nativity parade

Above: Mary and Joseph walk to Bethlehem during the annual Parade to Bethlehem Lighting Ceremony, Tuesday night, in Rusk. Other Biblical characters also participated in the parade.

By Kelly Young

countybeat@jacksonvilleprogress.com

The city of Rusk welcomed in the holiday season Tuesday evening with the 2nd Annual Parade to Bethlehem Lighting Ceremony. Approximately 100 Ruskites attended the celebration.

The event began at 5 p.m. in the former East Texas Medical Center building where 24 nativities from around the world were on display. The nativities ranged in material from glass and clay to metal and cloth. Nativities were present from Kenya, Israel, Tanzania and the Philippines.

The children of the Cherokee County Christian Schools’ Day Care contributed by making six of the nativities.

At 6 p.m., the Nativity Parade began as Mary, Joseph, shepherds, the three magi and a host of angels traveled south down Henderson Street to the waiting stable.

Pastor Robert Corbell of the River of Life Church read the Christmas story, and a combined choir from First Baptist Church, Calvary Baptist Church and the River of Life Church sang Christmas carols as the procession moved down the street.

Once the entire parade reached the stables, Rusk Mayor Suzann McCarty addressed the crowd regarding Hospice of East Texas.

“Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support for patients and their families when life-threatening illness occurs. Hospice deals with the emotional, social and spiritual impact of the disease on the patient and on the family,” McCarty said. “Hospice of East Texas sells symbolic lights in memory of honored loved ones. This money is used to support the East Texas programs, because Hospice serves no matter the ability of the patient to pay. We thank you for attending this evening, and we wish you a merry Christmas.”

Following the mayor’s address, the young angels sang “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”

After the Nativity Parade, all present were invited into the ETMC building for cake and refreshments. The Cherokee Civic Theater also invited parade patrons to the theater annex where cookies and hot beverages were served. The theater is celebrating its 60-year anniversary.

This Thursday, beginning at 6 p.m., the annual Rusk Christmas Parade will be held. The theme for this year’s parade is “Celebrating a Star Spangled Christmas.” Following Thursday’s parade, Kiwanis will be hosting its Pancake Supper at the Rusk Junior High Cafeteria.