Drifting snow added to the ambiance as the community gathered around to count down the lighting of the Christmas tree in the center of Commercial Street at the end of the fourth annual Ol’ Time Christmas celebration on Saturday, Dec. 7. The city street looked like a scene right out of a Hallmark Christmas movie where neighbors, friends and family gather around to celebrate together.
There were many activities that preceded this capstone event starting with the Light Parade and fireworks on Friday Dec. 6.
Saturday’s itinerary began with Mr. and Mrs. Claus being chauffeured by a bright red fire engine, which has been one of his favorite modes of transportation while visiting Morgan. Throughout the day, eager children sat on his lap one by one giving their wish lists whether short or long. Santa gave each child that visited him encouragement to keep being a good boy or girl and one of Santa’s trusty helpers gave each child a coloring book and candy cane.
Children played a variety of free games that were held in the Crossfit Unknown building. Ice fishing, Elf Hat Ring Toss and Snowball Slingshot were among the seasonally themed games. A helpful energetic bunch from the Morgan 12th Ward Young Men’s group volunteered the entire time to make sure everyone had fun.
Mallory North said, “I came to walk around but stayed to help tie balloons.” She and the group twisted and tied balloons into iconic Santa Claus hats complete with a white pompom on top. She decided to stay and help run the games with the young men’s group, which her dad helps lead, because she loved to see the kids get excited to play the games and win prizes.
Each of the boys gave wonderful service, ensuring everyone went away happy. For example, the boys running a bowling game would give a little nudge to the ball when needed. When there weren’t lines, the boys had fun playing the games themselves.
The Morgan 12th Ward Young Men’s group wasn’t the only religious group that volunteered to make the day special. Morgan Grace Fellowship Church gave out free hot chocolate to all that stopped by, warming both the body and the soul. This church that joined our community about one year ago has continually given service to those inside and outside our community. The Ol’ Time Christmas committee was very grateful to the church for being so actively involved in the Christmas celebration.
Next, raffle tickets were given to those who donated toys, food or money to Sub for Santa. Donations were sorted in big boxes to be given to those less fortunate. At the end of the evening, many lucky winners received gift certificates to various businesses, as well as other prizes. The prize drawing culminated with a new plasma big-screen TV, which Cherryl Willie won.
Mayor Jim Egbert was pleased with the turnout as he joined the group at the old Morgan Dance Academy building for one of the performances held on stage.
While some years have had greater attendance, the 2013 Ol’ Time Christmas celebration entertained approximately 600 people. Morgan City Councilmember Shelly Betz was also very pleased and appreciative of the large number of people who came out in spite of the freezing temperatures.
The celebration, now in its fourth year, has brought its own set of challenges as well as triumphs. The biggest challenge to preparing the event was finding space on Commercial Street to house the activities. When Betz led the efforts the first year, there were ample vacant buildings. But efforts to revitalize that area of town have been effective and each year the available buildings have changed. Luckily, businesses in the area in addition to the vacant buildings opened their doors to the public. Morgan Physical Therapy led children through a roped off area to the delightful setup to sit on Santa’s knee. Without their help, as well as other businesses, it would be difficult to continue this tradition.
Ol’ Time Christmas has brought the community closer together in celebrating the holidays with community spirit. The Morgan City Council is dedicated to bringing fun family entertainment that is free or inexpensive so that everyone can come together, regardless of their situation.
Shelly Betz and the entire Ol’ Time Christmas committee have worked diligently to bring the community this delightful event. Without their work, from planning to cleanup, Morgan wouldn’t have this fun weekend to look forward to every year.
A big thank you to the committee including Becky Shaw - Light Parade; Mayor Egbert - fireworks and Light Parade; Krista Johansen - kids’ games and Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt; Stacy Lafitte – entertainment; Leisa Wilson – decorations; Jennifer Vesper - coloring contest; Cherryl Willie - gingerbread house contest; Morgan Grace Fellowship Church - free hot chocolate and cider; Friends of the Library - elves in Santa’s workshop; and Verlene Johnson - all around runner.