Live Lee - Issue 2 - Holiday Edition

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*Event Venue *Wine Shop *Catering

Educating the next generation to shine brightly in a world desperately in need of illumination.

1010 India Road, Opelika, Alabama 36801



CONTRIBUTORS Ann Cipperly Abby Driggers Natalie Salvatore

DESIGN/ LAYOUT Michelle Key Hannah Lester

MARKETING Woody Ross Rena Smith

PHOTOGRAPHY Robert Noles Hannah Lester

Michelle Key, Publisher Originally from Albertville, Alabama, Key and her family moved to the Opelika-Auburn area in 2011 after her husband’s retirement from the U.S. Navy. She is a graduate of Troy University, and she joined the Observer in 2014 as an office administrator before assuming ownership of the newspaper in January 2018.

Hannah Lester, Live Lee Associate Editor Hannah Lester is a 2019 journalism graduate from Auburn University who is originally from Birmingham. She started with the Opelika Observer in July and began as the Associate Editor for the Live Lee Magazine. She assigns, writes and edits pieces for the magazine, as well as helps to design the pages.

Will Fairless, Opelika Observer Associate Editor Will Fairless graduated from Auburn University’s journalism program in 2020. He is from St. Charles, Missouri, and has been working at the Opelika Observer since June as an associate editor.

CONTACT US Key Media, LLC 216 S. 8th St., Opelika Phone: 334-749-8003


Wil Crews, Staff Reporter Wil Crews is an Auburn University 2020 Journalism graduate originally from Prattville, Alabama. He works as the Opelika Observer’s main prep sports reporter and assists in developing the weekly paper and Live Lee Magazine.

is a publication created by Key Media, LLC.

Robert Noles, Photographer Robert Noles is an award-winning photojournalist who has been with the Opelika Observer for more than 10 years. Originally from Tallassee, he is a graduate of Alabama Christian College and Auburn University.


LETTER FROM THE ASSOCIATE EDITOR I love giving Christmas presents. Finding the perfect gift for my parents, my brother or my friends is fun for me, and I love to see them open what I picked out (or made). This year, I started searching for gifts in July. Not only does this help me save and afford presents, but I have all the time in the world to make sure I pick out something special. Of course, this Christmas is going to look very different from previous years. Some Christmas events have been canceled and others are socially distanced. A holiday that is meant for hugs, handshakes and time spent together may be conducted on Zoom for some families. But we will still give presents. I encourage you to shop locally for your Christmas gifts this year. Businesses in Lee County, downtown Opelika and downtown Auburn have suffered through the pandemic.

One way to support our community is to shop locally for our gifts. If you can’t find that perfect item in one of the local shops, consider a site like Etsy that supports individuals who make items themselves. So many things will be different this year, but the sentiment and meaning behind the holiday has not changed. Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I would say we need Him now more than ever. The pandemic cannot cancel ‘Joy to the World,’ praying together or reading the story of the birth of Christ. “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,’” Luke 2:10-12. Merry Christmas! Hannah Lester

TABLE OF CONTENTS Letters From the Mayors ..............................................9

Parade In Reverse .................................................66

The Joy In The Show ...................................................12

Larger-Than-Life Christmas ...............................70

Virtual Hanukkah .......................................................16

Hit The Ice At Sweetland.......................................72

Reinvest In Your Community ..................................20

Christmas Movies All Day Long .........................74

Dolls, Trucks, Balls & Bikes ......................................26

An Opelika Tradition ............................................76

The Season Of Giving ................................................30

Gift to the Community .........................................78

A Downtown Christmas Destination.......................34

Santa & Aubie Bring Christmas Cheer ...............80

A Christmas Tree Tradition .....................................40

Come For What You Can Give ............................82

A Live Lee Christmas ................................................46

Auburn In Gingerbread ........................................84

Christmas Cakes .........................................................54

Light Up The Night ...............................................86

24 Years In The Making .............................................60

Round and Round .................................................88

Let’s Have A Ball ........................................................64

Wreaths For Our Fallen ........................................90

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ear Friends, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that another year has passed so quickly and we’re celebrating Christmas! Despite all of the changes to events, programs and activities over the past year due to COVID-19, we are excited to be entering this joyous time of year. Christmas in our community is incredibly special. Everything we do in Opelika is centered around families and friends being together, sharing the joy of the season and making memories to last a lifetime! This year, we simply ask that you take personal responsibility for the decisions you make for you and your loved ones. Wear a mask and social distance. There are many activities planned this year. Please visit for a full listing of events happening around town. From the Victorian Front Porch Tour to the Collinwood Luminaries, there will be something for everyone to enjoy. In addition, we invite you to go downtown and take pictures in front of all of the beautiful Christmas decorations. Then, share them to our Facebook page using the hashtag, #myopelikachristmas. I can’t wait to see all of your smiling faces! And remember, as you enjoy this holiday season, I encourage everyone to use moderation and common sense. If you drink, don’t drive! Always wear your seat belts and watch the speed limits. May God’s blessings and peace be upon you during this Christmas Season, and may He grant you a prosperous and Happy New Year! Warmest regards, Gary Fuller

City of Opelika

Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller and his wife, Laura, participated in the Victorian Front Porch Tour.


Merry Christmas 2020

City of Auburn


appy Holidays, everyone! The wreaths are being hung and the lights are beginning to glow. That means it’s Christmastime in Auburn. At the end of a year that has been filled with so much uncertainty and stress, I hope you are able to take this holiday season as a chance to relax, enjoy time with loved ones and re-center. We’ve been through so much together as a community and nation this year, and we hope that this time of year only brings you peace and joy as we focus on the things that are truly important

in life. We at the city hope to help you soak up the holiday spirit sprinkled throughout our town. From the Holiday Arts Sale to the Christmas Parade, there will be plenty of opportunities to get the family together and celebrate the “most wonderful time of the year.” You can find more information about holiday events and activities that our Parks and Recreation Department and the Auburn Public Library have planned at or And as you prepare to surprise


family and friends with the perfect gifts, we remind you to #ShopAuburn. Businesses across town have the perfect gifts for everyone on your list and need your support this year more than ever! We’re excited to be a part of making this holiday season spectacular for you and your loved ones. On behalf of everyone at the city of Auburn, we wish you a safe, healthy and wonderful holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Best wishes, Auburn Mayor Ron Anders


t is hard to believe that 2020 is coming to a close. This year has tested us and brought about challenges not seen for decades, including a global pandemic and upticks of violence and unrest both here and abroad. Simply put, it has not been an easy time to be a human. Despite those negatives and the ongoing presence of COVID-19,

nothing can take away the magical feeling and sense of hope that this time of year brings. Celebrations may look a little different this year for many, but apps like Zoom and FaceTime have shown us that no matter how far apart we are, we can always find a way to be together. Before you flip over to the next page of this special publication,

I’d like to encourage you to cherish the time you’re able to spend with your loved ones and take the time to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season. Sincerely, F.L. “Bubba” Copeland

City of Smiths Station —11—

Merry Christmas 2020

The Joy In The Show

Dancers perform each year in


Story By Abby Driggers Photos Contributed By East Alabama Community Ballet

heatre inspires human connection — the moments of exchange between performers and their audience. The holiday season is the time of year for productions, shows and lots of singing. Talented artists in Lee County have found innovative ways to provide that same experience safely during the coronavirus pandemic. Everything has looked a little different in 2020 and performances for the holiday season will be adjusted too.

