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September 29, 2016

The Center celebrates holidays with Spirit of Giving tree lighting event

The Bell Tones children’s choir gets some last-minute instructions from one of the choir directors before the group performs at The Center for Rural Development’s annual Spirit of Giving community tree-lighting ceremony. The group of second-, third-, and fourth-grade students from Bell Elementary School in Wayne County performed a selection of Christmas music on Nov. 29 before a crowd of more than 350 guests to help The Center usher in the holiday season.

Bell Tones children's choir performs at The Center's Spirit of Giving community tree lighting.

‘Tis the season for Christmas caroling, decking the halls, and enjoying a classic holiday show, and The Center for Rural Development celebrated all three holiday traditions on Nov. 29 under one roof at its annual Spirit of Giving community tree-lighting ceremony.

More than 350 guests—including Pulaski County judge-executive Barty Bullock and Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler—helped The Center usher in the holiday season and ring in the holidays during an evening of fun and excitement for the entire family.

The cast of “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” holiday performance joined Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, in front of a 20-foot decorated Christmas tree on display in the front lobby to officially turn on the lights for the holiday season.

Earlier in the program, the Bell Tones children’s choir entertained the crowd with a selection of holiday carols. The choir, under the direction of Anita Carolyn Peters and Tammye Sumpter, includes second-, third-, and fourth-grade students from Bell Elementary School in Wayne County.

The Center has joined partnership with Somerset Walmart again this season to help with the store’s Angel Tree project and kicked off the community event to buy toys and clothing for local children in need at its Spirit of Giving tree-lighting program.

A smaller Christmas tree, courtesy of Walmart, will remain in the front lobby of The Center until all of the Angel Tree tags have been removed from the tree. The tags contain basic information about an Angel Tree child and a few items on that child’s Christmas wish list.

One of the cast members from the Children’s Prime Time Theatre holiday performance of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” helps Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center for Rural Development, turns on the lights on The Center’s 20-foot decorated Christmas tree for the holidays. The Center celebrated the arrival of the holiday season with its annual Spirit of Giving tree-lighting ceremony Nov. 29 before a crowd of more than 350 guests—many of whom stayed for an evening performance of the holiday musical, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” presented by Lake Cumberland Performing Arts in partnership with The Center.

Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO, helps to activate the lights on The Center's Christmas tree.

“The Center is fortunate to be able to partner with Somerset Walmart again this year on the Angel Tree project and to help make the holidays a little brighter for the children of Somerset and Pulaski County,” Lawson said. “We still have Angel tree tags available for anyone who would like to purchase Christmas gifts for a child in need and our bright red sleigh next to The Center’s official Christmas tree in the front lobby is just waiting to be filled with gifts for boys and girls.”

The Center, located at 2292 South U.S. 27 (at Traffic Light 15) in Somerset, will again serve as the official drop-out site for all Angel Tree gifts. The Angel Tree tag will need to be attached to the unwrapped gift, which may be dropped off at The Center during normal business hours from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday from now until Dec. 17.

Following the Spirit of Giving tree-lighting event, Lake Cumberland Performing Arts in partnership with The Center presented the Children’s Prime Time Theatre holiday performance of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” inspired by the popular Christmas poem and its author Clement Moore.

The cast of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" performs a scene from the timeless Christams classic.

Cast of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" performs a scene from the play.

The musical, which told the story about how Moore received his inspiration to write the timeless holiday poem, “A Visit from S. Nicholas,” or better known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” drew an audience of slightly more than 600 excited children and guests to the evening performance of Children’s Prime Time Theatre and played to a record number of students earlier that day at two sold-out School Time Theatre performances. Approximately 1,520 students from 15 schools representing seven Kentucky counties learned about the Santa Claus in Moore’s poem.

Refreshments for the Spirit of Giving tree-lighting reception were donated by Walmart and Southern Belle Dairy.

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