Christmas tradition in Douglas

Jasmin Lowe tells Santa her wishes. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

 

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

The Historic Douglas Church.  (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

The annual Douglas Community Christmas Celebration, held at the Historic Douglas Church, is a favorite tradition for many Waterville area residents.

This year, the chili feed and song fest was held on Dec. 9 and — helped by mild weather — drew a large crowd.

The event was sponsored by the Douglas Community Historical Association and included a dinner of chili, salads, breads and desserts, a bonfire outside, and the singing of carols, accompanied by the old church organ in the sanctuary. There was also a visit from Santa Claus and gifts of stockings for the children.

Lois Hinderer is one Waterville resident who tries to come every year. Hinderer said the event is her favorite of all the Christmas activities she attends. She enjoys listening to the pump organ played by Myrna Regan and she likes the chance to be in the old church building.

The Bourton family enjoys caroling. They are Ryan, Jennifer, Weston and Laurel. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

“The whole thing is just to me kind of magical,” Hinderer said.

Others came for the first time. Eileen Bone, a lifetime Waterville resident, said that she had never made it to the event before but after  seeing multiple familiar vehicles drive by her Highway 2 home through the snow last year, she decided that this year she wouldn’t miss it.

Cami Gearhart also came for the first time. Gearhart is the daughter of Douglas Community Historical Association members Walt and Marilyn Gearhart. She lives in Woodinville and had never attended the event before. She enjoyed the chance to participate this year.

Gearhart said that though her parents did not live in Douglas when she was growing up, she often came to visit the homestead of her mother’s family during the summer. She remembered going to the Douglas Church for Sunday school.

Marilyn Gearhart serves chili at the Douglas Community Christmas Celebration. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

Ryan and Jennifer Bourton, who live in Douglas, brought their two young children to the event for the first time this year. The children enjoyed visits with Santa and the chance to sing Christmas carols.

Hana, May and Asa Hinderer of Waterville come to the event with their parents Garth and Naoko Hinderer almost every year. This year they enjoyed having some time to watch Regan warm up the organ before the caroling began. They also had the opportunity to suggest carols to sing, as did many others who joined in the holiday music.

There were some groans in the audience when “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was suggested, but the group made it through this one with perseverance and good humor.

All of the children in attendance were willing to spend some time with Santa when he joined the party.

Walt Gearhart, an organizer of the celebration, said that the historical association enjoys the chance to welcome the community to the church each year.

 

Guests go through the buffet line at the Douglas Community Christmas Celebration on Dec. 9. Nedra Betcher and Margie Loebsack are in the foreground. Marla Madson is in the kitchen. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

 

Alice and John Ruud enjoy chili and conversation in the basement of the Historic Douglas Church on Dec. 9. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

 

Asa, May and Hana Hinderer watch Myrna Regan playing the organ during the Douglas Community Christmas Celebration. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)