“Just to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” stated Melissa Stephens, founder and organizer of the One Holy Night Christmas festival, when asked what the genesis of the celebration was. She admitted feeling compelled to do something in the local Yantis community to “bring Christ back into Christmas.”
That revelation was over three years ago. Since then the celebration has steadily grown. From 100 participants in the inaugural celebration, to over 200 participants last year, Stephens is expecting a significant increase again in 2018.
The event will be celebrated on Saturday evening, Dec. 8, from 3-8 p.m. on the grounds of the Yantis Cafe, and will be coordinated with the annual Yantis Christmas parade. According to Chamber of Commerce member April Johnson the parade will commence at 4 p.m. from the First Baptist Church parking lot, and end at the One Holy Night celebration.
The celebration will feature hymns, a children’s choir, prayers, and the lighting of a Christmas tree. The tree-lighting will be the culmination of the reading of the biblical Christmas story by Brother Craig Vance of the First Baptist Church. The reading should commence at dusk. The Christmas tree will be a 16-foot evergreen provided courtesy of local resident Billy Burnett.
Johnson and Stephens recounted how after last year’s celebration, they simultaneously concluded that the parade and the One Holy Night celebration should be synched up. The two women, both of whom came to the area after having married Yantis natives, are now partnered to make this year’s celebration an appropriate celebration of the “most holiest night,” as Stephens commented.
Stephens noted that attendance at last year’s celebration was 50/50 between children and the elderly. “We have cookies, fudge, treats, hot chocolate…. It doesn’t cost anything”, she stated, “It’s just fellowship.” For the first time, the One Holy Night celebration will also feature venders such as “Thee Treehouse” marketing homemade goods.
Johnson added that the parade preparations are well underway with approximately 20 parade entries to date. With no entry fee, registering a group to participate in the parade is simple. The Yantis Chamber of Commerce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Johnson may be reached at 903 217 7965. Inquiries regarding the One Holy Night celebration can be taken by Mrs. Stephens at the Yantis Cafe.
Reflecting on the potential future of the One Holy Night celebration, Stephens commented the possibilities were endless, “as long as they glorify God.” Johnson added that there are many newcomers to the Yantis community and the community really tries to welcome them. Saturday December 8th promises to be an evening of reflection, celebration, and fellowship.