East Alabama Community Ballet “The Nutcracker” is a staple of the holiday season, but this year, the East Alabama Community Ballet will present the show digitally. “We believe that this is an important event for our community and our dancers,” said Allie Dyleski, artistic director for East Alabama Community Ballet. “So much has been canceled, it was important for us to work really hard to make this happen in some way or another. For


“This won’t be the production we’re used to in the theater with a live audience, but this is an exciting opportunity to challenge our creativity as dancers and choreographers and to create something we normally wouldn’t be able to do,” the website said. “We will be hiring a professional production crew to film and produce a high quality, movie-version of “The Nutcracker.”” There is the potential for an outside show at some point in December, but a date has not yet been announced. Auburn Area Community Theatre The Auburn Area Community Theatre (AACT) will perform “A Christmas Carol” at the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center from Dec. 10 through Dec. 13. It is the company’s first Christmas production. Although most people are familiar with “A Christmas Carol,” AACT is putting a different spin on things. The production will be performed as a radio play. Now, this doesn’t mean that those who purchase tickets will listen to the show in their own homes. Rather, each actor will perform as though they are on the radio. Artistic director Andrea Holliday and director Terry Kelley said the show will feel natural as a radio play — characters can easily interact while physically distanced from one another at separate microphones. “What I like about this show for this particular time that we’re going through, is that there’s the interaction between the characters,” Holliday said. “We can cleverly dress the stage as this 1940’s radio station and actually achieve a good bit of physical distancing.” Seating arrangements will be modified, and all recommended protocols will be followed at the time of performances. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. The Nutcracker with the East Alabama Community Ballet months, our dancers had to take classes online and didn’t get to see their friends and teachers in person and it’s just not quite the same. “So many of their recitals and competitions were canceled and we just couldn’t bear the thought of canceling “The Nutcracker” too. Our production brings together dancers and choreographers from studios all over town. After months of isolation, having a sense of community again and doing what we all love together has been great.” The production will go straight to DVD for purchase and will also be streamed at different locations, according to a statement on the East Alabama Community Ballet website.


Kreher Preserve and Nature Center Want some fresh air? The Kreher Preserve and Nature Center will host “A Holiday Walk in the Woods” Friday, Dec. 18 and Saturday, Dec. 19 at 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 10 a.m. The production is also put on by the AACT and will feature local performers. The show takes audience members on a walk through the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center to different stops where they will watch different kinds of performances, from spoken word to song. Tickets are $5 per person over the age of three. Full tour groups at a specific time are available for purchase for $70. To purchase tickets, donate or learn more, visit

Merry Christmas 2020

The Opelika Theatre Company The Opelika Theatre Company has had to adjust to the pandemic as well, but never fear — the show must go on. The company was rehearsing for “The Addams Family” when the pandemic closures began in March. Marty Moore, the executive artistic director, quickly realized there was no way to keep attendees, cast and crew safe. OTC moved rehearsals online and postponed to Oct. 17. “We had our last rehearsal on March 17, and we were so tickled because we had gone through the major numbers and everybody was clicking,” Moore said. “And then it happened. Everything shut down.” The Opelika Theatre Company held a summer showcase, socially distanced, at the outdoor amphitheater at the Opelika Sportsplex instead, at the suggestion of a cast member. The event featured local talent and was so successful that the company decided to host a winter showcase as well. “It gives performers an opportunity to showcase their talents during a time when people need it,” said Assistant Director Libby Herring. “We were also able to fundraise to run our shows and other events.” The Winter Showcase will be held at the Opelika Sportsplex on Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. Entry is free; however, donations are encouraged.

season, since productions will not be in person. The result was AU Theatre at Home — pre-recorded digital performances distributed digitally to patron’s electronic devices to view at their leisure. Faculty, staff and students spent the summer rethinking the ways they rehearse, audition and perform after moving to remote learning in March. The 2020 December production of “Little Women” will be adapted to a radio play and made available to view via AU Theatre at Home for the week of Dec. 7 through Dec. 13. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through the department’s website. Director Daydrie Hague said she hopes patrons will assist the theatre department by tuning in and watching. “You find these ways through these moments of performance to find something that feels like [the kind of community] that we all are so desperately missing through this moment where we can’t be together as much as we would like,” Hague said. Katie Pappas, cast as one of the Marsh sisters in “Little Women,” said she is excited about the opportunities digitized performances provide. “A radio play gives the cast an opportunity to focus so much on voice acting,” Pappas said. “But for others, I’m really excited because this is like an opportunity for people like my grandmother, who is blind, to get the full performance that she may not have had in another way.”

Auburn University The Auburn University Department of Theatre looked for new ways to present the winter portion of their

Arts Association of East Alabama Like community organizations all across the country, The Arts Association of East Alabama is moving forward by postponing season openings until 2021. The association will hold performances soon after the holiday season, however. The Israel Symphony Orchestra will perform on Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and a Tribute to Aretha Franklin will preview on Monday, Feb. 15 from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Performances will take place at Opelika Center for the Performing Arts at Opelika High School, located at 1700 Lafayette Parkway in Opelika. For more information, please visit or email info@eastalabamaarts. org.

