Johnson Center opens season with tree lighting

Published 3:00 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Johnson Center for the Arts will usher in the Christmas season with its annual Open House and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony from 6 until 8 p.m. Thursday and the public is invited.

Vicki Pritchett, Center executive director, said the Johnson Center will be decked out for Christmas with 10 Christmas trees that have been decorated by school children throughout the county. The Center’s 20-foot Christmas tree was decorated by Charles Henderson High School and will be the focus of the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 7 p.m.

“Troy City Council President Johnny Witherington will do the honors of lighting the Christmas tree and will share the history and significance of the lighting of Christmas trees, ” Pritchett said.

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The Johnson Center’s Open House and Tree Lighting Ceremony will also feature the children’s choirs from several local churches and the choirs from schools from all areas of the county, Pritchett said.

The First United Methodist Choir Children’s Choir will open the holiday song-fest at 6 p.m. followed by Goshen Elementary School’s choir at 6:15 p.m. Pike County Elementary School’s choir will sing from 6:30 until 6:45.

“At 6:45, we will have a special reading of Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ by Quinton Cockrell, who is the assistant professor of performance at Troy University,” Pritchett said. “We are excited and honored to have Quinton Cockrell entertain children and adults alike with the reading of the Christmas classic.”

According to legend, “Twas the Night Before Christmas was composed by Moore on a snowy winter’s day during a shopping trip on a sleigh. Moore’s inspiration for the character St. Nicholas was a local Dutch handyman as well as the historical Saint Nicholas.

Following the Tree Lighting Ceremony, the choirs from Pike Liberal Arts School, First Baptist Church, Banks Middle School and Pike County High School will perform at 15-minute intervals from 7 until 8 p.m.

“We invite parents to bring their young children in pajamas and take advantage of this great opportunity to take photographs in beautiful Christmas setting,” Pritchett said.

The “pop-up” store at the Johnson Center will also be open. The store has a variety of unique items that will make great gifts or just for personal use and pleasure. The Center’s handcrafted 2014 Christmas ornaments will also be on sale.

The Christmas trees will be on display throughout the Christmas season. Dr. Doug Hawkins’ “European Masters” collection is on display in the downstairs gallery.

Johnson Center hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and until 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Admission to the Johnson Center is free.