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Jingle all the way: Russellville kicks off Christmas

Russellville started the month of December with a big dose of seasonal cheer: first with the Cultura Garden Club’s annual Every Light a Prayer for Peace and Tree Lighting ceremonies.

The prayer for peace event has been locally observed and sponsored by the club for more than 30 years. The event took place, as is tradition, on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse.

Club president Deborah Nale gave the welcoming remarks, and Jacob Wallace, youth minister at Calvary Baptist Church, gave the invocation. Russellville High School JROTC members Jacob Foster and Marcus Jeffreys presented the colors. Caroline Sparks sang the National Anthem. Retired Maj. Gen. Troy Oliver and wife Brenda Oliver, who is Garden Club parliamentary adviser, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Club secretary Sherry James, recognized veterans, active military, front-line workers and first responders. Cheri McCain, first vice president for the club, shared the history of the event, and Patricia Cox, club treasurer, introduced the speaker, Derek Washington of First Free Will Baptist Church, who presented the Prayer for Peace Message.

Event entertainers included the Russellville Elementary School Fifth Grade Chorus, Russellville Middle School Chorus and Russellville High School Vocal Ensemble. Aaron Freeman directed the RMS chorus in singing “This Holiday,” and Lauren Ritter directed the fifth-grade chorus in singing “Mostly What I Wish For.”

RHS musical theatre and drama instructor Patrice Smith read Milly Patzer’s “Light a Candle” poem, which begins, “In the darkened night, a candle glows. Then another’s lit, and so it goes. Candles lit by human hand, glowing bright across our land.”

The choirs combined to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” RHS band director Jeremy Willis played taps, and Jacob Wallace gave the closing prayer.

Susie Hovater Malone, second vice president of the Garden Club, led the Christmas Tree Lighting celebration, and club members led the official lighting of the Christmas tree. The tree is located in front of the Byars Building, which is diagonally across from the courthouse.

Shortly after that came the Russellville Christmas parade, followed by the Russellville Hospital Foundation Tree Lighting and Afterparty at City Lake Park.

Upcoming Christmas events in Franklin County include:

  • Dec. 8, 6 p.m. – Phil Campbell Christmas Parade, with tree lighting in the park directly after.
  • Dec. 8, 6 p.m. – Red Bay Christmas Parade; moved from Dec. 5 to avoid the threat of rain.
  • Dec. 8, 7 p.m. – PCES Christmas Program, PCHS Gym, Pre-K through second grade.
  • Dec. 11, 4 p.m. – RMS Performing Arts’ Christmas Jolly Jamboree: featuring the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade show choirs and choruses and the RHS Acapella Ensemble. The show will be directed by Aaron Freeman. Doors open at 3 p.m., and admission is $5.
  • Dec. 11-13 – Mountain View Baptist Church’s “A Night in Bethlehem,” 2110 Highway 81. Free, narrated, drive-through live nativity, including painted animals and other scenery. No registration necessary.
  • Dec. 12, 6:30 p.m. – NW-SCC Auditorium, Phil Campbell Campus. A Christmas Celebration: featuring the PCES fifth-grade band, PCHS choir, PCES sixth-grade band and PCHS concert band. Admission is free and open to the public.
  • Dec. 13, 5-7 p.m. – Photos with Santa at Russellville Public Library, as well as a book signing, meet and greet and special story time with local author and artist Dianne W. Pace, who will have copies of her book, which she wrote and illustrated, “Too Many Santas.”
  • Dec. 13-15, 6-8 p.m. – “A Walk Thru Bethlehem,” live nativity, including live animals, at Russellville First Baptist Church. Registration strongly advised. Free.

Christmas lights displays in Franklin County include:

  • Christmas at the Bells, 101 Kennerly Road, Phil Campbell, until Dec. 31, 5-10 p.m.
  • Christmas with the McCollums, 5075 Gravel Hill Road, Phil Campbell, until Dec. 31, 5-10 p.m.
  • Childers Christmas Light Show, 3542 Duncan Creek Road, Russellville, until Dec. 31, 5-10 p.m., Radio 88.5 FM.
  • Childers Christmas, 317 Stony Brook Drive, Russellville, until Dec. 31, 5-10 p.m., Radio 96.9 FM.
  • Christmas at City Lake Park, 95 Lake View Drive, Russellville, until Jan. 1.
  • McLean Christmas Lights, 397 Forest Drive, Russellville, until Dec. 31, 5-10 p.m.

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