The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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December 2, 2012

Making merry at the annual Christmas parade

BECKLEY — The sun shone brightly and temperatures nearly reached 60 degrees Saturday, but Uptown Beckley was generating its own holiday cheer with its annual Christmas parade, “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

This year the spectacle was huge with 27 floats, more than a dozen classic cars, six bands and a plethora of police, ambulance and fire vehicles.

Seeing Santa in the parade wasn’t enough for the more than 500 parade spectators who made their way up the street for Beckley Presbyterian Church’s 11th annual “Christmas Music After the Parade.”

Church member Cindy Worley said the concert, which features area high school bands and choirs, is “a great place to showcase the talents of our students.”

Although it could have been spring weather outside, “We have all kinds of people wearing their bright red and green. How can you not have The Christmas Spirit when you are listening to the Christmas carols we all love?” asked Worley.

Trap Hill Middle School Chorus, Meadow Bridge High School Band and Chorus and Beckley Presbyterian Church Handbell Choir were all featured at the concert.

Beckley Presbyterian Church’s minister, the Rev. John McKinnon, commented, “Music After the Parade is an outreach we do for the community. We want to give these kids, who have practiced and worked so hard developing the gifts God has given them, a chance to perform. It is a joy to be able to offer this.”

Outside the church, Cheryl McGill and Sue and Art Shaffer were handing out hot chocolate and cookies to concert goers.

They were already on their sixth gallon of hot chocolate.

“This really helps people get into the spirit. Every year people love to see the parade and then come and hear the children sing,” McGill said. “It just goes to show that if we just open ourselves up to the spirit, we can feel the season.”

Inside, church elder Jørn Otte was working in an Alternative Christmas Market featuring wares by fair trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages.

Ten Thousand Villages offers gifts, decor items and accessories that are handcrafted by fairly paid artisans from around the world.

Otte explained that the church has held an alternative market for five years, but this is the first time it has been held in conjunction with the Christmas parade and concert.

“We just want to have the opportunity for more people in the community to come in and see what Ten Thousand Villages is all about,” he explained. “I think the organization itself is really great, but I also just like that the Beckley community can see a variety of items from around the world that they would not ordinarily get to see.”

Holiday activities continue next weekend with Christmas at Wildwood from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 9.

Wildwood is located off South Kanawha Street across from Memorial Baptist Church.

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