Up & Coming Weekly

December 26, 2018

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 9 of 28

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM DECEMBER 26, 2018-JANUARY 1, 2019 UCW 9 e 26th annual New Year's Day Black- eyed Pea Dinner at the Crown Expo Center on Jan. 1, which runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., is free and open to the public. "All are welcome," said Lee Warren, Cumberland County's register of deeds and principal or- ganizer of this event. "If you have 10 people in from out of town, bring them. ere is no charge, and we want everyone to feel welcome." Community, tradition and gratitude will be the special ingredients in 2019's dinner. Friends, neighbors, families and new faces are invited to gather together to enjoy a traditional Southern New Year's Day meal of black-eyed peas, collards, sweet potatoes and good ol' Southern barbecue. "2019's dinner marks the 26th year we've been doing this," said Warren. "is year's dinner will be special because we are dedi- cating it to all of the first responders and volunteers who helped during the hurricanes. We want them to know how grateful we are." According to legend, when Union soldiers raided Confederate food supplies, they took everything but the black-eyed peas because they believed the peas were only animal fodder. Southerners knew better, and eating the peas helped them survive through the winter. e peas became symbolic of luck. Black-eyed peas were also a staple food in the black community. So, when the Emancipation Proc- lamation went into effect on the first day of January in 1863, peas featured large in those celebratory meals. Tradition has it that, henceforward, black- eyed peas should always be eaten on Jan. 1. Between 2,500 and 3,000 meals are served at the New Year's Day dinner at the Crown each year. Experience has taught Warren and his volunteers how much food to prepare. "When New Year's Day falls on a Friday or a Monday," said Warren, "many people take advantage of the long weekend and go out of town, so attendance is less. If the holi- day falls on a Sunday, we get more people because folks stop by on their way home from church." On-site meal prep begins early so that ladies from the Cumberland County Schools system can begin serving at 11 a.m. Diners enjoy background gospel music and good conversation and fellowship along with the delicious food. Meals are served until 2 p.m. Like all good cooks, Warren and his all-volunteer kitchen staff clean up as they go. "Once the collards are in the cooker," Warren said, "we start washing and sanitizing." Most years, they're ready to turn out the lights and head home an hour or so after the last meal is served. A bit of folklore advises that what you do on New Year's Day, you will do all year long. Taking this advice to heart, when we come together as a community on the first day of 2019 to share a traditional meal with gratitude for the heroes in our midst, we're placing our bets that the year ahead will be filled with a sense of community, tradition and gratitude that prospers us all. Enjoy a free, traditional New Year's Day dinner at the Crown by PRUDENCE MAINOR EVENTS PRUDENCE MAINOR, Contributing Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com 910-484-6200. Between 2,500 and 3,000 meals are served at the New Year's Day dinner at the Crown each year. First Day Hikes began in North Carolina more than 40 years ago with the inaugural First Day Hike at Eno River State Park in Durham. Today, park rangers lead more than 400 First Day Hikes in all 50 states, including hikes in every North Caro- lina state park. ere is also one in Spring Lake. e Carver's Creek State Park First Day Hike is set for Jan. 1 at 11 a.m., and it is free to attend. e First Day Hike initiative is promoted by America's state parks and the National Association of State Parks Directors. e program is part of an effort to showcase the state park systems, familiar- izing people with activities available to them close to home, usually at no cost. It also encourages healthy lifestyles, family time and year-round use of the country's parks. State Park Ranger Colleen Bowers oversees the First Day Hikes at Carvers Creek State Park. She said they try to offer a variety of monthly hikes to encourage people of all ages to participate. ere are three options for the First Day Hikes. e 3-mile History Hike teaches hikers about the history of Carver's Creek and allows access to areas of the park normally closed to the public. e 2-mile Nature Hike guides participants through the diminishing longleaf pine forest, teaching them about the longleaf ecosystem and its importance. e 1-mile Hansel and Gretel Hike is geared to- ward younger hikers, with participants following a "bread crumb" trail of laminated crumb signs with an activity or nature quote at each stop and a clue leading to the next "crumb." Participants in any of the hikes can get park stickers, bracelets and pins. e park opened in September of 2013, and the initial First Day Hike on Jan.1, 2015, was attended by close to 50 hikers. While general attendance at Carvers Creek State Park decreased after Hurricane Matthew damaged a dam and the 100-acre mill- pond at the park in 2016, attendance at the First Day Hikes has continually grown, primarily due to increased publicity of the event and the variety of hikes offered, according to Bowers. Bowers added that she felt the turnout for First Day Hikes was a good indicator of how well the program has been received. "It is definitely suc- cessful as seen by the number of participants," she said. "It gets people excited to get out and take part in park hikes and acts as an incentive to start and keep their New Year's resolutions." Visitors who participate in the North Carolina State Parks 100-Mile Challenge can add First Day Hike miles to their 100-mile Challenge totals. e 100-Mile Challenge encourages North Carolinians to walk, hike, run, bike, paddle, roll, ride or skate anywhere in the state's great outdoors to accu- mulate 100 miles, earning prizes along the way. To learn more about the 100-mile challenge, visit www.nc100miles.org. First Day hikers are encouraged to bring plenty of drinking water, dress appropriately for the weather and wear shoes/boots suited for the type of hike they plan to do. Most parks allow pets to accompany hikers, provided they are on a leash. Check the regulations on the specific parks' pages at www.ncparks.gov. Hikers are also asked to be aware of changing weather conditions as some events could be canceled due to inclement weather. Learn more about Carvers Creek State Park and its First Day Hikes by visiting www.ncparks.gov/carv- ers-creek-state-park or by calling 910-436-4681. Make First Day Hikes a New Year's Day tradition by CINDY ANDRESS Carvers Creek State Park in Spring Lake hosted its initial First Day Hike in 2015. CINDY ANDRESS Contributing Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com 910-484-6200.

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