By Travis Sloat
Laughter, singing and bells rang through the Christian Life Center of Muskogee First Baptist Church on Wednesday night as the church put on its fourth annual Christmas Village.
Randy Holt, the music minister of FBC Muskogee, said the idea behind the village is to share the church’s seasonal excitement with the community.
“We have a great joy because of the birth of Christ,” Holt said. “Each night we have different performers come and entertain the people in attendance. This year, we have several local schools and two dance studios coming in.”
Village patrons have the opportunity to sample wares from candy shop, a flower shop, a craft shop and more, as well as have their picture taken with full costume in the photography studio.
Abby Faulk, an 8-year-old from Muskogee, said she was happy First Baptist Church put the event on every year.
“I just played in the snowball room,” Faulk said. “Now I’m going to the popcorn house. So far, I like the snowball room better, but it’s not the same as real snowballs. The whole village is a lot of fun because of all the activities they have.”
There is no cost for the event, and Holt encouraged all of Muskogee to come out and enjoy the festivities each night.
“It’s tough to estimate total attendance, but we went through 500 cups of hot chocolate last night alone,” Holt said. “I’d say we have 400 to 500 people here each night.”
The week ends at 6 p.m. Sunday, when First Baptist has invited the entire community to its family “ChristmaSing.” It will take place in the worship center, and people are encouraged to wear red and green as they come to sing carols.
Mike Gilmore, a Muskogee resident, said he’s been to the Christmas Village each year it has been put on.
“I have one daughter, and she loves it,” Gilmore said. “I enjoy it, too. I like the atmosphere. The church is also well suited to the event because of the space they have. I think it’s a great outreach to the Muskogee community.”
The Christian Life Center is transformed from a basketball court to a 1920s Victorian village for the week, replete with cardboard storefronts and plenty of Christmas lights. The authenticity is not lost on many of the kids, who walk around staring up at the brightly lit rooms.
Holt said the outreach is something he hopes the church will continue indefinitely.
“We got word of a family whose kids saw the sign for the event, and they were excited about it,” Holt said. “We want to provide our community with a safe and fun holiday outing, and we wish them all a very Merry Christmas.”
If you go
WHAT: Fourth annual Christmas Village
WHERE: First Baptist Church, Eighth Street and Okmulgee Avenue
WHEN: 6 to 8:30 p.m. through Saturday.