Just 12 days and counting


Randy Riley - Contributing columnist



In just twelve days Santa will be ready to begin his rounds — it will be Christmas Eve.

The sleigh will be filled to overflowing. Magic will fill the air. The cold night air will be ready for Santa’s great annual adventure.

He will soon magically fill stockings, stack presents, slip down chimneys and appear before our Christmas trees. He will drink the milk and eat the cookies we left him. He may stand under the mistletoe that parents, earlier in the evening, used for holiday smooching.

Sleep will be elusive for children of all ages.

The reindeer will be harnessed and ready to fly. Dasher, Dancer and Prancer will be ready to dash, dance and prance. Vixen and Comet will be ready to blaze across the night sky like a real comet. Cupid will fly straight like one of Cupid’s arrows. Donner and Blitzen will be harnessed directly behind Rudolph.

Regardless of the snow, the fog or the mist, the glow from Rudolph’s nose will light the way to your roof and mine.

After nearly a year of waiting and anticipation, the season of Christmas is upon us. Whew. It’s about time. Waiting. Avoiding being naughty and focusing on being nice isn’t always easy. Now, with Thanksgiving safely behind us, we can really begin to enjoy our Christmas holiday. We can feast and be merry.

For many us, the holidays begin with Thanksgiving and end with New Years. I can live with that. We start with the feasting and family gatherings that make Thanksgiving special. Then the Holidazzle Parade brings light, joy and laughter. At the end of the parade, Santa is brought directly into downtown Wilmington.

This past weekend, the community was presented with a gift that makes the holiday season truly ring with joy, laughter and smiles – it was the annual Murphy Christmas Show.

This year, the artistic mind of Timothy Larrick and the choreography of Cassie Smith brought our favorite Christmas cartoons to life on the giant TV screen that was the stage of the Murphy Theatre. Throughout the evening, the stage was filled with dozens of talented children, youth and adults — singing, dancing and bringing that special spirit of holiday joy to all of us.

One of the most special stars of the show was the Murphy Theatre herself. For being nearly 100 years old, she looked vital and full of life. I love being in the Murphy Theatre on any occasion, but being there during the Christmas holiday is a true blessing.

When the Murphy Kids filed onto the stage, smiles filled the audience. The pride felt by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles was real and, at times, overwhelming. A tear welled up in my eye as Danni and Amanda sang and danced. It’s a precious moment when our grandchildren are able don bright, festive Christmas costumes and entertain us from the Murphy stage. It was special.

I will forever be amazed by the depth of talent that fills our community.

The Clinton-Massie Falconettes could teach the Radio City Rockettes a thing or two about the kick-line. Their high kicks were staggering. They were precise and artistic in all of their dance moves.

The Wilmingtones, from Wilmington High School, sang and danced both on the stage and in the aisles. Their harmony was spot-on. They hit the mark with every dance routine. They are marvelous entertainers.

Besides her duties as Executive Director of the Murphy Theatre, Maretta Alden also teaches several excellent young violinists. Maretta and her students filled the theater with music from our favorite holiday cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Smiles, laughter and sheer joy accompanied the Fancy Free Cloggers every time they took the stage. Jim Kimmerly, a veteran and survivor of Pearl Harbor, answered the old question, “Do you quit dancing because you get old, or do you get old because you quit dancing?”

At over 90 years old, Jim defies his age and still clogs with the youngsters of the group. His dancing helps keep him young. He is an inspiration to all.

Watching the Murphy Christmas show, and being part of the show, has become an annual tradition for our family. Watching friends, neighbors and family members put the show together is thrilling. We are so proud of all the Murphy Singers, The Murphy Choir and The Murphy Kids. A big thank you to our daughter-in-law, Becky, and to granddaughters, Amanda and Danni for beautifully representing the Riley family.

None of it would be possible without the talent and determination of Timothy and the entire cast and crew of the Murphy Theatre. Charlie Murphy would be proud.

Now, we are definitely in the mood for Christmas. Come on Santa. We’re ready.

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.

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Randy Riley

Contributing columnist