Christmas in the Grove draws crowds to frolic on fake snow

Published 12:10 am Sunday, December 18, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

CHINA GROVE — In southern Rowan, 45-degree weather can’t get in the way of a good sledding session.

For the second-straight year, China Grove drew large crowds of people to its Christmas in the Grove event. Like last year, the town coated a portion of a hill on Swink Street with a slab of fake snow for sledding and organized other events in downtown for visitors. Event organizers said the stretch of fake snow was slightly larger than the prior year.

China Grove residents Haydenn and Hunnter Polston were among the first sledders to zip down the icy slab. Like others that would follow, the pair toppled off of their plastic sled grinning from ear to ear. On their first try, the Polston pair only made it halfway down the hill before falling off. They’d immediately run back in line to give it another shot.

The boys’ mother Lavanna Polston laughed as they rushed to get back in line.

“This is awesome,” she exclaimed. “This is the south and we never see snow, or at least not enough to go sledding.”

China Grove’s festivities kicked off at 5 p.m. As the night continued, the long line for sledding grew to include hundreds of people.

For some, it was their first time sledding in snow.

Other attendees of Christmas in the Grove were content to avoid the long sledding line. This year’s events were expanded to include more than a sledding hill and a few vendors. A few dozen yards away, grandmother Paulette Wilson, daughter Tiffaney Reiszel and granddaughter Felicity Reiszel posed for a picture with Frosty the snowman.

In addition to snowmen and fake snow, downtown China Grove was also filled with smell of fresh-cooked food being sold on Swink Street and the sounds of horses’ hooves plopping against the pavement while carriage rides moved down Main Street. Music played at the China Grove Roller Mill and Santa Claus listened to Christmas wishes in Hanna Park.

The town capped the night off with a fireworks display.

China Grove Mayor Lee Withers said his wife Kelly likened it to a Hallmark movie.

“It’s just a good time and this is what it’s all about,” Withers said. “I don’t know that life in a small town gets any better than this. There’s no better time of the year to do this than the Christmas season.”

After two successful years, Withers said the town will likely continue Christmas in the Grove for the foreseeable future. Withers said he hopes all of China Grove’s downtown restaurants and shops will stay open in future years during the Christmas in the Grove event.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.