Dancers perform each year in The Nutcracker with the East Alabama Community Ballet


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Virtual Hanukkah Story By Hannah Lester Photos Contributed by Auburn Hillel

Auburn Hillel celebrates the tree and menorah lighting in 2019.



amilies will celebrate many of the annual Jewish Hanukkah traditions at home this year. Beth Shalom, Lee County’s only Jewish congregation, normally celebrates Hanukkah together — but this year, things will go virtual. Hanukkah begins on Dec. 10 and continues through Dec. 18. “Usually we have a Hanukkah party at the synagogue sometime during the eight days of Hanukkah,” said Susan Youngblood, co-president of Congregation Beth Shalom. “It’s such a kidfriendly holiday that we usually plan the party as such. We have pizza, latkes and sometimes sufganiyot. We lead Hanukkah songs with a guitar or play CDs. Many families bring a Hanukkiyah and their candles, and together we light them and say the blessings. Most candles burn quickly, so families are ready to bring their Hanukkiyot [plural of Hanukkiyah] home at the end.” The congregation will need to plan differently this year. “Likely we’ll find a convenient evening during that week and light our Hanukkiyot together on Zoom,” Youngblood said. “Maybe we’ll have a recipe swap or a lesson in how to make sufganiyo.” A Hanukkiyah is a menorah that is lit annually for eight nights. It has nine candles. “We start with the shamash (the helper candle, which sits at a different level than the others) and one candle for the first night, placing the first-night candle on the right-hand side,” Youngblood said. “The next night, we place two candles, the next three, etc. Each night when we light the candles, we use the match or lighter only on the shamash and then use its flame to light the candles from newest added (left-most) to oldest (right-most). We say blessings and let them


burn all the way down.” Hillel at Auburn, Auburn’s Jewish Student Organization, normally takes part in a menorahlighting on Samford lawn. This takes place at the same time that the Auburn Student Government association lights the Christmas Tree. Normally, the event draws a crowd from around the city, all eager for the start of the holiday season. This year, however, the event may not take place. The university is still planning if and how the tree and menorah lighting could happen. The lighting of the menorah, and the story that accompanies it, is central to Hanukkah. Traditions date to 167 BCE when Judean Jews fought against the Seleucid oppressors. Jews recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem, rededicated it and observed a celebration. Using a tiny amount of oil, the Jews were able to burn candles for eight days, according to myjewishlearning. com. The menorah is lit annually, but Jewish communities and congregations often eat food associated with the oil as well. “We also eat fried foods to remind us of the oil central to the Chanukah story; these include potato latkes and sufganiyot (little jelly doughnuts),” Youngblood said. “We eat gelt (chocolate coins) too.” Hanukkah, whether online or virtual, is still an important event to Jewish communities. “Like Passover, Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the liberation from oppression,” the website said. “It also provides a strong argument in favor of freedom of worship and religion. In spite of the human action that is commemorated, never far from the surface is the theology that the liberation was possible only thanks to the miraculous support of the Divine.”

Happy Hanukkah

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Al ordenar mencione "Live Lee Special" para una empanada o platanos fritos gratis con la compra de $10 en el mes de diciembre.

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Kid's menu available

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Pregunta por el especial navideño.

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Entrega a domicilio por Door Dash

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La quesadilla suprema está para chuparse los dedos

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Merry Christmas 2020

Reinvest In Your Community Story By Hannah Lester Photos by Hannah Lester and Robert Noles



olidays bring families together — and they should bring communities together, too. Behind the counter at Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers are members of the Auburn community. The bookstore is located in the heart of downtown Auburn and is still standing strong despite the challenges of a worldwide pandemic. Months ago, when COVID-19 was first taking hold of Lee County, the Auburn Downtown Merchant’s Association created a campaign to help local businesses: Keep Auburn Rolling. The campaign allowed people to buy t-shirts with the slogan “Keep Auburn Rolling,” and the proceeds were donated to businesses. Now, with the holidays approaching, people can continue to support local businesses, like Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers (149 E Magnolia Ave Suite A, Auburn). “Auburn Oil Company Booksellers is more than just a bookstore,” said Angela Wilhite, the manager of the shop. “We have a beautifully curated selection of adult books; fiction and non-fiction; southern lit; a great kid’s section for the littlest readers to teenagers; we have poetry and classics.” The bookstore has been in Auburn a little over a year, but they

sell a lot more than books. Patrons find the store full of candles, notepads, dish towels, stickers, bags, key chains and more, in addition to books and coffee. “We’re really kind of like a onestop shop,” Wilhite said. Wilhite has been working at Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers since it opened. This will be the second Christmas season for the shop. The bookstore opened a month before Black Friday, so she said it is hard to know what a typical holiday shopping season will look like for Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers. Crowds started picking up as early as October this year, however, Wilhite said, even if only slightly. There are several items that are popular in the shop, including some bath bombs from Old Whaling Company, she said. The same company also has a tea towel for sale that reads, “Love you to Auburn and back.” “All of our booksellers who work here love to read; we have great recommendations, and we really take the time to listen to our customers and hear their likes and dislikes,” Wilhite said. “And then we will walk around the store and find you a stack of books that you can choose from. And Amazon’s not going to do that for you … You’re supporting real people who live in your community when you shop here.”


10,000 Hz Records When Russell Baggett moved to Opelika in 2015 with his wife, he quickly learned that there were not a lot of options for records in the area. He decided the responsibility was in his hands and opened 10,000 Hz Records. “We wanted to fill the void,” he said. “And so we opened a shop that was more oriented toward selling current music and of course, [we] have used vinyl too. And so new vinyl, used vinyl, turntables, accessories.” 10,000 Hz Records (717A 1st Ave, Opelika) opened its doors a little over two years ago, but they were doing business before they had a brick-and-mortar building. They held pop-up shops with other businesses around town — finding ways to get music in people’s hands. Like all local shops, the pandemic hit the business back in March. The doors closed and everything went online, Baggett said. “We made the decision to close pretty quickly,” he said. “I think we might have closed before anybody else did in Opelika, possibly Auburn too.” But don’t fear, music lovers, 10,000 Hz Records still found a way to sell vinyl.


