Mary Shannon new

Every year after the crowd is gone and the Community Center cleaned up, I am flooded with a sense of pride for my little town. Each year I say the same thing, “this is the best Christmas Festival we have had so far!” If you were not able to make it to town Dec. 4, let me give you a recap of what you missed!

Between 3 and 3:30 p.m., 10 master chili makers brought their chili to be entered in the FOC Annual Chili Cook-off! The judges had a difficult time coming up with a winner, because it was all so good, but in the end Crystal Buckner was awarded the Golden Ladle Award along with the $50 prize.

At 4 p.m., the Community Center doors were opened to the public. Bowls of chili and hotdogs were free for the taking. A total of 85 children were given goodie bags and had the opportunity to write a letter to Santa after eating. All letters that were dropped in the special mailbox will be receiving a personal letter back from Santa in the next few weeks!

Starting at 4:45 p.m., the children went in two groups to the library were local librarian Arlene Reynolds read a spirited rendition of “The Night Before Christmas” and had a craft for the kids to take home! After visiting the library children were invited to learn to limbo and participate in organized games outside.

The event was geared toward the children, but organizers did not forget about the adults. Steve Craney was kind enough to donate the use of the old Variety Store that he recently purchased for eight vendors to set up in. Parents were able to do a little Christmas shopping while their children enjoyed the library activities.

A raffle was also held to benefit the FOC Hidden Gem Scholarship. Three lucky ladies were happy to walk away with new designer bags!

Devin Hamilton, founder of Hero’s Helping Hearts, also brought free informational materials and a basket to be auctioned off to benefit his organization. The mission of this group is to focus on improved mental health and suicide prevention. This group is relatively new, but already is making a positive difference in our community. They were responsible for distributing 348 Thanksgiving meals for those in need in Rush, Henry, and Shelby counties.

Owen Newkirk and Quentin Adads added to the festive mood by providing live entertainment. Christmas songs were played by Quentin on his sax and Owen sang and played Christmas favorites on the guitar. Both teens were a pleasure to listen to and a great addition to the program! (I also heard tips were donated to the Hero’s Helping Heart Fund.) Both young men did an outstanding job and the FOC is proud of their involvement in their community.

The fire truck sirens were heard at six o’clock signaling the event many were waiting for, Santa and the Lighted Parade were about to roll down Main Street. Santa rode on the firetruck followed by 10 (yes, it will be bigger next year) jeeps, tractors, and ATVs all lit with Christmas lights and decorations.

Once the parade route was complete Santa was escorted to the gazebo for the lighting of the town tree. Lucky Levi Armstong had the goodie bag that indicated that he was this year’s winner and was given the job of hitting the switch to light the tree.

Next, the line was formed and Santa started getting down to his most important jobs of the day, giving out candy and hearing what the children were asking for Christmas this year.

A special thanks goes to the Future of Carthage for sponsoring this event, The Kids of Carthage for organizing the Lighted Parade, the participants in the chili cook off, the workers and musicians who selflessly gave their time and talents, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the residents of Carthage whose participation made this another special town event!

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