The held its annual Christmas Fest on Saturday.
The event included a ceremonial tree lighting and a shoe drive, as well as activities for the whole family.
Before the tree lighting, children enjoyed the petting zoo on the lawn. They had two goats, a chicken, and two ponies. The brown pony was attached to a carriage and gave rides to children, while the white pony had a saddle for children to ride one at a time. Hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and cookies were being served to those who were outside.
There were many families in the cold, candles in hand, waiting for the tree to be lit. After Pastor Christopher Coats sang Christmas carols with the crowd, they harmoniously began to count backwards from 10. When they hit one, the 35-foot tree lit up with its 1,500 multicolored lights, decorated by the pastors. This was the start of the eventful evening.
After, the church held three shows from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the upper level. The show consisted of Pastor Chris, and other members of the church, singing and playing instruments. A T. V. screen with holiday pictures accompanied by the lyrics to each song, assisted those who were unfamiliar with the carols. At one point, the children were brought to the stage. They dressed up as Mary’s, wise men, shepherds, angels, and animals, where they participated in “12 days of Christmas,” sung by Pastor Chris.
The show segued into a skit performed and written by members of the church.
"The show was phenomenal," said Nick Caras, who was a first time visitor to the Beacon Church. "This congregation will grow and be a positive influence on the community."
Outside, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus took pictures with children.
“We love to do this as a free gift to the community,” said Dawn Butler, events coordinator for the Beacon Church. It is "just an opportunity to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas.”
Butler also said that the church puts money from the budget aside to pay for events like these. This year, they also had sponsors who donated the photo booth, the petting zoo, and received gift cards to help with some of their offset costs for food.
This year, the church joined with an organization called Shoes For All. Visitors were able to donate shoes or money for shoes in the gathering room. They have already collected over 1,000 pairs of shoes for those in need.
In the gathering room, where many were waiting for the next show, was live music and personal vendors like Cathleen Cuneo, who was selling her Healing Hunny products, and donating all of the proceeds to the church. There were also stations where guests could write Christmas letters to soldiers and eat. In the next room was the lounge, which was an area set up for teens.
On the lower level were activities for children. In one room was Santa’s workshop where a volunteer dressed as an elf and told Christmas stories to children. In the next was a photo booth decorated with a Christmas frame for families to pose in. Photos were then given away for the families to keep. Further into the lower level were tables where children could make ornaments for their trees, decorate their own cupcakes, make a picture frame for their photos, and even build leggos.
“People from all backgrounds, all creeds are welcomed,” said Pastor Robert Kelly. “Even if you are a skeptic or cynic, we welcome you.”