New and old traditions at Down Home Christmas

By Laura Fowler Paulus/Free Press

Hillsboro’s Down Home Christmas is happening this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. While some of the festivities will look the same as in years past, many different organizations and individuals have pulled together to revamp the annual event and make it even better than it has been.

One of the newest additions is a live nativity scene.

“The Methodist Church is loaning us their costumes. Some community members have volunteered to build a small set for it, and there are various people bringing in their animals,” said Staci Silhan, a member of the Hillsboro Convention and Visitors Bureau Committee. “All of these different people and churches are coming together to make it happen. It’s not just a church thing, but everyone is helping.”

The live nativity scene will be located in the courtyard of Emprise Bank. It will be there for people to come and go from 4-6p.m.

Another new event will be the telling of the Story of St. Nickolas by the Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Christian Church. This will be from 4-6 p.m. at Farha’s Carpet and Building Supply.

“We are trying to get more involved in the community which has led to our participating for the first time in Down Home Christmas. We are bringing something that is pretty unique to our community of faith which is the story of the real St. Nickolas, who was a real pastor who went on to become a celebrated servant of the church,” said Frank Johnson, member of the Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Christian Church. “We will have someone dressed in the traditional clothing that St. Nickolas wore and they will tell the story of his life for about 5-8 minutes. At the end, there will be a special gift for the kids who come and hear the story.”

There has been a tree in the past, but it has been several years so those working on the Down Home Christmas are bringing back the tradition. The town is getting a new Christmas tree similar to the one at Rockefellar Center thanks to several generous donors. The prelit, artificial tree is 12 feet tall, and more two feet pieces can be ordered down the road as donations come in to grow the tree even taller.

“We could potentially grow the tree up to 50 feet tall,” said Silhan.

The tree lighting ceremony will begin around 5:30 with the actual lighting at 6 p.m. There will be a time of singing and spoken word and then all will be led in singing “Silent Night” as the tree is lit. The singing will be led by Holly Nickel and band members from Grace Community Church.

“We feel blessed to be able to worship the ultimate reason for the season which is the birth of Jesus. We want to also have fun and sing Christmas songs that everyone will know so we can come together as a community,” said Nickel.

“We want to thank Emprise Bank for donating the electricity for the tree lighting,” said Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce Director Lena Hall.

There will be various musical groups helping out with music. Grace is bringing a full band to play Christmas songs. Trinity Church will be having a group of carolers. Durham Baptist Church is also coming and helping out with music.

There will still be many of the events of years past including free carriages rides up and down Main Street. Home-based businesses will be available for all to shop from as well in various buildings along Main Street.

There will also be plenty for the children such as crafts at Hillsboro Hardware and in the back room of Kesslers as well as free face painting at the Cut Above. The Library will hold a story time from 10-11 a.m. And Santa will be available at the Et Cetera shop from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The bowling alley will be open for all ages. This is a great place for those in the family not shopping to spend their time.

There will also be food and drinks for sale at Rhubarb Market. And there will be a dinner available for purchase at the Hillsboro City Building from 4-6 p.m.

Much hard work has gone into making the Down Home Christmas a success.

“We are so thankful for everyone who has played a part,” said Silhan.

If you want to check out the various joint efforts the community has put into having this festive event, head on downtown on Saturday.

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