By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Who says you have to live in a big city to celebrate the holidays in a big way? Shinnston will prove that community size has no bearing on celebrations this Saturday as several events will take place during the evening to usher in the Christmas season.
It is no secret that parades – regardless of the weather – draw spectators who line the full length of Pike Street in Shinnston for any occasion. And this Saturday, once again, the City of Shinnston will feature its annual Christmas Parade beginning at 6 p.m. No doubt traveling the furthest – all the way from the North Pole – will be Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be featured in the parade. They will proceed to the stage area at the corner of Pike and Main Streets following the parade to participate in the lighting of the community’s Christmas tree, a tradition that began last year thanks to the efforts of the Shinnston Volunteer Fire Department.
This year, during a week that offered pleasant, warmer weather, the Shinnston Lions Club got involved, put up, secured and decorated a 12-foot pre-lit artificial tree that was donated to the City by the Gary Wright family. The ceremonial lighting will take place immediately following the parade.
Watch and listen for carolers from the Vintage Theatre Company who will stroll the downtown area during these proceedings offering many traditional holiday carols.
Community residents and visitors are encouraged to then make their way to the First Baptist Church’s Lighthouse on Rebecca Street to enjoy the Shinnston Community Band’s 21st annual Christmas Concert.
According to SCB President Richard Herndon, the all- volunteer orchestra is growing and is now 78-members strong. They have been rehearsing for their winter concert weekly for several months now.
Mr. Herndon said the band will be presenting a ‘mixed bag’ of music during this year’s concert. “Of course it will include many popular Christmas tunes, but with a few additions. For example, with the Olympics coming up in just a few months, we thought it would be appropriate to include a patriotic piece, so we’ll also be playing a number called Summon the Heroes, a piece written by renowned conductor/composer John Williams especially for the Olympics.”
As always, expect it to be a phenomenal concert! SCB’s growing membership is a testament to the quality of the group. Consisting of both young and older members … both amateurs and professionals … they all have one distinct commonality – their love of music.
“We have quite a large footprint in West Virginia,” Herndon added. “We have people from all walks of life who participate, and many of them have a great deal of travel time involved, but it is not a deterrent. We have many members who come from outside Harrison County; we have people who travel from Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Barbour, Upshur and Tucker Counties as well. And remember that they are all doing this voluntarily, so that certainly speaks well of our organization.”
Mike Cale still remains the musical director and Herndon said he hopes that Cale will remain for a long time to come because he has done a lot to help the band improve.
The Shinnston Community Band has also been invited to present its holiday concert in Buckhannon at The Way of Holiness Church on Rt. 33 on Sunday, Dec. 3rd at 2:30 p.m.
“We want to see the band keep going for years to come and to continue to grow,” Herndon concluded. “The Shinnston Community Band shines a very bright light on our community, showing that we have a deep appreciation for the arts. We hope everyone will come out and enjoy this year’s concert.”
SCB is a non-profit organization, so donations to the band are always appreciated. Because grants are often hard to come by, donations are vital to the band’s continued existence. Contributions are tax-deductible and can be made the night of the concert or by contacting a band member through SCB’s Facebook page.
Be sure to mark this Saturday evening’s events on your calendar and join other local residents as the community welcomes the holiday spirit to Shinnston.
The atmosphere will be merry and a little brighter this Saturday evening when Santa flips the switch to light the community’s Christmas tree following the 6 p.m. downtown parade.