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The holiday season was officially ushered in Friday night as Christmas on the Avenue got underway with events at Centennial Park and the 1026 Urban Greenspace about three blocks away.

Long lines formed at Centennial Park so parents could have the opportunity to take photos of their children with Santa in the gazebo and lines also formed for hayrides taking visitors to the 1026 site.

At the 1026 site, children wrote letters to Santa and placed them in a mailbox while many Roanoke Rapids High School students preparing for a dance that evening used the big joy sign as a backdrop for their pre-dance photos.

Christmas on the Avenue, which was sponsored by Roseburg Forest Products, served as the lead-in to Sunday’s Christmas Parade, which is being sponsored by Halifax Linen.

Before the two girls of Roseburg employees pushed a button to light the park Christmas tree, Parks and Recreation Director John Simeon told the crowd at Centennial Park, “This special holiday weekend would not be possible without two very special local companies. This great holiday weekend that we’re having is because of them.”

Simeon first introduced Chase McElheney and his grandfather Charles of Halifax Linen.

“Halifax Linen has been serving this community since 1946,” Chase said. “Halifax Linen was created by this guy standing next to me, my grandfather, Charles Preston McElheney Jr. I’m so grateful to become the third generation of this company and to serve this community for many years to come. On behalf of Halifax Linen Service we wish everyone here a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”

Simeon then introduced Adam Reed, who is the plant manager for the sawmill Roseburg is building in Weldon.

“Our resources team has been here since 2017 and we’re very excited to continue and grow our business inside of this community,” Reed said. “One of the sayings we have inside of Roseburg is making lives better from the ground up and we couldn’t think of a better community to partner with to continue our ongoing tradition of growing trees and making them into a value added product.”