The Times West Virginian

December 3, 2013

Monongah Hometown Christmas planned

New event is designed to be joyful experience for the town’s residents

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The upcoming Monongah Hometown Christmas is a chance to celebrate the town and create memories.

The event will take place from 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14.

Community member Chris Martin, who grew up in Monongah, said when she was a kid the Lions Clubs traditionally organized a holiday celebration featuring a movie, Santa Claus and treats for the children. But the town hasn’t held a Christmas event for many years, and she wanted to bring those festivities back because of all the memories.

“It’s for the children,” Martin said. “The children and the teens have always been the important ones in my mind.”

After she got the ball rolling, volunteers quickly came together to exchange ideas and begin planning the new Monongah Hometown Christmas. They started gathering in October with about 13 people involved, and the numbers have been growing during their meetings every two weeks.

“I opened the door and everyone jumped in,” Martin said. “Everyone is coming together as one to celebrate Christmas in Monongah.”

On Nov. 19, about 28 people set up an assembly line at the Monongah Fire Department to stuff 200 stockings with prizes for the upcoming event. The group included the Monongah Middle School Y Teens, North Marion High School students, West Virginia University students and Monongah citizens.

Martin said so many people have stepped up to help with these efforts to create a joyful hometown experience. Also, Monongah has a lot of new families, and this festive event is an opportunity for neighbors to meet each other and build friendships.

Monongah Hometown Christmas will kick off with a small parade at 3 p.m., and the entries will start lining up at Consol at 2:30 p.m. The parade, which will only be on East Monongah, will feature Santa on a fire truck, the 4-H Club kids dressed up as elves, the Marion County Rescue Squad’s Safety Pup, the Y Teens carrying the American and Monongah flags, and other units.

The North Marion High School band will be at the end of the parade and will perform a few songs in front of the Town Hall.

Santa will then lead all the guests into the Town Hall for refreshments and activities for the children. The Monongah Middle School choir and two churches will sing.

Local band Jenna Won’t Sing will lead the kids in a Christmas carol sing-along and will also take care of the sound system needs for the event. The members of Jenna Won’t Sing include Greg Patrick, Ron Yanero and Jim Pulice, his son Eric Pulice and grandson Jacob Pulice.

Patrick, a Monongah native, has known Martin since high school and said they had the same childhood memories of those old-fashioned, hometown Christmas events. He wanted to help revive the town’s holiday celebration.

He said interest in the event has really grown since Martin came up with the idea, and many volunteers have dedicated their time or given contributions.

“I’m very honored to be a part of it,” Patrick said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Also during the event, a movie of “The Night Before Christmas” will be shown on a large screen with the sound muted, while Monongah Middle School teacher Lisa McCombs narrates the story.

McCombs said she has a vested interest in Monongah. She graduated from Monongah High School, moved away and then came back to the town. She teaches eighth grade language arts at Monongah Middle, and is in her ninth year working at the school.

McCombs and Martin have been involved in planning other community activities together. When Martin expressed the idea for Monongah Hometown Christmas, McCombs told her, “Sign me up.”

“I’m just very attached and interested in our little town, and I (thought) this would be an awesome event,” she said.

McCombs said people in the community are really looking forward to Monongah Hometown Christmas, which is “kind of like a homecoming for us.”

“I just think it’s a wonderful thing that we’re doing,” she said. “I’m glad to see that hometown pride coming back. I just think it’s a real morale booster.”

Monongah mayor Greg Vandetta said the town’s summertime festival, Monongahfest, draws a nice crowd, and many people schedule vacation days so they can return to their hometown for the occasion.

He remembers the town’s Christmas festivities when he was a kid. The new Monongah Hometown Christmas will feature many of the same traditions as in the past, and will give people another reason to come back to Monongah.

“I personally think that any time that you can bring members of the town together, that starts to instill a little bit of pride in your community and helps people to participate in other things, too,” Vandetta said.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.