By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
“The Gift of Christmas” will be a gift to the community when the Sunday, December 8 celebration welcomes all for a free concert offering varied entertainment with a holiday theme for the whole family.
The doors of The Church of Latter-day Saints (604 Ojai Road) will open at 6 p.m. for the community celebration of Christmas. Music will begin at 6:15 p.m. and the full show will start at 6:30 p.m.
The venue will be decorated with a wide variety of Nativity scenes and there will be biblical characters in costume.
This seventh annual musical celebration according to Janet Grant “Will be a little bit different.... Basil Augustine,” the retired Santa Paula High School drama teacher, producer, director and actor is “going to be our narrator. This year we’re doing a Christmas tale that will be interjected,” in between the variety of musical entertainers.
Grant, who founded the event with Wannette Jauregui, said over the years, “The celebration has been a fabulous experience and we’re surprised at how many have taken part.... we try to do something different each year,” and each year performers and audience members of many faiths enjoy the event.
Myrna Harker has been involved in the event with Grant for several years because, “It’s just a fun thing to do.... do I perform? I don’t perform at all, no, no just planning and decorations and deciding what kind of music, that sort of thing.”
Planning takes about four months for the production that this year is “Really varied and it’s going to be absolutely beautiful. We’re going to do tableaus we haven’t done before and narratives.... it’s going to be really nice and people of all ages would enjoy it. I just love the music, love Christmas and Christmas music.”
There will be light desserts available after the concert, which will close with the performers and audience singing “Silent Night”.
The venue will seat more than 300 people and Grant and Harker are hoping to fill the church for the show featuring a wide variety of music and entertainers.
“Gifts of Music” will be offered by the Presbyterian Church Bell Choir, Jerry Cruz and members of the Santa Paula High School Band and Choir, Jonathan Cervantes, Kenny Johnson, Mia Nava and Ava Klein, Karalee Johnson and The Primary Children, The Half Notes, Anitra Sommer, Donna Nelson and the Isbell Middle School Condor Choir and Bob Buchanan with Nancy Austin at the organ.
Music offered will be traditional Christmas, spirituals, arias, bells, choirs, soloists and duets, all packed into a show estimated to last a little more than an hour.
“We are featuring really great vocalists and musicians,” said Grant. “All our entertainers in the past have been great, but the show this year is really going to be somewhat different.”