Christmas Traditions in Evergreen, Alabama
Sherry S. Johnston
Genealogist/Historian Evergreen-Conecuh Co. Public Library
No one is left out in Evergreen Alabama when it comes to celebrating Christmas—from your companion animals, children, and the elderly citizens, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
My favorites include The Christmas Journey—a live nativity scene presented by the members of the Community of Christ Church on the corner of Rural and Martin Streets a block from Historic Downtown Evergreen one weekend out of the month of December. The church members dress up as members of that Nativity scene of long-ago with live animals; visitors can drive by or park and get out and walk along the sidewalk with luminaries lighting their way. This is a project in which the church members give back to their community—a gift to Evergreen—every year. What a blessing this is to all of us! Contact Diane Sosebee at 251.578.2350 for more information.
My second favorite tradition is the Official Lighting of the Christmas Tree downtown in No Man’s Land—when all the townspeople get out and celebrate the beginning of the Christmas Season, usually after the Annual Christmas Parade held early in December. Local choirs and talented musicians join with community members, singing Christmas Carols, and joining hands for a prayer for a safe and blessed Christmas for everyone. Contact the Chamber of Commerce at 251.578.1707 for more information.
Getting to see Santa Claus is a big hit with the children in our community, and this is always fun during the Annual Christmas Parade. Local businesses, organizations, churches, students, and individuals decorate a float, car or truck in the selected theme each year. This parade is sponsored by the local Evergreen/Conecuh County Chamber of Commerce, with prizes awarded to winners in several categories. Santa usually rides atop the fire truck at the end of the parade, stops off at the Historic Evergreen Depot to chat with the children and a list of what they want for Christmas. Contact the Chamber of Commerce at 251.578.1707.
One of the fun parts of Christmas to me is seeing the Christmas Greeting from The Evergreen Courant every year. They publish this in the last edition before Christmas and it includes photographs of the children and grandchildren of the employees of The Courant. It is always fun to see these pictures of the younger members of The Courant Family, and comparing it to those from long-ago Christmases past when the Editor always published it. This is a tradition I hope they continue to practice! Another way that the local newspaper drum up holiday spirit is to publish Letters to Santa from the school children in our local schools—what fun it is to read these wonderful letters to Santa! Contact Cheryl Johnston at 251.578.1492 for more information.
The local Conecuh County Humane Society sponsors a Santa Paws event to have photographs made with your pet and Santa Claus—the pets and the owners get into the holiday spirit by dressing up and having their photograph made with Santa. This is also a fun fund-raiser for the local humane society and it makes a great gift! Contact Duann Brown at 251.578.4352 for more information
Being in the hospital is no fun, especially during the Holidays, however, if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with an excellent Sunshine Volunteer Program like Evergreen Medical Center is, then you will enjoy participating in their Annual Tree of Lights Ceremony where the volunteers decorate a tree in the hospital lobby with ornaments for In Memory of or In Honor of. Contact the Evergreen Medical Center at 251.578.2480 for more information.
Another favorite of holiday crafters is the Annual Holiday Secrets Program sponsored by the local Alabama Cooperative Extension Office. It is held annually each year as volunteers, Homemaker club members, and citizens come together to show off their creative talents. This event is held in November, so that you can get a head start on your Christmas gift giving, or ideas to help you create something of beauty for someone special on your gift list. There are always some wonderful food ideas to try and everyone has a great time! Contact Emily Brogden, 251.578.2762 for more information.
Last year, the Conecuh Women’s League sponsored their First Annual Photographs with Santa and Gift-Wrapping Event at the Historic Evergreen Depot after the Annual Christmas Parade. This was a great time, where you could pose with Santa and also get your Christmas gifts wrapped, donating to a good cause at the same time. The Conecuh Women’s League hosts the Annual Junior Miss program in the county, as well as other community service programs throughout the year. For more information, you can contact the local Chamber of Commerce for a contact person at 251.578.1707.
The local Chamber of Commerce sponsored another first-time event last year that promises to become an annual event when they had the First Annual Christmas Marketplace held at the Historic L & N Depot. Different businesses and shops rented spaces to have various goods and merchandise displayed for Christmas Gift Giving. Many interesting and tasty tidbits were displayed for purchase and you could find something to please everyone on your gift list, and possibly even have it personalized! To find out if they plan this again this year, contact the Chamber at 251.578.1707.
Historic Downtown Evergreen looks like a Winter Wonderland when the tree is lit, and the decorations are finally turned on after the annual Christmas parade. The sidewalks come to life with the many white lights that the City of Evergreen Electrical department strings throughout the shrubbery, along the sidewalks, and a walk downtown in the evenings is so much fun, as one views the many wonderful displays in the shop windows, bringing to mind an earlier, less hurried time in which one window-shopped at Christmas. Some of the shops remain open later than usual, offering cups of hot apple cider or hot chocolate to warm our insides and a neighboring spirit is revived as one enjoys the Christmas Season.
