Photos by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The sounds of the season rang out from St. Jean Baptiste Church Wednesday night as the community came together for the 33rd Annual Community Christmas Celebration, an interdenominational Christmas gathering that once again packed the pews and balconies of the historical landmark.
Not only did Wednesday night’s celebration draw a diverse group of participants, it drew a diverse group of musical talent. Under the direction of MC Noreen Radford, Morinville school choirs, church choirs, and the Bulger family all took to the stage, each bringing their own unique sound proclaiming the same Christmas message. That message culminated in attendees holding hands and singing Let There Be Peace On Earth, and then joining the Bulgers in singing Feliz Navidad.
The annual celebration was started in the late 1970s by John Unsworth, a former Morinville teacher, school board trustee, and Citizen of the Year. In its inaugural year, staff and students of École Georges P. Vanier School invited parents and the general public to a traditional Christmas concert in the school’s gymnasium. The response was so positive that Unger organized the first full Community Christmas Celebration the following year at St. Jean Baptiste Church, inviting other Morinville churches to participate in the event. Over the next eight years the event evolved into what organizers say was the community’s most anticipated annual event. Unsworth moved to British Columbia in 1988 at which time the annual celebration was taken over by a small group of dedicated volunteers who wanted to see the event continue.
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