McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 13, 2013

Plans looking up for Christmas on the Hill

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — With Thanksgiving a little more than two weeks away, plans continue to develop for the Christmas on the Hill celebration in McAlester.

That’s because  Christmas on the Hill is set for Nov. 30., the Saturday night following this year’s Nov. 28 Thanksgiving holiday.

Organizers planned it that way for a couple of reasons.

One, they figured it will be a great way to get the community involved in the beginning of the Christmas season.

They also planned it not to conflict with other holiday weekend events in McAlester as the Christmas season draws near.

Highlights of the Christmas on the Hill celebration are expected to include the children’s Teddy bear parade and the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree at the Puterbaugh Center.

Also included in the plans is a walking tour, basically in the area extending from Second Street to Fifth Street along Washington Avenue and Adams Avenue, with the Festival of Trees at the Rainbow Temple on Carl Albert Parkway also included.

The idea is to have choirs, singers, actors, readers, storytellers and others along the route, with plans still being finalized on that part of the project. A Christmas movie showing is also in the planning stages.

Plans call for the McAlester Fire Department to sound a siren at 7 p.m., probably from the gravel parking lot at S. Arch Thompson Auditorium, calling for the children to gather for the parade.

“Children of all ages” who will be participating in the parade will then gather on Second Street — which will be closed to traffic — between S. Arch Thompson Auditorium and the old McAlester High School, organizers said. They are encouraged to bring a Teddy bear or other stuffed animals, as well as wagons if they wish.

Around 7:20 p.m., the Teddy bear parade is set to commence east along Adams Avenue to the Puterbaugh Center at 345 E. Adams Ave., according to organizers of the event.

The parade will make its way to the Puterbaugh Center, where a brief program is planned, including the singing of a couple of Christmas carols prior to the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree, organizers said.

Volunteers have been working hard to make the program a success.

 Dr. Bert Thomas, of the Puterbaugh Center has been working with a number of groups and individuals who are committed to making the event a success. He said he’s pleased at the quality of the program and how the right people have come together to make it possible.

While this year will be the inaugural Christmas on the Hill event in McAlester, Thomas said it could be the beginning of something special.

“We hope it will continue in this spirit for years to come,” he said.

Volunteers attending a Nov. 6 planning meeting at the Puterbaugh Center included Thomas, Pam Kirby, of the city of McAlester; Community Choir conductor Rodney Briggs; Kathy Wall, of the city of McAlester; David Steidley, McAlester High School band instructor; volunteer James Prince, of the Gaines Creek Association of Free Will Baptist Churches, and Carol Janisch, of the McAlester Fire Department.

“It’s a good way to kick off the Christmas season,” Prince  said.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.