Hoping for the holidays

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

While retailers may get a jump on the rest of us, for many, Thanksgiving typically ushers in an annual six-week holiday season. Throughout Lawrence County and the Tri-State, a number of civic organizations and business groups have planned activities in celebration. From parades to light displays to church tours,

residents can follow the trail of activities from one end of the Tri-State to the other to find their holiday cheer.

Ironton's celebrations of the season

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On Wednesday, the city's annual inter-faith Thanksgiving Eve service will be at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church. The annual event brings together people of all denominations to share an evening of reflection and thankfulness.

&#8220It's a service in which everyone can come together and give thanks, not only as individual congregations but as a community,” said the Rev. Mike Poole, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church and one of the organizers of the event.

The ecumenical choir will provide music, along with the duet of Susan Taylor and Herb Rose and solo selections by Vickie Hull. The Rev. Anthony Batt, president of the Ironton Ministerial Association, will be guest speaker.

An offering will be taken for the Ironton City Mission.

For those who want to express their love for the holidays with a little personal flair are invited to decorate a parking meter downtown. Sponsored by the Ironton Business Association and the Ironton Cooperative Club, the idea is to deck the halls, or maybe streets, in festive style and show support for the community.

Those who are interested in decorating a parking meter may contact any IBA or Co-op Club member.

The Ironton Christmas parade, sponsored by the Ironton Lions Club, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 28.

Lions Club member and parade organizer Lou Pyles said the parade draws a few thousand people each year who line the parade route and watch the holiday procession pass.

&#8220A lot of parents and grandparents come to see their kids and grandkids and people come to see their friends participate,” she said. &#8220We're hoping for good weather.”

Saving the best for last, Santa Claus will be the parade's grand finale. But Pyles said those who come early can find Santa on the One-Stop parking lot on Second Street just before the parade.

&#8220He'll be standing there with a few helpers. Santa loves to see the children and they can bring their wish lists and tell Santa what they want for Christmas,” Pyles said.

One of the most popular holiday events is the annual Church Walk, sponsored by the Lawrence County Historical Society. The tour of some of Ironton's oldest houses of worship begins at 5 p.m. Dec. 3 at First Baptist Church, on Fifth and Vernon streets and ends at the museum. Along the way, participants will visit Christ Episcopal Church, First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. Paul's Lutheran Church, St. Lawrence O'Toole Catholic Church, Gateway Baptist Church and Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Music groups from Ohio University Southern and Rock Hill High School will play holiday selections as tour goers make their way between the churches. The path from church to church will be lit with candles and museum members in period costumes will lead the way.

A Coal Grove Christmas

The village of Coal Grove will have its very own parade this year at 6 p.m on Dec. 2 . Sponsored by the Coal Grove Betterment Club, the parade will kick off the community's slate of holiday activities.

&#8220We'll start at the town house and march down (State Route 243 to the (Paul Porter) park and then we'll turn on the lights to the displays at the park,” Betterment Club president Sue Triplett said. &#8220Afterward we'll have hot cocoa and cookies and Santa will be there.”

As for the park, Triplett said its displays are bigger and better than ever.

&#8220We have more this year,” she said. &#8220We have a big sleigh and reindeer pulling it, and we have more things that light up.”

On Dec. 10, the Betterment Club and the Coal Grove Lions Club will sponsor the annual Breakfast with Santa at the Dawson-Bryant cafetorium. Judging from the turnout each year, nothing draws the little ones - and their parents- quite like a visit from the jolly fat man.

&#8220We usually make up treat bags for 300,” Triplett said. &#8220They get to talk to Santa and then they get their treat bag. That's what Christmas is all about, those kids. It makes me feel good when I see them standing there, their eyes great big, waiting to see Santa.”

A Chesy Christmas

&#8220We give everyone the holidays off,” Chesapeake Area Citizens Coalition President Dick Gilpin joked, when asked about holiday celebrations in his village.

All kidding aside, Chesy residents are at least ready for the holidays, even if they don't get six weeks vacation from work: The Christmas lights went up at Triangle Park Saturday. The official tree lighting ceremony will be 6 p.m. Dec. 1. Childrens' choirs from the Chesapeake schools will provide the musical nod to the season and refreshments will follow the entertainment. Santa Claus will make an appearance as well.

Gilpin said the tree lighting ceremony is the start of

the holiday celebration for Chesapeake area residents.

&#8220It just kind of sets the mood,” he said.

Across the river

The Russell, Ky., Christmas parade will be Dec. 1. The theme for this year's parade will be &#8220Always at Home for the Holidays in Russell, Ky.” The grand marshal will be World War II veteran Clyde Price Meadows, who will be accompanied by his wife, Virginia. The parade begins at 7 p.m. downtown.Across the Ohio River, the Ashland, Ky., Christmas parade, sponsored by the Winter Wonderland of Lights Committee, will feature 140 entries and a two-hour-long procession.

Paula Mayo, administrative assistant for the Ashland Alliance, said this year's parade will include 12 costumed storybook characters who will greet children along the parade route.

The Ashland Christmas parade is at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The theme this year is &#8220A Storybook Christmas.”

Ashland's holiday celebration got under way last week with the kickoff to the annual Winter Wonderland of Lights. Each year 40 displays with more than 750,000 lights brighten Ashland's Central Park.

Mayo said while all the familiar holiday displays are back again this year, the Winter Wonderland committee has added some new, non-holiday displays to pique interest.

&#8220We've got a Jurassic display,” Mayo said. &#8220We've got palm trees and dinosaurs. The kids are going to absolutely love it.”

Another addition is a dolphin display near the Central Park pond.

&#8220From the street it looks like dolphins are leaping into the pond,” Mayo said.

Again this year, young and old can take a miniature train ride around the park. The Winter Wonderland Express, operates Friday through Sunday between 6 and 9 p.m. Santa also will be available for a visit between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the log house in Central Park.

The annual Festival of Trees began Saturday and continues through Nov. 27.

Tickets for the festival are $6 for adults, $3 seniors and students. Children under 3 are admitted for free. Hours are daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. though the week and on Sundays from Noon to 10 p.m.; Thanksgiving Day 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Teresa Moore is a staff writer for The Ironton Tribune, she can be reached at teresa.moore@irontontribune.com.