This time of year is generally filled with shopping and stress. There is all this pressure to make sure everyone is happy on Christmas morning. It is rare that we actually take the time to step away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a day with our families.
The recent downturn in the economy has made the last few holiday seasons especially difficult for many families in Morgan. These things all factored into the decision of the Morgan City Council to start a new hometown tradition and the Ol’ Time Christmas on Commercial Street celebration was born. Traditions are memories in the making. It is a chance for Morgan City to say “thank you” to its residents.
The first two events were a huge success. One grateful resident approached Councilwoman Shelly Betz following the celebration and shared with her how much she appreciated the chance to make lasting memories with her family without having to spend anything at a time when money was in short supply. Betz said after that, she knew that this celebration needed to continue. The entire city council has been incredibly supportive of this undertaking. Without the council’s support and hard work, events like this would not be possible.
Committee member Krista Johansen said, “I love these community events because it brings us all together for a fun time. Whether you are a lifetime resident, transplant, young or old, we all get to come together to celebrate this town which we love and our relationships with each other.”
It takes a village to pull off an event of this magnitude. Volunteers are a key part of Christmas on Commercial Street. This year’s committee consists of Mayor Jim Egbert, Councilwoman Shelly Betz, Joann Burby, Stacy Lafitte, Nancy Mahan, Leisa Wilson, Verlene Johnson, Krista Johansen, Ashley Barber, Jennifer Vesper and Liz Donaldson. When asked why she volunteers, Joann Burby said, ”I know the benefits of community activities like this and how they draw people together. It makes a town more desirable both for those living here and those considering living here.” Krista Johansen talked about how volunteering helps her teach her kids about how to be good citizens.
The third-annual celebration will begin with an all-new event on Friday, Dec. 7. The first annual electric light parade will begin at 6 p.m. and will travel down Trojan Blvd. to Commercial Street, up 100 North and end at the high school. The light parade will be followed by a fireworks display.
As this is a new event, Mayor Jim Egbert is encouraging everyone to come out and participate. All light parade entries will be judged and there will be a first place award of $300, a second place award of $200 and a third place award of $100. Councilwoman Shelly Betz said, “This is a great chance to earn some extra holiday cash, so put some lights on your bike, your kids, your hubby, the dog, whatever you have.”
Saturday, Dec. 8, the day begins at noon with a Christmas boutique which opens prior to the rest of the activities to give people a chance to come over and browse kid free. Due to the increase in new businesses on Commercial Street, the boutique will be held outdoors this year in a heated tent, so be sure to dress warmly.
At 2 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive with the Morgan Fire department to kick-off the afternoon activities. This year’s activities will include free kids games and free face painting and hair tinsel. Tiny tots can also climb aboard the Christmas train free of charge. Santa will visit with each child and while they are waiting in line, they can write letters to Santa and visit with Mrs. Claus.
Free hot chocolate will be provided by Larry’s Spring Chicken Inn. Larry will also be selling his famous chili. Ace Hardware is providing free popcorn and Deb’s will also be open for business. Taggarts will also be on hand selling their tempting treats.
The “elf on the shelf” tradition will be continued throughout the day to encourage residents to browse the local shops, old and new. The new Grace Fellowship church will be offering free gift wrapping for purchases made in any of these local shops.
The old Buzzy’s café will be open for attendees to view the incredible gingerbread houses on display. This year this contest will feature three categories, family, adult and kids 12 and under. The committee hopes that this will encourage people of every age and ability to enter. Cash prizes will be given for each category. In the adult and family categories, cash prizes are first place $250, second place $150 and third place will be a $50 gift certificate to Morgan Valley Crafts. The kids’ category will have a $50 first place prize along with craft items for second and third. There will also be a Mayor’s choice prize of $50 and a people’s choice prize of $100. So please make sure to take time to vote for your favorite entry.
Last year the arrival of the Grinch brought many smiles, so the crowd favorite will make an appearance once again as well as carolers on the corner, Morgan Elementary fourth-grade choir and dance performances from Morgan Academy of Dance teams.
The evening will wind down with the raffle, announcement of contest winners, sing along, ringing of the bells and of course, the lighting of the tree. Be sure to bring your unwrapped toys and canned goods to be entered into the raffle.
A brand new television will be the grand prize and other prizes will include gift certificates to local businesses. The luminary light display will conclude the evening. Watching all the luminaries make their way into the starry night sky is breathtaking, so don’t miss it.