“If people want to shop with us, I mean certainly they can go through our website, through, buy stuff there,” Baggett said. “They can pick up at the shop … They can either call ahead if they place an order on the website. They can call ahead; I can leave things outside for them to pick up. So, totally contactless that way. People sometimes will knock on the door and just want to order something on the spot which we can certainly do that too. We have been, since March 15, doing free, local delivery for Opelika and Auburn, so we’ve been dropping a lot of packages at people’s doors.” Baggett said there are a lot of businesses that could not move online when the pandemic began and may not last through the end of it. “If you want to see unique businesses continue to exist in downtown Auburn, in downtown Opelika, you have to support them,” he said. Auburn Candle Company Candles are a common gift to give at Christmas, but they are often not seen as a personal gift. Auburn Candle Company, however, allows you to give a candle and personalize it. The company opened exactly one week before lockdown hit Lee County, March 21, and despite the struggles, they have

Merry Christmas 2020

succeeded in the community. Auburn Candle Company (166 N Gay St, Auburn) pours all its candles in its shop on Gay Street. What makes them unique is the option to “create your own” candle. “We have over 85 different fragrances for customers to come in, choose their own fragrances and make their own candles,” said Quentin Bowden, who co-owns the shop with Tifani Hedrick. “We do have pre-made candles. I think we’re up to 105 different fragrances that we have in store that customers can come in and purchase off the shelf but, even for just $2 more … anyone can come in and make their own.” The company gained a large following after making it big on the social-media app, TikTok. “We spent [a couple of days] and we made a couple videos for TikTok and posted those and those actually exploded overnight,” Bowden said. “We weren’t on TikTok before. I think the first video we posted got almost half a million views. The next one had 1.2 million views. So it’s brought us a lot of business and a lot of people in the Auburn area were really excited to come and check us out.” Since the shop had to close to in-person customers at the start of the pandemic, the TikTok following helped to kickstart the business. Even online, customers could still choose their own fragrances without actually being in the store. The “create your own” tab

allows customers to pick the size of their candle and then a mix of three scents (from a list of 85). You could mix and match vanilla bean, orange zest and mango or perhaps bacon, bourbon and old books. “They can leave notes to kind of say ‘Hey, if I want a candle that’s Georgia peach, mango and champagne,’ if they want more mango than Georgia peach or champagne or something like that, they can definitely leave us notes and we can try to tailor it as best as we can to their requests,” Bowden said. Some of the most popular scents are Georgia Peach, Lavender and Eucalyptus, he said. A lot of the male customers like Bourbon and a scent called ‘mug and brush.’ “Tiffany’s favorites are, we have one called lava, which is very similar to like the Capri Blue volcano candle,” Bowden said. “So that’s her favorite. My personal favorite mix is a mix of bourbon, amber musk and sandalwood.” There are scents that are a little off the beaten path, like yuzu, which is an Asian citrus scent, or wasabi. The shop is open again to the public except for on Mondays and Tuesdays. “I would definitely encourage people to shop locally because I think it’s important to keep your money in the community in which you live in,” Bowden said. “We hire only local students and local people. You’re just reinvesting in your own community.”

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Dolls, Trucks, Balls & Bikes Story By Hannah Lester Photos Contributed By the Auburn Athletics Department and AORTA


olls, toy trucks, baseballs and bikes. Children everywhere are making lists for Santa this year. Some children, however, wouldn’t find anything under the tree if it weren’t for local

toy drives. “During this holiday season, please remember those who may be less fortunate,” said Clarence J.C. Stewart, IV, assistant chief for the Auburn Police Division. “All


donations are extremely important.” The Auburn Toy Drive is in full swing, celebrating its 46th year of providing toys to local children. “The purpose of the program was the assist families less fortunate than others, for those families who just needed a helping hand from someone who cared,” Stewart said. “The program provides for families in need. At Christmas time the program provides toys to children to put smiles on their faces.” Stewart said that the Auburn program was started by Lt. John Dunn and his wife Estella Dunn. “Still today his wife, Mrs. Estella Dunn continues the program assisted by Debra Hoyett, Capt. Lorenza Dorsey (retired 2020) and other members of the city of Auburn’s Public Safety Department,” Stewart said. “Over the years, the program has grown and the growth continues thanks to caring people who donate to this program, and through these donations we can continue to keep this wonderful program going.” Donations are accepted through Dec. 5 at the Auburn Fire Division Station or Auburn Police Division. There are also remote locations at 1231 Gatewood Drive and 2020 S. College St. “Volunteers will sort the gifts into age-appropriate categories and delivery is scheduled for the week before Christmas,” Stewart said. “… As always, be mindful that no monetary donations may be accepted; however, any purchased gift is appreciated.” AORTA Toy Drive The Auburn Opelika Running and Track Association hosts a run and toy drive each year to benefit children in Auburn. The run was held virtually this year, rather than in person, but the association still brought in a good haul of toys for children. The event, a 1 mile, 5K or 10K, was held on Nov. 29, and runners could participate anywhere they chose. Runners then brought toys on the afternoon of Nov. 29 for local children in need. “We collect all those toys and then we bring them to the Auburn Toy Drive at the police department,” said Mike Brown, the race director. “… It really supplies a lot of toys to the Auburn Toy Drive. I mean we usually have an eight-foot-wide or six-foot-wide by 20-foot trailer completely full of toys that I bring up there. So I [hated] to not do it this year, and so we tried to do something virtual where we could still get toys for the disadvantaged kids in this area.” Brown said that they were reluctant to go virtual since last year there were over 200 racers, but at least the


virtual event still gave people an opportunity to donate. Auburn Basketball Auburn University partners with Toys for Tots each year to collect donations at an Auburn Men’s Basketball game. “We have so many families in need right in our backyard,” said Dan Heck, assistant athletics director for marketing and fan engagement with the Auburn Athletics Department. “We realize that everyone has unique financial circumstances, but especially during this pandemic, we want to give members of the Auburn Family who are more financially blessed than others the opportunity to give back during a time of year that is so special for young people. We want to make a difference.” Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic will affect basketball games too. “We still do not know what the capacity will be in Auburn Arena this season,” Heck said. “We know it will be limited compared to previous seasons, we just do not have a capacity percentage number yet. To that end, we also are working with state and local health officials on best practices of fan interaction/social distancing. If Toys for Tots continues at Auburn Basketball games, it would need to be safe and COVID-19 friendly.” An Auburn Student Veteran, Marine Ricardo Garcia, is a coordinator for Toys for Tots and asked the athletics department to become a drop-off location two years ago, Heck said. Over 2,000 toys have been donated at each game in past years. A date has not been set for a Toys for Tots drop-off game for 2020 yet. Lee County and Opelika The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #21, The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Opelika Police Department host a toy drive each year as well. Toys are collected right up until Christmas to benefit families who may not have heard of the program sooner, said Marlene Powell, Lee County civil clerk. The age range for toy collection is 2–9 and there are drop boxes at the sheriff’s office, the Opelika Fire Department and some local businesses like Dollar General, Powell said. Families needed to register their children by November, but there may be children who can still receive gifts, despite not having registered in November. Powell said that if the toy drive has extra toys, other families may be included who reach out.

