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Hometown Christmas brings nostalgia to Herrin this unusual holiday season
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Hometown Christmas brings nostalgia to Herrin this unusual holiday season

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HERRIN — The City of Herrin’s annual Hometown Christmas celebration kicks off on Friday. It will have a familiar feel, thanks to a Facebook post and a generous community.

On May 15, Brenda Brewster posted a picture from French’s Studio of Herrin’s 1956 Christmas decorations that shows a large Santa behind the word “Greetings” along with other decorations.

Her post read: “Does anyone know where this was or who these decorations belonged to back in 1956? Herrin Christmas Decoration Committee is working diligently through this pandemic to hopefully have decorations up for Christmas of 2020. Please make positive posts and help us keep the spirit alive.”

Brewster’s post drew offers to help with the decorating project or to donate, and information about Christmas decorations from the past.

A post by Marilyn Berra Phillips revealed that her daughter Debbie Motsinger had several of the decorations, which were made by Charlie Burke at Neon Sign, a company owned by Phillips’ uncle.

”Debbie Motsinger texted me and said they had some of the original ornaments,” Brewster said.

She went to look at them and the committee decided to see if they could replicate the decorations. Brewster found the decorations could be replicated in Herrin by Kings Food Service, a full-service event company that builds events from scratch.

One of Kings’ services is creating vinyl wraps. They agreed to replicate the old decorations using vinyl wraps. They have the look of the originals, without repainting or the doing the maintenance that painted decorations require.

“We are so fortunate to have Kings in our area,” Brewster said.

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To see their work, drive by Herrin Civic Center. Kings wrapped snowmen family ornaments displayed there. Some of the original reindeer will be displayed in the window of Bryan Furniture, but that is just one of many Christmas displays in Herrin.

Other locations and displays include:

  • The Hartley Building: “Believe in the Magic of Christmas,” featuring art by Ruby Tebelak, who grew up in Herrin;
  • Chapman Building: “Winter Wonderland” and a Nativity scene;
  • Baldwin Piano and Organ Center: “The Morning After” with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” 1950s and 1960s, Bruce Steh Display “Time to Go” with Santa’s reindeer and Jan’s Miniature Christmas Villages;
  • Herrin Drug: “Frosty’s Christmas;"
  • Asbury’s Jewelry: “Santa’s Workshop;"
  • Bryan Furniture: “Vintage Christmas” display of all “old,” donated ornaments, “Candyland,” “I’ll be Home for Christmas," which is a tribute to the military and coal miners, “Warm Christmas Memories"; and
  • SI Tan: “Nutcracker’s on Parade.”

The event opens at 4 p.m. Friday. Herrin Police will set up and monitor a driving route to see the displays. A walking path also will be available.

Organizers said masks will be required and those attending will follow social distancing guidelines.

Santa will arrive on a firetruck accompanied by Williamson County Shrine Club motor patrol to his place near the Christmas tree at First Southern Bank, West Monroe Street and Park Avenue. At that time, Mayor Steve Frattini will announce that the lights will be lit.

Santa will wave to children, and elves will deliver treat bags to children on vehicles and walking.

Granny Puckett’s will sell hot drinks, cupcakes and cookies in a tent at their location. Kings Food Service will give hot chocolate to anyone who purchases Hometown Christmas spirit wear.

The event also will kick off a Letter to Santa Contest. Children who mail their letters to the Jolly Old Elf using the mailbox at the Christmas tree by Dec. 4 will be entered into a contest for the best letter. Prizes will be awarded by grade on Dec. 7.

Brewster said the Hometown Christmas Committee raised more than $25,000 for the project. They hope to have some funds leftover to begin planning for next year.

Bank of Herrin, Herrin Real Estate and TLC paid to install electricity on the top of their buildings for Christmas lights. If the committee raises enough money, they would like to offer small grants to help other businesses do the same.

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