“I think Hometown Christmas was a huge success! It was great having the Chamber help promote the event and make it feel more like a community event this year,” said Morgan City Manager Ty Bailey.
He continued saying, “Our partnerships with the Chamber, Lions Club, businesses, performers and volunteer groups helped make this year a success. Having Jerry Pierce on the microphone and great weather obviously didn’t hurt either. I am as impressed with Morgan as I am grateful to live in such a wonderful place!”
The sun even made an appearance this year making it unseasonably comfortable to walk down Commercial Street to enjoy all the fun.
The Morgan Lions Club made sure Santa arrived right on time aboard his shiny red fire truck. As the children lined up to whisper their Christmas wishes in his ear, the street was filling up with Morgan residents of all flavors, even the canine and equine variety.
Not only were there hay rides given by some of the most beautiful Clydesdale horses around, but some darling therapy ponies arrived in their Santa hats along with their best Corgi friend, to strut their stuff in the first-annual Holiday Pet Parade hosted by Lesa Gilgen and Dava Jensen of Coldwell Banker, along with Tara Rese with Fairway Mortgage.
“We had a great turn-out! There were 20 dogs and two mini horses. We hope everyone had fun and will be looking forward to next year,” said Gilgen happily. First place was awarded to Izzy, whose person is Amber White; second place went to the adorable Trixie owned by Thayne Kilburn; and third place landed with Spanky, who arrived with Carly Singleton. “The judges had a hard time picking since they were all so cute….so we had a lot of honorable mentions. We really had a great time!” added Gilgen.
Longstanding sponsor and announcer of events, Jerry Pierce noted how thrilled he was to see so many community residents come out to the event.
“It was great to see the Lions Club work together with the City and bring Santa into town. The horse drawn wagon rides never ended. There was always a line. The entertainment was great as we were privileged to hear from local talent including the Morgan High School choir groups. The energy was amazing,” said Pierce.
“Food vendors, both local restaurateurs and food trucks, were a great hit,” he praised. Food trucks included: Las Flores Authentic Mexican Food Truck; Marquessas Corn Dogs & Fried Pickles; and Fry Me To The Moon.
Another new event was the Morgan Festival of Trees. The Morgan Chamber of Commerce sent out a sincere thank you to all the businesses and individuals who donated to this great cause. $5,260 was raised for “charitable giving in Morgan County.”
The highest bid was $600 for the Wardell Bros tree. This festive construction lover’s tree was also awarded the People’s Choice Award. The “Chamber’s Choice Award,” which is a travelling award, went to Morgan EMS/Fire. They won a nutcracker trophy that will travel from year to year to the current champion.
Those who took the time to go around and visit each tree at the different places of business were entered into a drawing. Everett Gilson took home an iPad, Teisha Wardell received a $50 prize and Esplin McClellan and Kenzly Wilkinson walked away with $25 prizes.
A full list of tree donors and auction winners will be announced in next week’s edition of The Morgan County News.
Grounds for Coffee Owner Shauna Walker said, “The Festival of Trees was fantastic! It was great to see so many people participate. It definitely brought new faces in to our shop. Although most of them came in only to look at the trees and get their passports stamped without making a purchase, it still brought them in and it was great meeting new friends! “
Residents oohed and ahhed over every Christmas tree in the Grounds for Coffee lobby. “I loved the festival of trees- like seriously loved it! Really great trees and we had fun visiting the different businesses this week,” beamed local Katie Mecham.
Walker did note her disappointment that the trees didn’t go for more money. “I know the businesses put much more money to their trees than what they actually sold for. I’m hoping next year we can raise the minimum bids and double or even triple the donation. I’m excited to see how big the event gets in the coming years. The Chamber of Commerce did an exceptional job and it was great to see everyone come together and make it a success. I’ve heard nothing but good things from our customers, and we’re already working on new ideas for next year. Hopefully we can get more businesses involved and continue to grow each year!”
Pierce commended the Morgan Area Chamber of Commerce for their involvement saying, “I am also proud to be a member of the Chamber Board.”
The Chamber also took over the traditional gingerbread house contest this year, which was sponsored by Morgan City. Mecham said, “The gingerbread houses were fun, as usual, and it was fun to see new people enter.”
Winners for the Adult/Family category included: First place winner Rosalyn Warner for her depiction of the Morgan Train Station; second place honors went to Rachael Wheelwright and family for their nativity scene; and Bethany Warr, who created a church made entirely out of royal icing, took home third. Mayor’s Choice went to Jen Merrell for her cowboys and Indians Christmas themed creation.
In the kids ages 1-6 category, first place winner was Leah Keller, second Kasen/Kache/Kenadee Keller, and third place was a tie between Kade Keller and Ian Warr. The 7-11 year old winners included Max Warr, Addi Warr and Irelynd Elmer winning first, second and third place respectively.
This year, local school groups were given the opportunity to provide games and activities to help earn money for their teams or organizations. Grounds for Coffee hosted face painting and Hair Tinsel to raise money for the Morgan Elementary School PTO. Walker said it turned out great and most didn’t have a problem paying the small fee, even though they were used to the event being free of charge. “The money definitely went to a good cause benefiting the children in our community,” stated Walker.
“Our shop was packed the entire night and the event definitely boosted our sales. It was awesome to see all the businesses on Commercial Street hoppin’. We loved having the Lions Club being part of the celebration. It was an awesome addition to the celebration and hopefully they will join us again next year and in all the years to come,” noted Walker.
Morgan Valley Crafts owner Melissa Platt added some warmth and sweetness to this year’s festivities, not just with her presence, but with the addition of several new fire pits. This gave residents the opportunity to experience that campfire gooeyness on the streets of Morgan, adding to the ambiance of the afternoon.
“The Spirit of Christmas was abundant from the wonderful music I provided to the entertainment, to the smiles on everyone’s faces. The Morgan Academy of Dance put on a spectacular light show as they paraded and danced up and down Commercial Street just before the tree lighting,” Pierce said. “TEAM Jerry Pierce is always supporting community events, and this one ranks up at the top of the many.”