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JCA hosts annual holiday display

The history of Christmas trees goes back to the symbolic use of evergreens in ancient Egypt and Rome and continued with the German tradition of candlelit Christmas trees first brought to America in the 1800s.

The Johnson Center for the Arts has long regarded the decorated Christmas tree, not only as a symbol of Christmas, but as an evergreen canvas for various art forms.

Brenda Campbell, JCA director, said each year, the arts center invites students at schools around the county to decorate one of eight Christmas trees featured in the JCA’s Christmas Tree Extravaganza. Each of the trees is decorated with handmade ornaments based on a chosen theme.

“The students always come up with unique ways to decorate their Christmas trees,” Campbell said. “This year is no exception. The trees are cleverly decorated with handmade ornaments. Each tree has a story to tell about a specific subject and in unique ways.”

To add even more interest as the trees are viewed, the JCA is encouraging visitors to vote for their favorite Christmas tree, at a dollar a vote. The winning school will receive a $100 donation to be used to purchase supplies for their school’s art department.

“It would be very hard to pick a favorite Christmas tree,” Campbell said. “The artwork is unique in carrying out the theme of the tree and there is no limit to the creativity.  They are all fun Christmas trees. It would be hard to pick a favorite.

But a favorite will be chosen and, at this time, Campbell said Pike Liberal Arts is in the lead, but narrowly.

The schools that decorated Christmas trees for the JCA 2020 Christmas Extravaganza are: Banks Primary, Covenant Christian, Goshen Elementary, Home Schoolers, Pike County Elementary Kindergarten, Palooca, Pike Liberal Arts School Troy City Schools and Troy University.

Jo Harvell’s Chrismon tree is a JCA tradition and a highlight of the Christmas Tree Extravaganza.

“All of the Christmas trees are unique in their creativity and the artwork is outstanding,” Campbell said.

Goshen’s tree is titled a “Corky Christmas” and is decorated with a variety of corky reindeer and corky Santas with marshmallow beards.

Banks Primary chose Melodies as the theme for its tree.

Their tree features the melodies of Christmas with ringing bells made from paper cups and stars made from popsicle sticks. Reindeer with jingling bells bring merriment to the tree.

“Pike County kindergarteners chose one of their favorite activities as a way to decorate their tree. Their coloring book pages tell the story of Christmas in colorful; and fun ways,” Campbell said.

Covenant Christian School chose to a more global theme for their Christmas tree.

“The Covenant Christian tree is themed, Hygge, which is a Danish and Norwegian term that means, comfort and warmth,” Campbell said.

The tree features snowflakes and cozy items of Christmas. The tree is topped with a star made from wooden spatulas.

Home schoolers around the county depict what Christmas would be like on the open range.

Their tree is decorated with bandannas, cotton bolls, stars made from twigs and mangers constructed with popsicle sticks.

Pike Liberal Arts students chose to decorate their tree with wish lists to Santa. Their wishes included baby dolls, four-wheelers, a puppy and a thousand dollars.

The City of Troy Christmas tree features grades K-12. The 22-foot tree showcases the talents from lollypoppers to high schoolers who prefer cups of hot chocolate around a crackling fire. The artwork showcases artwork from students of all ages.

Troy University’s tree traces the history of the university with ornaments that highlight the university name changes, divisional moves in athletics, the dedication of new buildings and historical campus events.

Campbell said Harvell’s Chrismon Tree is a mainstay at the JCA’ Christmas Tree Extravaganza.

“The Chrismon Tree tells the real story of Christmas,” Campbell said. “The Chrismons are ancient symbols of Christ’s ministry, including a descending dove, fish, different crosses, a shepherd’s crook, chalice, shells and others.”

With Christmas just a week away and everyone masking and keeping social distance, the Johnson Center for the Arts is a fun, interesting and safe way enjoy the holidays.

The JCA will be open on Monday and Tuesday, December 21 and 22 and on December 28 and 29 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Admission is free and everyone is invited.