The roots of Christmas traditions in the city run long and deep, with each event bringing to life a different element of the holiday. But Unity Baptist Church chooses to deliver the true meaning of Christmas with an entertaining light spectacle known as the Living Christmas Tree.
The 30-foot tree fills its six tiers with choral members from the congregation who sing in sync with more than 30,000 lights that dance around the tree, thus giving life to the metal structure.
Sam Norrod, choral director at the church, starts planning the show in August and works on the programming, including conducting, arranging songs, supervising the tech work, along with many other elements, up until opening day.
This year, the show will open at 7 p.m. Friday and be performed each day through Monday, with an additional matinee performance at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The show will consist of Christmas-themed performances of popular holiday tunes and drama, which Norrod said this year is former Pastor Floyd Paris’ comedy called “Fraley Family Fruitcake,” organized by drama director Deidra Patton.
The details of the technical programming behind the Living Christmas Tree light performances are intricately created using software in the computer, requiring much work from Norrod and his team.
The choir only has 10 in-house rehearsals, requiring each of the 42 singers to be personally responsible for learning the parts.
Norrod said the church sees increasingly large numbers throughout the four days of performances, progressing as the production continues.
He said people travel from different parts of eastern Kentucky and Ohio to see the Living Christmas Tree in action, from Ironton all the way to Pikeville and Hazard.
There will be no admission fees because Norrod explained the reason behind the production is bringing the true meaning of Christmas to the community.
“We want to remind people that Christmas is about remembering how Jesus was born at this time of year of the virgin Mary, which goes right along with the upcoming Easter holiday when he died on the cross for all of us and was resurrected. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.
LANA BELLAMY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2653.