How do you get a whole town to decorate for Christmas?

In the little town of McAdenville, NCeverybody decorates for Christmas. Everybody.

McAdenville Lights

Lights come on at one home in town just a few minutes before sunset…

McAdenville, which calls itself “Christmas Town USA,” expends serious effort trimming town-owned trees, lamp posts, and signs with Christmas garland and lights every December. But, if you ever get a chance to visit, you’ll notice one thing that makes the annual light display truly stand out: everybody in town gets on board.

Even in a small city with a population of only around 600 residents, you’d expect there’d be at least one Grinch. There’d have to be that one guy that’s going “I ain’t doin’ that again…” Or, worse still, the one guy who decides that he needs to fill his yard with aliens, dead reindeer, or messages about how the government has screwed him over. Yet, in McAdenville, every house and yard is trimmed with picturesque red, white, and green lights. It all looks so classy!

So how do they get everybody to participate? And how do they keep it looking classy? Is it some draconian Christmas ordinance? Is it the light police? Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

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What does a real sword fight look like?

Hollywood movies are filled with sword fights that look both hilariously fake and also extremely cool. But are they realistic? Most of us would assume the answer is no… but, having never seen an actual sword fight, it’s kind of hard to know. I decided it might be interesting to find out.

Sword Fight

A refereed saber duel… It’s all fun and games ’til somebody loses an eye.

Of course, probably the best answer to this question would be a YouTube video showing an actual to-the-death fight between trained swordsmen. (Do we have to call them swords-people now?) But there are a number of problems with this. First, swords kind of went out of vogue long before video cameras were a thing. Second, even though there are still people that study and practice sword fighting, most of them don’t engage in fights to the death with them. And, finally, most of us don’t want to watch a guy get killed with a sword on YouTube. So, recognizing these limitations, what do we have?

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Why are there two unconnected entrances to Umstead State Park?

I’m a big fan of Umstead State Park – especially since getting there from my front door requires ten minutes by bike or five minutes by car. But I’ve always been a little mystified by something. I live on the Cary side of the park, near the Harrison Avenue entrance. A lot of the park’s facilities (for example, the campgrounds) are on the far side of the park on the US 70 entrance. And there’s absolutely no way to drive through the park to get from the Cary side to the US 70 side! One day I decided to figure out why this was and found out there’s a really interesting story for how things ended up. So, how’d we get two entrances to Umstead? Read on to find out…


Umstead’s entrance sign.

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