Alton pastor Charlie Trantham pondered with a friend recently how to include the community in a Christmas event when the two considered an all-church live nativity downtown.
"It was her idea, really," Trantham said of Oregon County Deputy County Clerk Sally Robbins' suggestion to recruit choirs and actors from Alton-area churches to participate in a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn.
Trantham and Robbins teamed up to organize the month-long event, which will include a children's choir, community carollers, narration of the Christmas story, Nativity actors and a host of angels and shepherds.
Trantham, pastor of Alton Freewill Baptist Church, put out the call to all area churches for volunteers. With enough response, the pair hopes to present the nativity scene from 6-7:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 22 and 23.
Also, following the Christmas parade from 12:30-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, Alton Freewill Baptist and Alton United Methodist church members will present the Nativity and sing carols.
Victory Freewill Baptist and Many Springs churches will perform Dec. 3. Victory Freewill Baptist will also perform at 6 p.m. Dec. 4, and Alton First Baptist Church will perform Dec. 11.
So far, volunteers have filled the roster for much of the first two weekends, although more are needed for the performances as planned, Robbins said.
"There are probably 50 churches in the county," Trantham said. "Even if they only have one or two who can help, if we put them all together, we could have one big group."
Trantham said his church has some costumes, but could use more. Volunteers to help clean up after each performance also are needed.
Robbins said she has never been involved with a live nativity before, but enjoys them and thought the event would be appreciated in Alton. The first performance will coincide with the second annual Christmas on the Square, a nighttime store open house.
Co-organizer Benita Casey, owner of Benita's Cafe, said she and Sherry Fohey decided last year to bring back the Christmas on the Square event after it was not held in 2008. For many years, the Alton Chamber of Commerce organized the event.
Besides six retail stores on the square, at least six vendors will have booths open around the square during the 6-8 p.m. event on Friday, Dec. 3. Many retailers will offer refreshments and host drawings for door prizes. Alton school choirs will sing carols.
To participate in the live nativity, donate costumes or sing carols, call Rev. Charlie Trantham at 417-270-0097 or Sally Robbins at 417-293-4289.
For booth rental or other information about Christmas on the Square in Alton, call Benita Casey at 417-778-7711 or Sherry Fohey at 417-252-3829.