Merry Christmas 2020

The AORTA Toy Drive Race contributes a large amount of toys each year to the Auburn Toy Drive

Each year Auburn Athletics hosts a toy drive for Toys For Tots at a men's basketball game


2020 • WWW.OPELIKACHRISTMAS.COM • #MYOPELIKACHRISTMAS SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY Start Your Christmas Shopping! November 28 • Normal shopping hours CHRISTMAS IN CAMELOT Month of December • 4:30 - 10 p.m. Off of Rocky Brook Road

VICTORIAN FRONT PORCH TOUR HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGE RIDES December 9 • 5 - 8 p.m. December 10 • 5 - 8 p.m. December 13 • 2 - 5 p.m. December 13 • 6 - 8 p.m. Provided by Friends of the Library Purchase tickets at

DRIVE-THRU NATIVITY STORY Month of December Sportsplex Parking Lot Partnering w/Church of the Highlands Opelika

CHRISTMAS IN A RAILROAD TOWN December 11 • 5 - 8 p.m. Sponsored by AUBURN OPELIKA Lifestyle Group

DECORATIONS SWAP & BIG BOOK SALE December 5 • 10 a.m. - Noon Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library

OPELIKA THEATRE BREAKFAST WITH SANTA December 12 • 9 - 11 a.m. Southside Center for the Arts (1103 Glenn)

SNOW MUCH FUN CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA Featuring a Reverse Walking Parade, Snowfall & Christmas Tree Lighting December 5 • 4:30 - 6 p.m. Courthouse Square VICTORIAN FRONT PORCH TOUR Driving Tour • December 9 - 13 • 5 - 10 p.m. Bike Tour • December 10 • 6 p.m. Walking Tour • December 12 • 6 - 9:30 p.m. Pooch Tour • December 13 • 12 - 2 p.m. (Pups are welcome to stroll the tour.)

OPELIKA THEATRE WINTER SHOWCASE December 13 • 3 - 4 p.m. Sportsplex Amphitheater Donations only OPELIKA THEATRE SANTA’S O’TOWN CHRISTMAS BALL December 17 • 6:30 - 8 p.m. Mothers & Sons (ages 4-8) Fathers & Daughters (ages 4-8) December 18 • 6:30 - 8 p.m. Mothers & Sons (ages 9-13) Fathers & Daughters (ages 9-13) Southside Center for the Arts (1103 Glenn)

COLLINWOOD LUMINARIES December 18 • 5 - 9 p.m. 53rd Anniversar• Off of 10th Street Rain date December 19 • 5 - 9 p.m. FA-LA-LA FESTIVAL TO GO December 19 • 10 a.m. - Noon Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library CHRISTMAS MOVIE MARATHON December 23 • 10 a.m. - Close Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library New movie starts every 2 hours OPELIKA THEATRE NEW YEAR’S EVENT RAISING THE CURTAIN CABERET FUNDRAISER December 31 • 7 - 9 p.m. & 11 p.m. - 1 a.m. Southside Center for the Arts (1103 Glenn) Reservations 334-663-4480 or 334-663-2593 Presented by Opelika Theatre w/ Auburn Knights

Please take personal responsibility by wearing masks and social distancing when attending events. Thank you.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY: City of Opelika • Opelika Parks & Recreation • Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library • Opelika Chamber of Commerce • Opelika Main Street • Victorian Front Porch Tour • Auburn-Opelika Tourism • Opelika Theatre Company

The Food Bank of East Alabama serves all of Lee County.

The Season

of Giving


Story By Will Fairless Photos Contributed by the East Alabama Food Bank

hristmas is a time for good food, good company and generosity. For recipes to help with that first component of the holiday season, turn to page 46. Unfortunately, many churches and other organizations have moved away from in-person volunteering options this year, but there are still ways to get involved, and there are always opportunities to donate money remotely.

The Food Bank of East Alabama (355 Industry Drive, Auburn) is always in need of volunteers, particularly over the holiday months. “We have had an employee out for surgery and recovery and being shorthanded has caused us to only be able to offer morning volunteer slots, but we hope to return to our normal volunteer hours as soon as possible,” said Tina Tatum, the volunteer and program coordinator at the Food


Habitat For Humanity Affiliate Office, which builds houses. The second works to support affiliate offices all over the state of Alabama; there are about 30 offices which support 45 counties. “We operate on the four pillars of support,” said Brandon Dixon, executive director for Alabama Habitat for Humanity. “We do advocacy work, we do resource development, we do training and education and we do disaster response. So those are kind of the four channels through which our efforts are funneled.” Additionally Habitat for Humanity utilizes ReStores. The ReStores provide home improvement items, such as building materials or furniture. The purpose is that the items are sold for much less than they would be at retail. “We encourage everyone to come out and see us to shop, donate and volunteer,” Dixon said. The Auburn-Opelika ReStore is located at 3831 Pepperell Parkway and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bank of East Alabama. Volunteers are required to use the bank’s online signup calendar ( and can come in during the mornings on weekdays from 7 a.m. to noon. “The Food Bank is a centralized warehouse that stores and distributes donated and purchased perishable and nonperishable food items,” the website said. “We distribute food to low-income people through member agencies that serve the ill, needy and infants. The Food Bank works to reduce food waste, feed hungry people and raise public awareness of issues related to food and hunger.” Tatum added that volunteers are encouraged to commit to two-hour shifts and that the work involves sorting food donations by category and boxing those donations for distribution to the agencies the food bank serves. Habitat For Humanity Auburn and Opelika have two Habitat for Humanity offices that serve the area. One is the Auburn Opelika

The Food Bank of East Alabama serves all of Lee County.


Merry Christmas 2020

Monday through Saturday. “We take in donations from the community, Auburn, Opelika and even out into the far reaches of Lee County,” Dixon said. “We bring those items in, we get them cleaned up, try to fix them up and then we sell them to the general public at a discount. And then we use the proceeds from those sales to help build habitat homes, not only here in Lee County but also all throughout the state of Alabama.” To donate items, people can drop them off at the store, at the loading dock on the side of the building or schedule a pickup at (334-737-6400). Volunteers are used in this ReStore to help pick up items and refurbish items, Dixon said. To volunteer, Dixon said community members should either stop by the ReStore or call the store manager (334737-6400). “I’ve been with habitat now for almost a decade, a little over nine years, and so for me, the mission of the organization, what it stands for and what it does, I’ve found to be very rewarding,” Dixon said. “I would say that everyone who volunteers and works for Habitat feels the same way. A lot of the people from the community who shop, who donate, who volunteer here feel that way as well because they know that their time and their resources are going toward a great cause.” Local Churches St. Mary’s Catholic Church (1000 4th Ave., Opelika) has volunteer opportunities at the end of every month,

