The annual Yule Mart boasted a parachuting Santa, carriage rides, and 34 booths filled with unique crafts to kick of an early start to the holiday season, Friday through Sunday.
For the past 27 years, the Association of Bragg Spouses has hosted this holiday shopping extravaganza.
The event has strict rules about the nature of the crafts that can be sold, requiring that all items be 90 percent handmade.For an entry fee of $5, visitors to the Yule Mart at Hercules Fitness Center could shop, get faces painted and get photos with Santa.
Saturday, with assistance from the Special Forces Association Jump Team reindeer, Santa jumped into the event.
On Sunday, ABS offered carriage rides and live musical performances.
Pricilla Cruz, ABS board member and Yule Mart chairperson, explained that with all the unique crafts and experiences on offer, the most meaningful shopping choice for her Family has been Santa’s Secret Shop.
Even though her Family spent a lot of money on Christmas presents last year, Cruz said the Santa’s Secret Shop presents were her children’s top gifts.
“Last year my husband deployed, (at) the end of the year, and this was the one gift that all of the kids in my household were super excited for … Each of them had their own secret special gift that they purchased and that they had gift wrapped … so that one is dear to my heart,” she explained.
The Santa’s Secret Shop is comprised entirely of donated items with a cost five dollars per gift. Each child can pick out an item with the aid of an elf-helper and get the item gift wrapped to give to Family and friends.
All proceeds from the ABS Yule Mart event go back to the local military community in the form of welfare grants for small local business that support the military and scholarships for military dependents.
ABS held this year’s event earlier than past Yule Marts. Cruz attributes this to the feedback they received from the previous year’s vendors.
Next year Cruz explained the event would likely be held during the first or second week in November, as ABS is seeks that perfect time to help members of the Fort Bragg community begin their holiday shopping.