• HICKMANS CROSSROADS — The county branch library in this rural community is looking more like Bargain Book City.

    At the front of Hickmans Crossroad Library on Calabash Road, library-goers are greeted by a sale table near the front door inviting them to grab a bag and fill it with as many books as they wish for just $1. Bags are provided, too.

    Any books marked with an “x,” on or under the table, are eligible.

    All proceeds go toward funding projects and buying books for the library by the Friends of the Hickmans Crossroads Library.

  • Willis Richardson Players & Co. will have a second round of auditions for the theater drama production, "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men," from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, at the Hannah Block USO/ Community Art Center, 120 S. Second St. in Wilmington.

    The center is at the corner of Second and Orange streets.

    The play will be presented April 25 and 26 at Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St. in Wilmington.

    For more information, call producer/director Daren Beatty at (910) 352-6247 or Rodger Aiken at (910) 762-5167.

  • One of the most challenging aspects of aging is isolation and loss of social interaction. Whether homebound because of physical challenges or illness, many senior citizens may begin to feel cut off from the outside world and struggle with depression. Those feelings of loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety, and medical complications. A new study proves that pets can cheer up lonely seniors and enhance quality of life — but we pet lovers already knew that.

  • Imagine caring for 6 to 8 million dogs and cats each year. Now, picture having to euthanize half those animals every year for little or no pay. That’s the job our heroic animal shelter and rescue personnel and volunteers perform each year. For them, I am eternally grateful.

  • By John Nelson
    Plant Columnist

    For the Christmas holidays we can have an easy mystery plant. Don’t you think? I think it will be easy, but before we go there, I have a question.
    It’s about that fluffy stuff that they put in the bottom of Easter baskets, or in the bottoms of fruit baskets or boxes that you order to be delivered. What is that stuff called? “Shredded paper filler?” Too technical for the holidays. “Excelsior?” Too hard to pronounce. Maybe we can come up with a name for it.

  • On Jan. 10, the Museum of Coastal Carolina’s Coastal Gallery presents the grand opening and reception of “The Marsh” — a collection of acrylic and oil paintings by local artist Sharon Bowling.

    These paintings capture the subtle beauty of the marsh, from the bright greens of spring and summer to the deep yellows and reds of fall and winter.

    A “meet the artist” reception with Bowling is from noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 10 at the museum at 21 E. Second St. in Ocean Isle Beach.

  • Southport’s Franklin Square Gallery will host a mini-workshop in experimental painting by Wilmington artist MJ Cunningham on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17 and 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    The class tackles the problem of “getting started” while working with acrylics on non-objective painting. Students should come away with some well-defined steps for producing experimental art and a basic knowledge of how to use the principles of art in a new and effective way.

    To sign up for the class, email Jan Boland at jboland1@ec.rr.com or call (910) 253-3101.

  • Tickets are still available for the upcoming concert of blues legend B.B. King, who is scheduled to perform Saturday night, Jan. 11, at Odell Williamson Auditorium at Brunswick Community College.

    Tickets are priced at $59.50 for balcony/mezzanine and $69.50 for orchestra seating. For more information, call the OWA box office at (910) 755-7416.

  • Brunswick Senior Resources is ringing in 2014 in a big way with a New Year’s Eve dance to christen the new Shallotte Senior Center.

    Festivities start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, at the new senior center at 3620 Express Drive in Shallotte and continue until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, New Year’s Day.

    Highlights include music by the Brunswick Big Band, a buffet, cash bar and party favors. A cash bar will be available.

    Tickets are $75 each.

    Proceeds from this fundraiser will help BSRI provide ramps and rails to area seniors in need.

  • CALABASH — The town of Calabash will host its third public New Year’s Eve bonfire and celebration starting at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31.

    Festivities will take place in the Hurricane Fishing Fleet parking lot next to the Calabash River. Complimentary refreshments will include pulled-pork barbecue sandwiches (while they last), soup, coffee and clam chowder.

    There will also be a casting of messages in a bottle. Participants write good wishes and place them in the bottles, which will be taken out to the Gulf Stream by the Hurricane Fleet.

  • Those looking for extended holiday fun with family and friends this holiday season need look no further than the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

    Though closed for Christmas, the aquarium will reopen at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 26.

    For the first time, the aquarium will also be open New Year’s Day — on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The aquarium will operate during normal business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Light up your yuletide this season with the Holiday Laser Music Show at Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach.

    Show time is noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 4 at the planetarium at 7625 High Market Street.

    There will also be specially scheduled shows at 5 p.m. Dec. 26 and 5 p.m. Jan. 2, 3 and 4.

  • Bolivia Volunteer Fire Department will host its annual Christmas parade Saturday, Dec. 21.

    The parade will begin at 11 a.m. at the Brunswick County Government Complex, 30 Government Center Drive in Bolivia.

    The parade will proceed from the complex through Bolivia on Old Ocean Highway and will end at Bolivia Elementary School at 4036 U.S. 17 Business East in Bolivia.

    The road will be blocked off prior to parade start time.

    All parade entries should submit their entry form to Bolivia Volunteer Fire Department prior to the parade.

  • The Mostly Bluegrass Society will have its annual Christmas covered dish dinner at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at the Shallotte Senior Center at 5040 Main St. in Shallotte.

    The public is invited to come and bring a covered dish and enjoy fellowship and special music.

    For more information, call Jim Caulder at (910) 616-1133.

  • The Battleship North Caroina is asking for help in making the holidays brighter for veterans.

    In the past eight years, the community has come together to send more than 16,000 cards to veterans staying in more than 28 VA hospitals in nine states. To continue the tradition, the ship is reaching out in efforts to build on the foundation and reach more veterans than in years past.

  • The Brunswick Concert Band and The Brunswick Little Theatre Singers are teaming to present two performances of the “Magical Music of Christmas.”

    Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Hatch Auditorium in Caswell Beach and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, in Odell Williamson Auditorium at Brunswick Community College.

    These performances are free, but donations to support the band are gratefully accepted and help support its Music Students Assistance Program, which provides instruments to students who cannot purchase their own.

  • Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site is celebrating an 18th Century Christmas from 1 to 5:30 p.m. this coming Sunday, Dec. 15.

    Participants will explore how American colonists celebrated Christmas.

    Costumed interpreters will provide guided tours of St. Philips Anglican Church and historic Brunswick on the hour.

  • Perhaps nothing has saved more lives than vaccines. Today in the U.S., we rarely encounter once-common maladies such as smallpox, polio and measles that took innumerable lives less than a hundred years ago. Pet parents have little reason to fear devastating diseases such as canine distemper, feline leukemia, and rabies that stole countless companions only 50 years ago. That doesn’t mean modern vaccines don’t carry some risk, especially for cats.

  • The Sea Notes Choral Society will present its 2013 Christmas Concert, “Christmas Gifts,” Dec. 5, 6 and 8.

    The singers will be working their magic with traditional songs wrapped in a musical package.

    The concerts will be held at Caswell Beach/Oak Island in Hatch Auditorium, at the Baptist Assembly.

    There will be three performances, at 7:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 5, and Friday, Dec. 6, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

    Admission is free as Sea Notes is a nonprofit organization.

  • LONGWOOD—For the seventh holiday season in a row, Grissettown Longwood Fire Department will become station central for dozens of model trains.

    The department’s seventh annual Christmas Train Show gets under way 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and continues through the weekend, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and Sunday, Dec. 8.

    Each year since the first train show launched during the 2006 holiday season, the trains have just gotten bigger, better, and greater in number, fire chief Tal Grissett says.