Churches kick off Christmas early
A concert, Christmas extravaganza and childrens musical set to stir the holiday spirit
Newberg Christian Churchs Simply Christmas at the North Pole party, which is expected to draw 2,000 to 3,000 people Saturday, may be the biggest event on tap this weekend, but several churches are hosting events to kick off the Christmas season.
Also on tap Thursday will be a special concert featuring pianist Michael Allen Harrison at Northside Community Church, with Newberg Foursquare Church presenting a creative childrens musical Sunday.
Its just a way for families to kick off the Christmas season together, said Kelly Reid, executive minister. The prizes were giving away are fantastic.
Newberg Christian Church has been hosting its Simply Christmas event for years and as its name implies, it was a pretty straightforward gathering, including a bazaar, toy showroom, petting zoo and showcase for elementary and middle school choirs.
The event drew between 500 and 800 people, Reid said, and last year a gingerbread-house-making contest was added.
This year Reid imagined something much bigger, expanding the holiday party into a full tour of North Pole activities and beefing up the slate of entertainment that will run from 3 to 6 p.m.
I thought it would be a cool draw to allow kids and families to come and take a tour of the North Pole. Theres nothing like that, Reid said. Its a great opportunity for the community to have an event where they can kick off Christmas and do something as a family.
In addition to the petting zoo, activities will include watching classic Christmas movies, listening to Christmas stories being read, a live nativity scene, carol singing, decorating cookies, hot chocolate with Mrs. Claus, the holiday bazaar (noon to 6 p.m.), purchasing a Christmas tree from the Boys Scouts, sampling up to 12 varieties of candy canes and taking pictures with Santa.
Santas mail room also promises to be busy as Macys has pledged to donate $1 to the Make a Wish Foundation for every childrens letter written to jolly old St. Nick.
Participants will be given a passport to get stamped at six different activity locations. A completed entry will be drawn at random to win a Segway tour of Portland for two.
The gingerbread-house contest will also feature some top-notch prizes, including a Nexus 7 tablet for first and a Nintendo Wii for second. Other prizes will include four tickets to Bullwinkles Family Fun Center in Wilsonville, a Razor scooter, a Nerf gun and a bicycle.
The entertainment portion of the event, known as Winter Wonderland Studios, will feature emcee Amy Roloff, star of TLCs Little People, Big World reality television series, which began its seventh season in October.
I made a list of local celebrities and she was at the top, Reid said. She is being increasingly generous with her time. Were lucky to have her as a part of this.
In addition, there are performances by students from Ewing Young and Dundee elementary schools, Wee Care preschool and the Mountain View Middle School band and the troup from Comedy Sportz, followed by the announcement of prize winners shortly before 6 p.m.
Harrison will be joined by singer Julianne Johnson at 7 p.m. Thursday for A Christmas to Remember at Northside Community Church.
It will be Northsides first Christmas concert and was sponsored by an anonymous member of the congregation. Admission is free, but donations of canned food will be accepted for the churchs food pantry.
The creator of Ten Grands, an annual fundraiser for music education featuring nine other pianists on 10 pianos, Harrison has released several Christmas albums, including 2010s Christmas Reunion with violinist Aaron Meyer.
Northside will also host a free movie night at 7 p.m. Dec. 13, screening The Polar Express with free popcorn and cookies.
For a more lighthearted affair on Thursday evening, Newberg Foursquare will present a childrens rendition of Dude, Do You Hear What I Hear? at 7 p.m. The musical, written by Steve Moore, Rob Howard and David Guthrie, will be performed by 10 actors and a 20-member choir at 4 and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The musical itself offers a salvation message amid a plot that centers around a trip to the shopping mall.
The crew, including George Fox University music program graduate Kristine Mulkey, has been preparing for the show since August. Linda Dallos is directing the choir, while Newberg High School student Allison Umfleet is helping to put the event together for her senior project.
A free will offering will be taken to benefit needy children around the world, possibly in the Phillipines through Samaritan Purse, but a charity has not yet been selected.
Theyve been working every weekend, organizer Kim Lopez said. Its really rewarding, but a lot of work. Its well worth it. When you get it done, its so fun and great to see the kids, whove worked so hard to achieve something.