The Conecuh County Department of Human Resources always sponsors two trees at Christmas with an Angel Tree for Children which is usually located at the Chamber of Commerce office in downtown and another one is the Angel Tree for the Elderly located in the lobby of The Bank of Evergreen. Paper Angels are tied to the tree with clothing sizes or wish list attached for business and community members to purchase a gift for, leaving them at the office/bank for DHR to pick up and deliver in time for Christmas Morning. What joy it is to be able to give to someone less fortunate than yourself, that’s the spirit of Christmas. For more information about this valuable Christmas Tradition, contact Mrs. Renee Rogers at 251.578.3929.
Christmas would not be complete without the Singing of the Carols—and when you visit the hospital or the local nursing home during the month of December, you’re liable to find students and adults in cheery Christmas colors strolling through the halls, singing carols and jingling bells, as they seek to entertain and spread a little Christmas joy to the residents and patients of both of these places. The local members of the Masonic Lodges also gather each year to spread a bit of Christmas Cheer to the residents of the Evergreen Nursing Home, dressing up as Santa, his reindeer and elves to share in the spirit of Christmas. For more information about these events, contact the Evergreen Nursing Home at 251.578.3783.
The Evergreen-Conecuh County Public Library celebrates Christmas each year by decorating several Christmas trees, and making time to read Christmas stories with the Children who visit the library. Everyone who visits our local library comments on the beautiful Christmas decorations each year. This year, we are looking forward to another spectacular season since this will be our first year in our newly renovated library. We hope to be decorating from top to bottom! We’ve gained valuable new space from our addition, and we have a Children’s section as well as a new Genealogy Section and we’re hoping to really go all out for our Annual Decorating Season! For more information about the programs we sponsor, contact The Evergreen Public Library at 251.578.2670.
Getting into the Spirit of Christmas is easy when you attend the annual Christmas Cantatas sponsored by the various churches in Evergreen, whether you’re a Baptist, Methodist or of other faith. On Sunday mornings, or evenings, you can attend a special service in almost every church in Evergreen, as the choirs have been practicing for many weeks, making the downtown alive with the sounds of Christmas joy! The altars are decorated with live poinsettias, and Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes, festive greenery decorate the outside of all the churches in our downtown area. The Hanging of the Greens is a festive event held each year the First United Methodist Church around the corner from the Evergreen Depot, as garlands and wreaths are strung across the front porticoes, and handrails of the 100 year old church. Inside, you will find a Chrismon Tree decorated by the members of the church, the Advent Candle on the Altar and beautiful poinsettias in front in honor of or in memory of past and present family members. Each year a special Christmas Eve Communion Service is held for everyone to attend, with special music played. For more information for special events at EFUMC, contact Pam Hess at 251.578.1632
Both the churches in downtown Evergreen—Methodist and Baptist—have chimes that ring out with the blessed carols of the season, especially at Christmas. The Evergreen Baptist Church also hosts an Annual Christmas Cantata and everyone in the community looks forward each year to these events sponsored by the area churches. The Hand Bell Choir of the Baptist Church is also a welcome addition to the musical talent of our community. For more information about the annual events at EBC, contact the church at 251.578.1162.
Another local church, the Power of Deliverance Outreach Ministry selects a family each year to provide Christmas for, purchasing the needs of this family, providing toys and needed household items for; they also prepare fruit and gift bags for the elderly citizens in the community.
Many of the local schools and business organizations also sponsor annual drives to help with the needs of community members, especially during Christmas.
The decorations and events of the downtown area cannot be completed by any one group or organization or employee; it takes everyone working together as a team to put together a Christmas to Remember. Each year, the employees of the City of Evergreen work really hard to decorate their town for a memorable Christmas season—something for everyone to remember and talk about for years to come. The City of Evergreen thanks their employees each year by hosting a Christmas Dinner at the local Fire Station, complete with a sit-down Christmas Dinner and festive carol singing. The staffs of the local departments all participate by bringing covered dishes of delicious recipes to be shared by the entire municipality.
The local police department of the City of Evergreen sponsors an Annual Toys for Tots drive to purchase gifts for children in the community. This is an annual event, and for more information, you can contact 251.578.1111.
The downtown businesses usually start the Christmas Season off by hosting Holiday Open Houses the weekend of Thanksgiving, offering specials and other coupons during the season, to encourage more folks to ‘shop at home’ . In these tough economic times, it really does pay to shop at home and the civic clubs, businesses and chamber of commerce encourage the local businesses to market their products so that we can encourage our local citizens to stay at home and shop each year, as well as encourage tourism to our local places of interest.