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Garden Club reschedules tree lighting

The annual Every Light a Prayer for Peace Ceremony hosted by the Russellville Cultura Garden Club was not the first event to be canceled this year, but it was the first in a while to be canceled because of something other than COVID-19.

The event was supposed to take place Thursday afternoon. Garden Club member Susie Malone said the decision was made last minute to cancel because of the rain.

“This was something we knew was a possibility of happening, but we hoped the weather would give us enough of a window,” Malone said.

A little rain is not, however, going to extinguish the Christmas spirit in Russellville as the club has announced this year’s Every Light A Prayer Ceremony will be moved to this Thursday.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse, instead of at the originally scheduled 4:30 p.m., after several people requested the time be moved back so they can attend after getting off work.

“Don’t let COVID be the Grinch that stole Christmas,” said Malone. “Put on your face mask, practice social distancing and get outside and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. Our country needs the prayers, and our community needs the encouragement.”

Guest speaker will be Phillip Goad from North Highlands Church of Christ. Performances will be by the Russellville High School chorus, pianist Tommy Guinn and others.

In addition to the Every Light A Prayer Ceremony, the Garden Club’s first-ever Christmas Tree Lighting will take place directly afterward, across the street at the Byars Building.

This event is made possible by Cecil Batchelor and his family, who gave the club permission to plant the tree on his property at the Byars Building. Batchelor will be part of the countdown for the tree lighting.

The 12-foot Norway Spruce will one day grow to about 50 feet, and Malone said she hopes the tree lighting will recur each year so it can spread cheer throughout the city.

The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Junior Leaders will be present working the event by giving out candy canes and selling hot chocolate.

The events will honor veterans, frontline workers, first responders and volunteers. Guests can also expect a visit from Santa Claus and possibly Mrs. Claus.

The events are free to the public, with everyone invited and encouraged to attend and join in the holiday festivities.