heritage as a fishing village and is made from a shrimp net intertwined with more than 2,500 Christmas lights. The decoration at the top is a piece of tin that came off of Thurston’s Art Gallery, which is located in the oldest chapel in Sneads Ferry.

Ray and Carol Evans have transformed to Santa and Mrs. Claus each Christmas for the past 10 years, decorating their home and inviting area families to stop by to see Santa.

Mr. Evans said that when he found out from long-time residents that Sneads Ferry had never had a village Christmas tree he decided to take on the task to spread a little more Christmas cheer.

It is an idea he had been thinking about for some time but decided this was the year it needed to be done. Hurricane Florence, he said, has impacted many in Sneads Ferry and the event is a way to help people get their minds off the storm and come together to celebrate.

“We decided this year to push to get it done,” he said. “There are still people feeling the effects of the storm and this is a way to bring people together and enjoy the evening.”

Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 920-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.