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Bring your friends and family to enjoy an evening of music, activities, face painting, craft vendors and so much more. Some activities at nominal fee where noted.


  • Free Ice Skating
  • 6PM-Lighting of the Imperial Centre: Enjoy Christmas Music as we light up the Imperial Centre for all to enjoy
  • Free Carriage Rides
Main Lobby:
  • Food vendors
  • Santa
  • Disney Characters
  • Snow
Arts Center:
  • 1st floor:
    • Make your own ornaments. Free to participate, jump in any time!
    • Gallery Shop will be open! Great Christmas Presents!
  • 2nd floor:
    • Live Music by William McLaughlin!
    • Arts Education Mini Workshop:
      • Costs $5 (pay at front desk), All ages welcome!
      • Workshop located at the Arts Education Building
      • Silk Scarf dyeing!! Makes a great, one-of-a-kind Christmas gift!!
Children's Museum & Science Center:
  • NC Musuem of Natural Sciences - Dinosaur Discovery program
  • Nash Community College - Observe your own cells with Microscopes
  • Braswell Memorial Library - Pop Up Library
  • Face painting
  • Make a straw airplane
  • 7 PM- Season of Light
  • 8 PM- Laser Holiday
  • The Christmas Chorus:
    • $10 per ticket
    • Located in the Main Theatre
    • House opens at 7 PM
    • Show starts at 7:30 PM
  • No Shame:
    • Free
    • Located in the Black Box (Art Ed Building)
    • Hosted by Stephen Ingle
    • Open Mic Night for Theatre
    • Act sign up begins at 7 PM
    • Show starts at 7:30

The Theater at the Imperial Centre will be holding auditions for their next production "A Christmas Story" by Philip Grecian, adapted from Jean Shepherd's memoir and film, directed by Brooke Edwards.

Auditions will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, September 29 and 30, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Theater at the Imperial Centre. Please prepare a one to two minute comedic monologue. If you do not have a monologue material will be provided for you to read.

Cast Needs:
- 2 Women
- 2 Men
- 5 Boys ages 8 to 16
- 2 Girls ages 8 to 12
Blind Casting. We are seeking an ethnically diverse cast.

Performances are December 10, 11, & 12 at 7:30 p.m. and December 12 & 13 at 2:00 p.m.

Humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940s follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher and even Santa Claus himself, at Higbee's Department Store. The consistent response: "You'll shoot your eye out!" All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the family's temperamental exploding furnace; Scut Farkas, the school bully; the boys' experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost; the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin; Ralphie's father winning a lamp shaped like a woman's leg in a net stocking; Ralphie's fantasy scenarios and more. A Christmas Story is destined to become a theatrical holiday perennial.

About Our Namesake

Maria Howard came to Rocky Mount in 1946 from Antwerp, Belgium as a young bride. She had married Major Herbert Howard, an American soldier, in Belgium the year before. Before moving to this country, she studied for five years at the Antwerp School of Design—she received her diploma after four years and planned to complete two more years, but all schools in Antwerp were closed in 1944-45 when the V-I’s bombed the City. The war ended and, as Herbert prepared to return home, they got married and she prepared to join him in the US.

Maria quickly embraced Rocky Mount and Rocky Mount embraced her as she involved herself in many activities…the Rocky Mount Garden Club, The Rocky Mount Arts Center, the Elks Lodge Auxiliary, the Junior Guild, and a host of civic projects. She was appointed by then Mayor Fred Turnage as Vice Chair of the Bicentennial Commission and played an important part in the Commission’s role to develop a program for the celebration of the City's Bicentennial birthday. She served three years on the Sears Garden Club HANDS Board of Directors, coordinating the planting of holly trees on Main Street, landscaping the Battle Park gazebo and planting dogwood trees at City Lake, along U.S. Highway 301 Business and Highway 43, projects for which she was awarded an Award of Merit by HANDS for these projects.

She enthusiastically entered flower arrangements in flower shows where she almost always took away a blue ribbon; she painted, designed and made exquisite clothing for herself; she spoke to and for groups and civic clubs; and sang in the Christmas Chorus at the Arts Center and the Tar River Chorus. She kept extensive and expansive scrapbooks of all her activities and recognitions and loved to share them with any one she could get to pause long enough to peruse them.

Maria Howard loved the Arts Center and took great pride in participating in the many events that took place here during her life time. She was an artistically talented individual who did not hide her talents “under a bushel”—she was, in fact, a charter member of the Arts Center, dating back to before the Arts Center became a part of the City of Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department. And she was a staunch supporter of renovating the Imperial Centre into the wonderful facility you visit today.

Maria Howard had a great love for this country, for this City, and especially for this Arts Center. Her life in this country and involvement in the activities of this community are models for anyone who relocates to a foreign environment, embraces the community and becomes a contributing citizen. Maria Howard was that type of person. This community will benefit from her generosity for years to come.

For more information, email arts@imperialcentre.org