A name like Holly Springs conjures images of cool waters steadily trickling from resilient, deep aquifers, springs that run past vibrant, age-old holly trees that have withstood storms and droughts, wars and depressions, and times of peace and prosperity. Indeed, this southern Wake Town originated at such a place, where 40-foot holly trees towered over freshwater springs. Some of the local centuries-old springs feed creeks and ponds to this day.
In colonial times, a small cluster of homes and businesses formed around the original “holly springs” in an area that once was a Tuscarora Indian hunting ground. The tiny community included a sawmill, cotton gin, a store and a house that was used as a school and as a church, one of the first four to join the Raleigh Baptist Association in 1805. The church disbanded when “several members became indulged in things of this world and became unfaithful to the church,” according to a church history. Some former members established another Baptist church a couple miles north at the intersection of two roads, one that went from Hillsborough to Smithfield and the other from Raleigh to the Cape Fear River and then on to Fayetteville. The crossroads was to become what is now downtown Holly Springs.
Nestled among Apex, Cary and Fuquay-Varina, all towns experiencing growth from the heavily populated Raleigh and RTP areas, Holly Springs is rapidly growing. The Town of less than 1,000 in 1990 grew to more than 9,000 in 2000. By 2006, the population was approximately 17,500.
While the Town welcomes growth, leaders also are determined to control the quality and placement of new developments while preserving open space and creating public areas. One of the recent focuses has been on encouraging commercial development in downtown Holly Springs.
One of the annual highlights of community life is the Holly Fest celebration on the last Saturday in October. Festivities include free children’s rides, music, food, arts and crafts, a 5-K race, and fireworks.
Another annual event is the Kiwanis Club Haunted Schoolhouse in October. Volunteers decorate the Town’s community center, formerly an elementary school, and promise locals touring the facility plenty of Halloween scares. Young children can visit the facility during the early evening hours for a friendly tour, free face painting and hayrides.
Yet another event residents anticipate is Main Street Christmas, sponsored by the Town Chamber of Commerce. Residents visit Town Hall to deck the Christmas tree, enjoy hayrides around the downtown block and listen to local church carolers. A line of children also await the chance to sit on Santa Claus’ lap.
The Happy Holly Days Parade, a festive December parade that marches down Main Street, is a longtime local favorite. Annual entries include everything from local school marching bands and Town officials to unique groups, such as youth from the local gymnastic and martial arts schools.
The Holly Springs Library and Cultural Center is a center for arts, entertainment and special events. This center includes a library, performing arts theater, conference center, outdoor stage and grand lobby.
Be sure to check out the Calendar of Events.
From the past to the present, from the small-town atmosphere where people still know each other by name to the frequent, unique family-oriented activities, Holly Springs is a town that is continuing to grow not just in population and industry but also in heart.
Not yet a decade old, the Town’s parks and recreation department is young. Still, a huge variety of programs at the Town parks provides opportunities for families to play together. The 46-acre Parrish Womble Park, much of which was formerly a tobacco farm, now includes baseball and soccer fields, playground equipment, a small fishing pond, a picnic shelter, an amphitheater, a paved walking trail, and areas for horseshoes and volleyball.
Ninety-acre Bass Lake Park opened in 2004 and features a lake stocked with an assortment of fish. Canoes and small boats, along with fishing gear, are available for rent. A 1.25-mile mulch trail along the lakeshore features scenic overlooks. The park also offers a retreat center for meetings and special events. Park-sponsored outings, such as owl prowls, single-mingle canoe paddles and family moonlight canoe trips, draw in locals regularly.
For a complete list of Town parks visit the Holly Springs Parks and Recreation website.
The Parks and Recreation department also has a multitude of athletic programs which offer organized sports opportunities for youth and adults.