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Christmas in the Park
christmasinthepark
Margaret Hobbs photos Calayah Keaton, 2 , can't wait for her ride on The Polar Express. She is accompanied by her mother, Cora Keaton. Riders picked up a golden ticket and a bell from First National Bank representatives before riding around town to see Santa.

For 32 years, Junior Auxiliary of McMinnville has presented the Christmas in the Park event. This year marked the official lighting of the downtown Christmas tree. The 31-foot spruce is festooned with multi-colored lights, blending wonderfully with the large assortment of holiday lights.

Auxiliary members extensively planned activities for all ages, with several businesses also participating. Children could make calls to the North Pole, decorate ornaments, listen to stories at Magness Library and even jump in one of the inflatables.

Many downtown businesses opened their doors to visitors, making it a nice spot to visit, shop and warm up a while before making their way to the next activity. Hot chocolate or hot cider were the drinks of the night warding off the chill in the air. Ashley’s Attic visitors had the opportunity to make Christmas cards for residents of the Webb House, and could even get a fun balloon character at Poppies Boutique. Library personnel served cider and refreshments, as well as reading several Christmas-related books to the children.   

Junior Auxiliary members manned a craft table inside Regions Bank, with children lining up to participate. Also inside the bank, talented members of Warren Arts painted unique holiday designs on children’s faces and hands.

Perhaps the highlight for many was a ride on the Polar Express, a small train boarding at First National Bank and traveling through downtown on the way to visit Santa at Pioneer Pediatrics.

“The Polar Express was driven by Brenton Berlin for Panther Creek Forestry, volunteering his time to the event,” said JA member Becky Collier. “First National gave out the tickets and we are guessing close to 100 children were able to get a golden ticket for the ride.”
Master of ceremony Ryan J. Moore officially welcomed everyone, with Mayor Jimmy Haley giving an invocation followed by Kelly Slaughter singing the national anthem. Members of Boy Scout Pack 172  led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Lot stage featured various entertainers such as Tommy Vann and the Warren Arts group, with members of the Warren County High School Choir offering several traditional holiday songs. The group also led Santa to his destination by caroling through the streets. Christmas in the Park is not complete without a performance by the WCHS Pioneerette dance team, sporting their Santa costumes and high-kicking routine.

Each year memorial and honor luminaries are lit to honor Warren County citizens, and they were placed around The Lot.

Becky Collier is the current Junior Auxiliary president, with Christmas in the Park event chairs Samantha Harvey and Sarah Carr spearheading the activity.

“It was a great Christmas in the Park, and I was so proud to be part of it,” said Carr. “This event encompasses out community and lets everyone know what Christmas is all about.”