WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College Foundation staff are gearing up for the 2021 Down East Holiday Show, and they’re hoping a return to the Greenville Convention Center will result in record attendance.
After last year’s show was moved online in the interest of health safety, this year’s fundraiser—the foundation’s 20th—will once again take place in person. All participants will still be required to wear facial masks and adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, but for PCC Foundation Executive Director Beth Sigmon, the inconvenience is minimal.
“We’ve done everything possible to generate revenue in support of Pitt Community College and its students, but the coronavirus certainly hasn’t made it easy,” Sigmon said. “We’ve canceled fundraisers, moved others to the virtual world, and even created new outdoor events in an effort overcome the limitations we’ve encountered as a result of the pandemic.”
Sigmon says organizing this year’s holiday show has been a significant undertaking but well worth it for the opportunity to welcome everyone back to the convention center for the first time since November 2019.
“The Down East Holiday Show has been our largest fundraiser each year since it began in 2002,” Sigmon said. “But it’s much more than just a fundraiser; we truly enjoy interacting with our vendors, holiday shoppers, show sponsors and the many volunteers who make it possible for us to even have a holiday show.”
Since the first Down East Holiday Show took place in 2002, the event has generated more than $1.4 million to benefit PCC students. The 2019 show generated nearly $143,000 for student scholarships and PCC educational activities. But things changed dramatically with the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020.
“Despite our best efforts to make last year’s event as similar to the previous 18 holiday shows that took place in person, it raised less than $11,000,” said PCC Vice President of Institutional Advancement Marianne Cox. “We’re hoping the opportunity to shop again in person will get people into the Christmas spirit and excited about the upcoming holiday season. I know our vendors are ready to serve them, and the PCC Foundation is eager to welcome them through the Greenville Convention Center doors.”
The show opens Nov. 4 with a special, adult-only shopping event—meaning no children or strollers and less crowding—that takes place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 for this special event, which will a drawing sponsored by Bob 93.3 for a Coach Willow shoulder bag and small wristlet in black.
Local radio personality Henry Hinton will air his “Talk of the Town” program live from the Greenville Convention Center on Nov. 5. Show hours that Friday are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Doors will open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday’s hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission each day is $10 per person and free for children 10 and under.
Sigmon says shoppers can expect to find more than 190 vendors participating in the show. They’ll have a wide variety of items for sale, she said, including holiday decorations, accessories and home décor, wine and food items, clothing, and various services.
Free parking will be available outside the convention center, except for one section of the facility’s front parking lot that will be cordoned off as “priority parking.” A $10-fee (cash only) will be charged to park there.
Several food trucks will be parked outside of the convention center each day of the show, Sigmon said, adding that PCC art students will be creating a chalk Christmas mural in front of the building throughout the weekend. Santa Clause will be on hand for several hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday for parents to bring their cameras and take photographs of their children posing with Old Saint Nick, and a Grinch cutout will offer an additional photo option.
“We consider the holiday show an eastern North Carolina tradition, and we’re continually striving to put on the best event possible,” Sigmon said.
Tickets to the show will be available for purchase at the door each day of the event. To purchase them online in advance and for more show details, including Santa’s hours and a list of vendors, visit www.downeastholidayshow.com.