Van Wyck kicks off Christmas

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Parade Saturday; Lighting of the Way on Sunday

By Julie Graham

In its first year as a town, Van Wyck will be ringing in the holiday spirit this weekend with a Christmas parade at noon Saturday and candle-lighting worship event beginning at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
The parade will celebrate South Carolina’s youngest town with Mayor Sean Corcoran and town council members Bob Doster, Xavier Kee, Richard Vaughan and Cassandra Watkins as grand marshals.
The float was built by Vaughan, a Van Wyck native sworn into office a few weeks ago. Humbled by his new position and promising plenty of Christmas spirit aboard the float, he wanted to help mark the first Van Wyck Christmas parade as a newly incorporated town.
“We are now officially a town,” Vaughan said. “It’s history being made.”
The ninth annual parade, organized by Pat Oglesby and the Van Wyck Community Development Club, begins at the Van Wyck Post Office at the corner of Old Hickory and Steele Hill roads, and follows Old Hickory to the Van

Wyck Community Center. Santa and Mrs. Claus are the grand finale.
The parade is open to anyone who would like to participate, Oglesby said, and many throw candy. From the Indian Land High School marching band and car clubs to horseback riders and church floats, there are about 40 entries, she said.
“It’s a fun parade,” said Oglesby, who enjoys seeing the entrants’ creativity.
After the parade, there is a reception where Santa meets children, and barbecue is sold by Wilbur’s Last Ride BBQ of Lancaster.

Lighting of the Way
During Christmastime, the streets of Van Wyck are lined with hundreds of candle poles as churches of various denominations come together to celebrate the Advent season.
In 1993, Van Wyck began the tradition of The Lighting of the Way, modeled after an event in a historic town near Niagara Falls, N.Y. Claudia Thompson, chairwoman of the Van Wyck Woman’s Club event, visited Niagara on the Lake and brought the idea home.
“It was there that I saw the residents, after having a celebration on the street and all the shops were open, they lit candles and walked, singing Christmas carols, to the nursing home to carol to the residents,” Thompson said.
Van Wyck al-tered the event to visit churches. Hundreds of candles are lit along the road as participants travel from church to church to hear short sermons, sing Christmas hymns and enjoy other Christ-themed programs.
Thompson and other organizers regard the multi-faith lighting event as an important coming together of the community to experience each other’s faith and hospitality.
The lighting opens with songs by the choir of Gold Hill AME Zion Church and welcome and prayer at the crossroads of Old Hickory and Steele Hill roads.
The event then takes participants through four Van Wyck churches – Van Wyck Presbyterian, Van Wyck United Methodist, Trinity Presbyterian and White Oak AME Zion.
A special tradition to Thompson is when the lively choir and musicians at White Oak give it their all in a poignant rendition of the African-American spiritual song “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” The song is usually sung last when all participants of different faiths have succumbed to the joyous atmosphere and stand together, clapping and swaying to the beat.