when it packs boxes of food to distribute to those in need. Volunteers usually either transport food from a food bank to the church or unload that food from the cars and pack it into boxes to be distributed. Normally, the last Thursday of every month is when food is delivered to the church and packed into boxes, then the following Saturday is when those boxes are distributed. Those days might change during the holiday season. St. Mary’s is also in need of volunteers on other days and for other tasks, so those wishing to volunteer should call the parish (334-749-8359) and ask for Sr. Olivia for more information and specific dates. Prospective volunteers can also visit the church’s website ( First Baptist Church of Opelika (301 S 8th St., Opelika) encourages anyone to donate to its annual Angel Tree program. For more information, visit the church’s website ( Heritage Baptist Church (1103 Glenn St., Opelika) does not currently have any projects going on that could include people from outside the church, but Pastor Thad Endicott shared the following advice on giving time during the holidays: “What I have found is that phone calls, emails, cards, text messages and personal visits to family, friends and neighbors are especially important this year, as many people have felt disconnected because of COVID,” he said. “It may not seem like a big thing, but just letting people know that you care for them and are thinking of them means so much.”

The Food Bank of East Alabama serves all of Lee County.




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OPELIKA: A Downtown Christmas Destination Story By Hannah Lester Photos By Robert Noles, Hannah Lester And The City of Opelika


pelika is a Hallmark Christmas town. You can’t tell me otherwise. Christmas decorations everywhere, events for the community, couples walking hand-inhand through downtown and even — fake snow. Picture your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie — the small-town feel where everyone knows each other and Christmas is always a big deal. To me, that’s Opelika.


The city has made the holidays a priority, and it pays off. Visitors come from miles around to see the Hallmark Christmas town. “About three years ago we decided that we wanted to make Opelika a downtown Christmas destination,” said Leigh Krehling, the city of Opelika’s community relations officer. “So, we got together a committee. Matt Battles, who works for Parks and Rec, and I kind of spearheaded

Merry Christmas 2020

everything, did a lot of research, determined what items we wanted to do all over town.” This year, the city started decorating the day after Halloween. If you walked through downtown on Nov. 1, there were wreaths on light poles and reindeer behind the courthouse. “The first year we kind of did it on our own, as far as putting everything out and installing it and we quickly learned that we needed teams of people to help make it happen,” Krehling said. “We needed elves.” Elves they found. Maybe with Christmas-movie magic, those Hallmark towns just come together, but in Opelika, it requires a lot of work to create those picture-perfect moments. “We invited different department heads and different groups like the [Opelika Chamber of Commerce] and [Opelika Main Street] and Keep Opelika Beautiful,” Krehling said.

Decorating takes a couple of weeks to fully have Opelika ready for the holidays, she said, and the city likes to have everything turned on by Black Friday. “Our downtown is just a very unique downtown, we have a lot of historic buildings up and restored and are occupied,” said Ken Ward, director of Opelika Main Street. “We also have a lot of great public spaces. We have a lot that are perfect for displaying different decorations. And in addition to that, there’s been a lot of thought that’s gone into selecting the different decorations and getting the different types of lights and stuff downtown to make it look like that Hallmark-style feel.” Downtown merchants also try to outdo one another with Christmas decorations, Ward said. “A lot of our downtown merchants really go out and decorate their storefronts and stores to the holiday season for main street,” Ward said. “Last year we did a Christmas decorating contest … So it’s just another way to make



Merry Christmas 2020

our community that much more charming during the holiday season.” Of course, this year is different. COVID-19 might even infect Christmas movies. There are a few events that won’t take place in Opelika, but Christmas decorating is still on track. “Regardless of what happens with events, the city is going to look beautiful, so that people still feel the spirit,” Krehling said. The decorations are not the only thing that gives Opelika that Hallmark feel. There are several events that this publication highlights that bring the community together (albeit with social distancing this year.) The south does not normally see a lot of snow, but Opelika likes to play weatherman and takes snow into its own hands. This year the city will hold the “Snow Much Fun Christmas Extravaganza” on Dec. 5, fake snow and all (read more on page 66). There doesn’t need to be a specific event for Opelika to ooze Christmas spirit, however. “This year, a new thing that Main Street is going to

work on organizing is, most likely it will be Thursday evening, there will be live music out by the Christmas tree in an effort to not only just create that Hallmark Christmas environment like we said, but also to promote downtown shopping and dining during the holiday season,” Ward said. Many people in this community lost family members, watched their business suffer or spent time in EAMC sick with COVID-19. And now people want a sense of normalcy at Christmas, said Ali Rauch, president and CEO of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce. “Christmas in Opelika is just a very special time of year,” Rauch said. “We have an incredible community … They want to experience their favorite traditions. And so for us to come in and say we’re going to cancel Christmas because of this pandemic, we just felt like that was a disservice to our community.” So Christmas is on, and there will be cheer. Sitting on Santa’s lap may be off the table, but his smiles will be full of warmth. Music will play, families will celebrate and Opelika’s Hallmark Christmas spirit will continue.



Merry Christmas 2020

A Christmas Tree Tradtion

Story By Wil Crews Photos By Robert Noles And Contributed By Gilbert’s Christmas Tree Farm


ay Gilbert bought his first Christmas trees in 1983. They were Virginia Pines. Five years later — after giving the trees time to grow — he made his first sale. Now, Gilbert and his family are opening Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm to the public for the 32nd year in a row. Originally, Gilbert’s farm was an 84-acre plot of land with access from country road 266 in Lanett, Alabama. He and his family planted Virginia Pines and joined the East Alabama Christmas Tree Association in 1983. “We had about 22 members; we were meeting, learning how to grow them and working together and all,” Gilbert said. “Out of the 22 farms we are the only one still in business.” Fast forward and Gilbert added an extra 142 acres of land in 2002 — bringing the farm three miles closer to the Valley area. It also brought the Gilbert family closer as they built their home on the new acreage. They have been there, selling Christmas trees, ever since. This year, Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm opened on Nov. 21 and will close on Dec. 20. They are open Thursday and Friday from 1 to 6 p.m. E.S.T., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. E.S.T., Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. E.S.T. and all day on Black Friday. When you arrive at the farm, Gilbert’s wife Joan, daughter Jennifer, daughter-in-law Amy, son Trey and son-in-law Matt will all be there to greet you. Joan, Jennifer and Amy work in the farm’s gift shop that was built in 2012. The store emanates the family atmosphere that surrounds the farm and offers a wide variety of gift items, beautiful wreaths, ornaments and bows. “It’s stuff that you wouldn’t find in Walmart,” Gilbert said. “We have customers now who really come out there just to buy decorations. We’re really the only place close by that has stuff like that.” The boys do most of the “dirty” work in the field and assist with the trees. Gilbert’s grandson, Ty, is currently learning the business as well. Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm sells four types of trees: their original Virginia Pines; Leyland Cypresses that were added in the late 90’s; Fraser Firs, which were added in 2007 and Carolina Sapphires. The trees vary in price and size: - Leyland Cypress: $7–$10 per foot; from 3–19 feet. - Carolina Sapphire: $10 per foot; from 5–9 feet. - Virginia Pine: $35–$40 depending on the field; $6 per foot; from 3–12 feet. - Fraser Fir: $60–$150; from 6–11 feet. The Leyland Cypress are the most popular, representing about 80% of Gilbert’s total tree sales.


