, Muskogee, OK

December 6, 2012

Santa story benefits museum

‘The Singing Santas’ tells story of Kris Kringle

By Leilani Roberts Ott
Phoenix Correspondent

— Here comes Santa Claus times three — with an elf.

It’s all part of the fun as Three Rivers Museum presents “The Singing Santas” at 7 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 15 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 16.

Admission is $10 with proceeds benefiting the museum. You also can have your photo taken with Santa for $5. A tour of the museum is included. Seating is limited to 50. Refreshments will be served at intermission.

“The Singing Santas” tells the story of Kris Kringle through songs, stories and multi-media. The two-act show, featuring familiar favorites and original songs, brings the jolly old elf to life starting with his early days as St. Nicholas and journeying through the transformation to modern Santa Claus.

Museum director Sue Tolbert came up with the idea and shared it with museum volunteer Michael Dunn, a voice and piano teacher. He started working on a selection of music and narration in August.

The three singing Santas are Dunn, Billy Gardner and Jeremy Jones. Forest Collins, the elf, is the accompanist.

Nate Tolbert, Tolbert’s grandson, has put together the multi-media show that will start 20 minutes before the Santas sing, using photos and video clips of Christmases in Muskogee from years past. One is of Santa delivering gifts in 1898. Some of the photos are from the museum archives collected by Roger Bell, chairman of the museum board.

“It’s an event that will put you in the Christmas spirit — don’t miss it,” Dunn said. “From shopping woes to holiday burnout, children’s letters to the true meaning of Christmas, audiences will be entertained.”

The show starts with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with the Santas doing some “corny dances” and will end with some sacred song selections like “O Holy Night” and the reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. At the end, the audience will sing along with “Silent Night” while two of the Santas sing “Peace, Peace.”

“’Silent Night’ is the ultimate Christmas song,” Dunn said.

He believes like “Silent Night” and “Jesus Loves Me” are the two most important songs we need to know.

While guests are at the museum, Tolbert hopes they will reminisce about their childhood with the old toys and decorations while leaning about Muskogee’s history. The museum celebrates the area’s history in the restored 1916 Midland Valley Depot. The museum has different exhibits featured from the water and railroad trader history of the Three Forks area. A Christmas tree in the corner of the railroad area will have ornaments related to trains.

A doll from the Singer Sewing Center store front in the 1950s, a rocking horse from 1940s and a dolphin that belonged to Bell from the 1960s are just a few of the toys you’ll see. The toys are under a Christmas tree in the lobby. The ornaments on the tree are old, too.

The museum has 22 lighted trees, rows of garland and red ribbon, snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and several large groupings of Christmas villages. The villages are on loan from Janie Riddle. They belonged to her mother, the late Frances Ashwood. There’s a downtown with billboards, a neighborhood with tiny bicycles, a school and church.

In another area of the museum, “Miss Alice’s Parlor” has a life-size mannequin. She is formed to be hanging an ornament on a tree. Old toys are on a piano given to the museum from Hyde Park Baptist Church that no longer meets. Tolbert said Alice Robertson was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1920 from Oklahoma and only the second in the nation. She was 66. She also was the first woman postmistress.

“The decorating looks great,” said Tolbert who has worked at the museum six years. “This is the best the museum has looked at Christmastime. I’m excited about ‘The Singing Santas.’ I heard them rehearse and they are really good.”

It’s a first-time event for the museum.

“I think it will speak to people this season,” Dunn said.



If you go

WHAT: “The Singing Santas.”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 15 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 16 with a multi-media show starting 20 minutes before showtime.

WHERE: Three Rivers Museum, 220 Elgin St.

TICKETS: $10, limited to 50 per show, available at the museum in advance from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday or at the door. Refreshments and a tour of the museum are included.

PROCEEDS: All ticket money will go to operating expenses.

INFORMATION: (918) 686-6624 or