Pearl River kicks off the holiday season with multiple magical events

Published 1:11 pm Monday, November 21, 2022

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River Community College has been bursting with holiday cheer this year as both the Forrest County Campus and Poplarville Campus held events to usher in the season. In Hattiesburg, members of the Wildcat family came together for the fourth annual Making Spirits Bright. In Poplarville, the campus was a buzz with nearly four thousand community members joining faculty, staff, and students at the sixth annual Wildcat Wonderland and student holiday concert, ‘Twas the Night.

After a two-year hiatus, the Forrest County Campus decked out the Dr. Cecil Burt Special Events room for the holiday season. The combination of delicious dessert items, fellowship with new and old friends, and musical entertainment created a magical night for all.

The concert event featured local talent and has grown each year since its inception in 2017.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Many of our faculty and staff bring their families to kick off the Christmas holiday season,” said event organizer Jackie Runnels. “I have learned it is a unique way to keep our staff and faculty close and share our families with one another. Many local community members attend annually, and it is a wonderful way for us to be involved in the community we serve. 

“This year was a huge success, and we are already making plans for next year. We like to add a new element each year to keep it interesting.”

For members of the Wildcat Family, the evening is a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with longtime friends.

“I look forward to coming here, seeing fellow instructors that I used to teach with for over 25 years,” said retired PRCC faculty member Nancy Reagan. “I enjoy coming here and seeing everything that you all have done.”

Amid familiar faces you can also find individuals attending for the first time, like Susie Dubose of Hattiesburg.

“The wonderful thing about this is it is local people showcasing local talent. Young talent like our granddaughter. From now on, I would like to make this a regular event and to bring others with me because I’m so impressed and delighted.”

The Poplarville Campus was transformed into a magical holiday-themed wonderland with the chill of winter in the air. Each corner of campus had something to offer those who came out for this free community focused event.

Along with beloved characters like the Grinch, Elsa, and Snoopy, guests were able to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Miss PRCC Savanah Faith Sylvest served as Santa’s special helper for the evening. Meanwhile, Mrs. Claus visited with the children in the cafeteria where they could decorate sugar cookies and sip hot chocolate.

Several stations had hands-on activities for the kids including making Grinch-approved slime with the STEM Club, writing letters to Santa at the PRCC Post Office, preparing reindeer food for Christmas Eve with the Recruitment River Navigators, and playing games with members of the PRCC Baseball and Softball teams.

A new addition to the activities was a cake walk at Centennial Green with kids and parents joining in the fun. Nearby, guests could visit a petting zoo that included a camel, a pen of small animals, and ponies for children to experience a guided promenade around Centennial Green. Members of the Baptist Student Union helped remind people the reason for the season with their live Nativity display.

Lucas Hamilton of Pass Christian thoroughly enjoyed the festivities with his family, including watching his aunt dance at the concert.

“I liked everything, including the cotton candy and the animals,” said Hamilton. 

Community members were invited to give back through a food drive for The Market and Backpack Buddies of Poplarville. Staff members from Pearl River County Hospital & Nursing Home were conducting a toy drive as well.

The end of the holiday festivities was the annual holiday concert featuring different student performance groups. Community members of all ages and many PRCC students packed the Brownstone Center for the Arts to enjoy an hour of dancing and music.

This year’s theme was ‘Twas the Night with the evening paying homage to the traditions of Christmas eve and music that puts a jazzy twist on some of the season’s favorite tunes.

Student groups performing included the new PRCC Currents, The String of Pearls, PRCC Singers, The Voices, and Jazz Cats. Hook, Line & Sinker, a trio of students also performed a selection. Dr. Rudy Gatlin stunned the audience with his rendition of “O Holy Night” and Dr. LaDona Tyson conducted the audience in a medley of traditional carols.

Colton Smith of Poplarville is a sophomore at PRCC who attended with friends.

“I thought the concert was amazing,” said Smith. “They did a really good job performing and loved the energy they gave tonight.”

The evening concluded with “Go Tell It on the Mountain” arranged by Dr. Pickerling for Santa’s Second Line. Many attendees danced their way out of the auditorium while the drum line continued the catchy beat.

“The concept was really well done,” said James Johnson. “My favorite thing was their exit; the way they marched out of the auditorium. The whole show felt very high energy, high enthusiasm and so it was a wonderful experience.” 

One more holiday-focused event is scheduled on the Poplarville Campus. The South Mississippi Ballet will once again take to the stage in the Brownstone Center to perform the beloved ballet, “The Nutcracker.”

Performances are scheduled for Saturday, December 3 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and on Sunday, December 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for orchestra seating and $17 for balcony seating. Discounts are available for groups of eleven or more. Purchase assigned seats at or at the door one hour prior to the performance.

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG).