Christmas Downtown: Thousands flock to Picayune for festivities
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Officials with Picayune Main Street estimate that thousands of people attended Friday’s Shop by Candlelight and Christmas on the Rails event.
“It’s a great event that grows every year,” Picayune Main Street Director Reba Beebe said. “We keep tweaking it to accommodate the increased crowds and just hope it continues to grow.”
The event attracted shoppers of all ages and when they weren’t shopping, people were entertained by dancers from X-Finity Dance Academy and they posed for pictures with Star Wars characters, Buddy the Elf, Olaf the snowman, Queen Elsa, the Grinch and more.
The event’s main attraction, especially for the children, was the jolly old man in red, Santa Claus, who brought the Mrs. along for a quick trip to Jack Read Park to pose for pictures with the excited youngsters.
As shoppers browsed stores, they were greeted by live music. At Bre’s Clothing and Accessories, Stephen McDonald, John Lopez and Bobby Bodenhamer serenaded the crowds.
There were many options for cruising through downtown including, a RadioFlyer, a hayride, two trains and a stagecoach.
In an effort to draw crowds to East Canal Street, Picayune Main Street board member Beth Lenoir organized the participation of seven choirs, who performed throughout the evening. Singers from New Palestine Baptist Church, Hancock Middle School, Rose of Sharon Baptist Church, East Jerusalem Baptist, St. Matthew Baptist Church, the Pearl River Central Show Choir and New Hebron Baptist Church thrilled crowds with their renditions of Christmas carols. The Senior Center carolers performed at the corner of West Canal and Main Street.
“Growing up, my mom worked at First National Bank and I loved listening to the choirs singing in the bank,” Lenoir said. “They performed outside First National Bank’s decorated awning. We wanted to bring back a little nostalgia for the people that grew up here.”
Also on East Canal Street, Dr. Leonard and his family set up a petting zoo next to Crystal Gallery, located at 210 East Canal St., which for the past 22 years, has displayed a Christmas scene that draws visitors from all over, Crystal Gallery manager Katie Jarrell said.
“My mom and gallery owner, Norma Kleinfeld, loves Christmas and she does it for the children’s enjoyment,” Jarrell said. “She loves when people gather around to enjoy the scenery. It brings a lot of joy.”
Through the years, the windows of Crystal Gallery have featured Cinderella and her coach, a Santa carousel, the Night Before Christmas, Santa’s workshop and a Christmas village, Santiago said.
This year, in collaboration with Diane Alsobrooks, the team at Crystal Gallery designed and executed the construction of a gingerbread cottage and children engaged in a snow fight in the window. Displayed in another window, is Santa and his sleigh, designed and fabricated by Kleinfeld’s husband Roland.
“This is always a good time for the community to enjoy,” Jarrell said. “Reba and Main Street are doing a very good job. They try very hard to make Picayune a place for people to enjoy these events and I appreciate that.”
The window displays will be lit until 10 p.m. nightly, Jarrell said.
Beebe said she wanted to thank the city for their involvement in Friday’s event.
“Everyone enjoyed it and it will continue to grow when Crosby Commons is finished and will add another location to the festivities,” Beebe said. “Public Works Director Eric Morris is over the whole set up and did a great job having lights and connecting sound equipment to Jack Read Park so Christmas music flows throughout the park. He works very hard, is very creative and is an asset to the city.”
Picayune City Manager Jim Luke credits the excellent working relationship between the city, Main Street and the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce for the success of Friday’s events. Luke also said Picayune’s city employees contributed to the event’s success as well as volunteers from the Picayune and Pearl River County School Districts.
“This is our fourth year for this event and more is added each year. We work hard to make as much of it as possible free so nobody has to pay to ride something. The city, Main Street and Chamber all have the same goals and direction,” Luke said. “We want to bring a good quality of life for our city. It takes a team to have such a successful event. The city workers work hard so that our children can make many wonderful Christmas memories.”