GREENSBORO — For the kids, Tom Franklin’s Chevrolet Silverado pickup was the main event in the Aycock Historic Neighborhood on Sunday night.
Franklin pulled up in front of Sternberger Park shortly after 6 p.m., and a dozen kids piled into the hay-covered bed. The hayride marked the beginning of the neighborhood’s “Night of Luminarias.”
“You can sing, and you can have fun,” Franklin told the excited youngsters, huddled under blankets to ward off the cold. “But you cannot throw hay, because if it gets in someone’s eyes it’s going to hurt.”
The kids weren’t thinking about hay, anyway. They just wanted to ride through the neighborhood in the back of a pickup singing Christmas songs.
Franklin’s wife, Renee, who rode in the back with them to hold down the mischief, started them off with “Jingle Bells.”
“It was fun just being with my friends and having a good time,” Matthew Lauber said after a spin along luminaria-lit streets.
The event, which Aycock coordinates with adjoining Fisher Park, is one of several during the year that helps bond neighbors and create a sense of community, Franklin said. Similar luminaria events are held in neighborhoods across the Triad.
“We try to be a neighborhood in the traditional sense,” he said. “We try to look out for our neighbors; we try to look out for our neighbors’ kids.” Seems to be working. Several dozen gathered around the park as the night wore on and mingled like old friends.
“We all have kids,” said Anne Marie Stott, who lives on Fifth Avenue. “Everybody brings out their dogs. We catch up and chat, get excited about Christmas.”
After a while, Franklin strung an extension cord from an electrical box to the gazebo in the park so Tracy Lamthe could plug in her coffee urn and brew 1½ gallons of cider. It was good and warm by the time Garth Payne began leading the singing.
After the singing, folks walked the neighborhood in the glow of the luminarias. Franklin and others in the neighborhood had put out nearly 2,400 around the park, along neighborhood streets and across the foot bridge over the railroad tracks that link Aycock and Fisher Park.
“We’ve been putting these out since 1 o’clock,” said Franklin, an event organizer. “Usually we start a little earlier, but we had to go to church. Usually it takes five or six hours with the help of neighbors.”
For folks such as T.K. Miller, who has lived in Aycock nearly 20 years, the effort is worth it.
“I love this neighborhood because of these kinds of things we do,” she said.
“It’s a real sense of community. This is like those old neighborhoods that you hear about.”
Contact Meredith Barkley at 373-7091 or mbarkley@