Merry Christmas 2020

“For the Deep South Christmas tree farms … that’s the best tree we can grow,” Gilbert said. However, it’s the Fraser Firs that hold a unique distinction from all the other trees. The firs are the only trees not grown on-site at the farm. Each year, Gilbert’s brings in a new batch of Fraser Firs that are grown in North Carolina. “They [Fraser Firs] have to grow at an elevation above 2,000 feet so that knocks Alabama and Georgia out,” he said. Unlike other big box stores, Gilbert keeps the trees stored in water until the customer purchases them, ensuring the customer receives the freshest cut tree possible. “We figured we had to do something to be better than the box stores,” Gilbert said. “What we’re trying to do is keep the Fraser Firs from drying out. Basically, once we get them off the truck and cut the bottom of the tree, they are never without water until they go home with the customer.” One of the cooler aspects of Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm is that customers can pick out and cut their own tree. “That’s what’s taken off in the last five years or so,” Gilbert said. “People want to go out, bring the family out, go and find the tree and cut it themselves.” The tree cutting is just another part of what makes this

Ray Gilbert runs this farm with his wife, Joan.


family-centered business unique. Another fun feature of the farm centers around guests who arrive with young children. They can find entertainment for the children in the play area or with a complimentary Gilbert’s hayride. Gilbert and his family work yearround to make sure the farm is ready for customers during the holiday season. “The deal with why a lot of people get out of the Christmas tree business or don’t stay with it is it’s a tremendous amount of work,” Gilbert said. “There’s something to do every month. People think you plant these trees, go back in a few years and you sell the tree and that’s it. That’s what we were told when we got in the business, we didn’t know how much work it was either.” Gilbert trims his trees multiple times a year to make sure


families have the best possible selection of beautiful Christmas trees. “These trees don’t grow like Christmas trees naturally,” he added. “This year with all the rain, and I’ve started a different fertilizer program, I ended up trimming some of my trees four times — I’ve never done that before.” It’s not easy work, but it’s worth it. Gilbert said the most rewarding part is watching all the kids and families come out and have a good time. “Everybody wants to come out and work during Christmas tree season because it’s such a joyous and happy time,” he said. “…It’s just fun.”

Merry Christmas 2020


Join Us At The Table —46—


Merry Christmas 2020

Christmas Dinner Menu: BRUNCH: Michelle’s Breakfast Casserole Hannah’s Cream Cheese Braid Robert’s Special Homemade Waffles Woody’s Strawberry-Banana-Pecan Belgian Waffles Robert’s Homemade Maple Syrup STARTERS: Rolls with Will’s Cranberry Butter Michelle’s Deviled Eggs Michelle’s Sausage Balls DINNER: Wil’s Easy Crockpot Honey-Glazed Ham Wil’s Turkey in a Roasting Bag Will’s Dressing Wil’s Copycat Cracker Barrel Baby Carrots Michelle’s Gluten-Free Greenbean Casserole Rena’s Lime-Pine Salad Wil’s Sweet Corn Spoonbread DESSERT Will’s Gooey Butter Cake Will’s Peanut Butter Cups Hannah’s Peppermint Puffs Michelle’s Pumpkin Pie

The Live Lee Staff decided that it just won’t be Christmas without certain dishes. There are certain foods you eat at Christmas that you look forward to all year long. We all have them; perhaps they bring back fond memories, or they’re a lot of fun to make. Each of us has our own favorites too, and we decided to share them with you this year. Michelle’s Deviled Eggs No holiday meal is complete without deviled eggs. There is nothing all that special about my recipe––other than the fact that Jared absolutely loves them and expects them anytime we pull out the china for a special occasion. I like my eggs to be really full, so I always cook extra eggs, I blend the extras (whites and yolks) into the filling mixture and pipe it extra high. Another trick that I like to use is to steam the eggs instead of boiling. We place the eggs into a steamer basket and steam for about 14 to 15 minutes and then remove from heat and cover with cold water. They are easy to peel and rarely break apart when removing the yolks, leaving the perfect base for that extra filling. Hannah’s Peppermint Puffs I have fond memories as a child of making this cookie with my mom and brother each Christmas season. To make the cookie, we needed crushed peppermint, which turned into a sort of game at my house. We would place the peppermint candies in a plastic bag, head down to our garage (which has a concrete floor) and smash the bag with a wooden mallet. For whatever reason, this activity was always a lot of fun for my brother and me. Afterward, we’d get to use the peppermint to make this cookie — which is absolutely delicious. I’m not even that big a fan of peppermint. I bet this makes your family’s list of favorite cookies to have each year, too. Will’s Gooey Butter Cake Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis classic that pairs nicely with an October Cardinals game, follows thin crust pizza perfectly and ought to grace the tables of more southern homes. It’s a simple five-ingredient recipe that requires

only the advanced baking skills of preheating, mixing and the always tricky “place on center rack.” If there’s any left over, you won’t be able to resist having some as part of a well-balanced Boxing Day breakfast. Wil’s Copycat Cracker Barrel Baby Carrots I love this recipe for many reasons — ironically, none of them have anything to do with my not-so-present love for carrots. The main reason that this is one of my favorites is that my family used to prepare them every holiday season. You see, my dad loves baby carrots. But for the rest of the family, they are like a fancy dress hanging in the very back of the closet — good on certain occasions, but you could do without. Still, for all the things my Dad does for the family, it’s nice to see him enjoy something that he likes so much. Now that I’ve graduated from college and am off on my own, things are different. But the smell of those baby carrots still takes me back to our family kitchen on a cold December afternoon — everyone working together to prepare a delicious holiday feast. That time spent with family is the best part of the holidays to me. The carrots are good too. To be honest, I’d eat carrots every day if it meant more days like that. Rená’s Lime-Pine Salad There are certain foods that remind me of special people or special times in my life. One is my mama’s Lime-Pine Salad. This festive limegreen Jello salad made our Christmas spread complete. Growing up, I thought it was great to be able to eat a side dish that tasted like a dessert. Every sweet bite is a hug from mom. I lovingly continue her tradition with my family because Christmas just ain’t Christmas without it. Robert’s Homemade Waffles and Syrup What makes this recipe special is for years when everyone was busy during the week, it was Daddy’s turn in the kitchen on Saturday morning. Now when the kids come home for the holidays, the one thing they look forward to is the homemade waffles Dad makes. A special time with the family!

