Authentic small town America

Mar. 30, 2013 @ 05:49 PM

WARRENTON - On a bright and sunny Saturday in downtown Warrenton, Easter bonnets and bunny ears filled the lawn on the courthouse square, as generations old and new gathered for the community’s Easter Bonnet Parade.

Sponsored by the Warren County Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Warrenton Revitalization Committee, the event provided plenty of family entertainment with a second year of arts and crafts, a prize raffle and parade. The parade was a new addition.

“This is like classic Warrenton right now, which is a good thing,” said Gabe Cumming, director of the Warren County Economic Development Commission, and a downtown business owner.

“It’s good for Main Street businesses to have something going on downtown. It’s a very charming town.

“You see how all different types of people come together to do something like this, and it’s really like authentic small town America. You can’t make this up.”

The Warren County Arts Council provided stations where children gathered to decorate their unique Easter bonnets, worn as they marched around the square behind a “bunny” and an “egg” in the event’s culminating parade.

“The children here rarely have things to do so it’s really good when they can have something on a Saturday,” said Jessica Silver, who brought her twin 8-year-old daughters out to enjoy the festivities. “It’s a beautiful day and occasion. I think having time to show their artistic side is a good time.”
Students from Warren New Tech High School volunteered, helping youngsters decorate their bonnets, while also having a little fun of their own.

Carlita Mata, senior at Warren New Tech wore bunny ears and covered her face in sparkles, giving kids a true example of creativity.

“I actually started volunteering with the Youth Service Bureau a couple years ago,” Mata said. “They called me up a couple of days ago and asked if I wanted to be a part of today, and I said of course.

“So, I’m here. I like working with little kids.”

As a requirement, students at New Tech must complete 20 hours of community service before graduating.

“I decided I may as well get my hours in before senior year,” said Josh Gilbert, a freshman at New Tech.

Waiting for the parade to start was 5-year-old Ariyanna Smith from Greensboro, who proudly sported her freshly glued bonnet, embellished with dozens of jewels that glistened in the sunlight.

“First you got to take the paper off, then you stick it on there,” said Smith, referencing her jewels. “I used sparkle things, red, and I used green stuff, yellow stuff, a marker, glue, and little sparkles.”

After the parade, children were all smiles as they scattered through the lawn, hunting for hidden Easter eggs.

As one of the oldest towns in North Carolina, Warrenton exudes a quaintness and charming personality, providing a suitable setting for Saturday’s parade.

“We hope they see a potential that hey, this town is full of energy, and bring other people to the town” said Tim Ennis, executive director of the Warren County Chamber of Commerce. “With that we can help with revitalization by bringing these towns back to where they need to be, and filling store fronts.”

With an oversized red feathery hat, Cheryl Bell, a Warrenton Revitalization Committee member, echoed Ennis’ quest to attract visitors.

“We’re trying to make Warrenton a destination,” Bell said. “Warrenton never died.”

And the day before Easter, it was quite lively indeed.

Contact the writer at