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Myrtle Beach area alive with the sights, sounds of holiday events

Christmas-themed events are blossoming this weekend, with parades, concerts and festivals. Folks with a hunger for history in homes also might enjoy fund-raisers in Conway and in Atalaya at Huntington Beach State Park.

The Pilot Club of Conway will have is annual “Conway Christmas Tour of Homes” 2-6 p.m. Sunday in a self-guided tour for $15 to eight sites across Horry County’s seat

Leslie Johnson-Quick, tour coordinator, said this marks about the 10th time the club has coordinated the tour. Although plans did not pan out for a tour in 2011, club officials found this year “a lot easier to get people to participate,“ she said.

Besides Kingston Presbyterian Church and the Conway Visitor’s Center, the stops cover six homes, and visitors can go in any order, at their leisure. Johnson-Quick said they range from a bed-and-breakfast in a historic residence and two newer places in the Maple area of Conway.

“It’s a good variety of houses,” she said.

At the beginning of September, Johnson-Quick started checking to see who’d be interested in opening up for this tour, with a goal “to lock it down” for an agenda “by Halloween.”

A past president of the club of 24 members, Johnson-Quick said she has been on the committee for this tour for five years, and she’s excited about her debut in rounding up all the points for the 2012 affair. Three charities will benefit as well: the Autism Advocate Foundation; Churches Assisting People; and Fostering Hope.

Every room in Atalaya

In the northeast corridor of Georgetown County, the Friends of Huntington Beach State Park will have their third annual “Atalaya Holiday Celebration” 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

The party spreads through the 30 rooms in Atalaya, the former winter residence of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, who also founded Brookgreen Gardens across the street, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach.

The benefit for the Friends raises funds toward its park improvement projects, such as renovation of some restrooms and the boardwalk this past year, and plans to install new shower towers.

Anne Rogers of Murrells Inlet, who handles publicity for the group, said teamwork in arrangements will “have every room decorated” and that “people have really taken an interest in it.”

She said this spirit carries over from last December, when participants stepped up the decor and “really went all out” with period looks, furniture and antiques, in many parts of the Spanish Moorish-style home.

“This year, people started asking for the rooms well in advance,” Rogers said.

Having the Grand Strand Model Railroaders club return to set up a train display expanded from the 2011 event and a full lineup of music all day also will make this event on Saturday “even better,” Rogers said. Various performers will take turns, such as the Pawleys Island Concert Band playing a set at 11 a.m., a local women’s chorus twice, and a hand-bell choir, to close the afternoon.

The menu also will be enlarged, Rogers said, with an oyster roast, chicken bog and clam chowder meals among the choices for “a nominal fee” besides the $2 festival admission and park-entry charge: $5 ages 16 and older, $3.25 S.C. seniors, $3 ages 6-15.

With about 100 members making up the Friends -- locally with many “transplants from somewhere else” and with some winter vacationers -- Rogers said the group’s core of helpers “enjoy putting time, energy and love into the park as a way of welcoming tourists and our local citizens.”

“We’re all volunteers,” she said, commending everyone for lending their hand and talents. “It takes a lot of work.”

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