McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 29, 2013

Christmas on the Hill to be packed with sights and events

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Volunteers who have put together the Christmas on the Hill program for Saturday night (Nov. 30) hope it will start a new tradition in the McAlester area.

The program includes the first annual Christmas on the Hill Walking Tour, Teddy Bear Parade and Community Christmas Tree Lighting.

“Come and enjoy the music and spirit of Christmas,” said Dr. Bert Thomas, president of the Puterbaugh Center, and a chief organizer for the event.

Plans call for the Walking Tour to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, with participants in the Teddy Bear Parade set to gather at 7 p.m., followed by the parade and then the Community Christmas Tree Lighting at the Puterbaugh Center.

A number of participants have signed on to conduct activities along the Walking Tour. Plans call for the Walking Tour to be placed along East Adams Avenue and East Washington Avenue, from Second Street to Fifth Street.

“We’ve got 25 groups to participate in the Walking Tour,” Thomas said. By participants, Thomas meant those who were setting up activities along the Walking Tour.

Some of the activities will be inside, while others will be set up outside, along the Walking Tour route.

“We have some churches and some individuals, everything from choirs, to bell-ringers to an ugly sweater contest,” Thomas said.

Plans call for streets along the route to remain closed, with a few exceptions.

Third Street will be open to allow drivers to have access to parking lots at Brumley Gymnasium and S. Arch Thompson Auditorium, according to Thomas.

Plans call for those who are participating in the Teddy Bear Parade to begin assembling at 7 p.m. when the McAlester Fire Department sounds a siren, likely from the gravel parking lot at S. Arch Thompson Auditorium.

“Children of all ages” wanting to take part in the parade will then gather on Second Street — which will be closed to traffic —between the old McAlester High School and S. Arch Thompson Auditorium.

The children are encouraged to bring teddy bears or other  stuffed animals and to bring wagons, which they can decorate, if they wish.

“They can come dressed in their Christmas finery,” Thomas said.

The parade will travel east on Adams Avenue, from Second Street to Fifth Street, where parade-goers will enter the Puterbuagh Center.

“It should really be something,” Thomas said.

Right before the corner of Adams Avenue and Fifth Street, parade participants will make a left onto the grounds of the Puterbaugh Center for the Community Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

“Children from all of the McAlester elementary schools are coming together as one big choir,” Thomas said, with plans for the choir to welcome those entering the grounds of the Puterbaugh Center.

Plans are for the song “Silent Night” to be presented through a special musical arrangement, with those present joining in song.

A ‘mystery person” who has had an impact on McAlester will be introduced and that individual will light the tree, Thomas said.

The singing of another carol will follow the lighting of the tree.

Volunteers who put the event together are hoping McAlester residents as well as those from the surrounding area provide a substantial turnout for what they would like to see become an annual event.

“We are hoping people can come together and do activities like this for the community and for the children,”  Thomas said.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.