Easy Crockpot Honey Glazed Ham Wil Crews

over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer the mixture for about five minutes and then remove from - ¾ cup packed light brown the heat. Place the ham in a sixsugar quart slow cooker, making sure - ½ cup honey you can put the lid on. - ½ cup water Pour the glaze over the ham, - ¼ cup Dijon mustard trying to cover as much of the - 1 – 8 to 10 lb. bone-in, ham as possible. Cover and cook spiral cut ham on the low setting for 4–5 hours. Baste and turn the ham as Place brown sugar, honey, needed. The ham is ready when water and mustard in a small the internal temperature reaches saucepan and bring to a simmer 140 degrees.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix, one egg and Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis one melted stick of butter, then spread evenly in 9x13 pan. classic that ought to grace the In separate bowl, combine cream dinner tables of more southern cheese, powdered sugar, remainhomes. If there’s any left over, you won’t be able to resist having ing eggs and remaining butter (also melted). Spread evenly in some as part of a well-balanced Boxing Day breakfast. pan on top of cake batter mixture. - 1 box yellow cake mix Bake for 30 minutes or until - 4 eggs, divided - 2 sticks of butter (one cup), golden brown. Sprinkle top with powdered divided sugar, cut as you would brown- 8 oz. Philadelphia cream ies and serve. cheese - 1 16-oz. box powdered sugar . Mrs. Fairless’ Gooey Butter Cake

Peppermint Puffs Hannah Lester - 3/4 cup butter - 1/4 cup sugar - 1 egg - separated - 1 teaspoon vanilla - 2 cups flour - 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy - Chocolate chips Mix the butter and sugar together

and stir in the egg yolk and vanilla. Add in the flour while mixing, in parts. Mix in the peppermint candy (we normally crush the peppermints in a plastic bag and just smash them.) Roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Beat the egg white lightly. Take each dough ball and roll it in the egg yolk and then the sugar. Place a chocolate chip in the center of each dough ball. Back for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.


Merry Christmas 2020

Michelle’s Deviled Eggs

place in mixing bowl. Set aside 24 white halves to fill. Chop the remaining egg whites and - 18 eggs all the egg yolks and mix together - Mayonnaise until fine. - Mustard Add a tbsp of yellow-mustard. - Salt & Pepper Add the mayo by the spoonful until - Turmeric or Paprika you reach your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper and blend until Place eggs in a steamer basket and smooth. put in pan with boiling water. Steam Place in a decorating bag with a eggs for 14 to 15 minutes. large star tip and pipe into the egg Remove from heat and place in cold water. Let cool completely. Then gently whites. Sprinkle with Turmeric or Paprika peel the eggs and halve them. Remove the yolks from the eggs and before serving.

Copy-Cat Cracker Barrel Baby Carrots Wil Crews Serves 6 • 3 pounds fresh baby carrots • 1 ½ teaspoon salt • 1 ½ tablespoon sugar • 3 tablespoons butter 1. Place the carrots in a 2-quart saucepan over medium

heat and add enough water to just cover them. Put a lid on the saucepan and bring to a boil. 2. Turn the heat to low once it boils and then let simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until carrots can be pierced with a fork. 3. Drain the carrots well and return to the saucepan. Add the salt, sugar and butter. 4. Stir over low heat until the butter is melted and the carrots are coated in the mixture.


Take Pride In Your Community is Holiday Season Contact Lee County District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham for information on you can help keep litter off the roadways in your community.



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Christmas Cakes Story and Photo By Ann Cipperly


his Christmas, give your family the gift of scrumptious homemade meals and special desserts, including a variety of decadent cakes after months of dealing with a pandemic and uncertain times. Whether it is a tall red velvet or luscious coconut cake, holiday desserts become family traditions passed down from one generation to another. Most cakes are better prepared a day ahead. To ensure that the cake layers will look attractive, line cake pans with foil and coat with a non-stick spray. After the layers have baked and cooled, pull the cake out of the pan by the foil. Turn the layer onto a cake plate and peel off the foil. Most cake layers will freeze well. Just be sure to wrap them tightly. The Lane Cake is a famous southern cake created by LaEmma Rylander Lane of Clayton in Barbour County. She printed the recipe in her cookbook “Some Good Things to Eat,” which she self-published in 1898.

The confection received public attention when Lane received first place for the cake at a county fair in Columbus, Georgia. She originally named the confection Prize Cak, but later changed it to The Lane Cake. Red velvet cake is another traditional southern cake for Christmas. While my mother’s red velvet cake was always a hit, adapting it with a creamy white chocolate mousse filling created another layer of flavor. Long stemmed cherries dipped in melted white chocolate add a festive look for Christmas. A chocolate cake with yellow or dense dark chocolate layers is always a popular choice. Fill the layers and cover the cake with a cooked icing or chocolate cream cheese buttercream. Gathering with family is different this year, but we can continue the tradition of special southern cakes for creating memories around the table, as we celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas.


Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Mousse Filling and White Chocolate Covered Cherries Ann Cipperly - 2 eggs - 2 cups sugar - 1½ cups cooking oil - 1 cup buttermilk - 1 tsp. white vinegar - ½ bottle red food color - 2½ cups all-purpose flour - 2 tsp. cocoa - 1 tsp. baking soda White Chocolate Mousse - 1½ tsp. unflavored gelatin - 12 oz. white chocolate chips or squares, chopped - 3 cups heavy cream, whipped Cream Cheese Frosting - 4 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened - 2 Tbsp. butter, softened - 2 cups powdered sugar White Chocolate Covered Cherries - 1 jar cherries with stems - White chocolate or almond bark Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two cake pans. Beat eggs; add sugar. Combine oil, buttermilk, vinegar and food color. In another bowl combine dry ingredients. Add dry and wet ingredients alternately to batter, beginning and ending with flour. Pour mixture into pans and bake for about 25 minutes or until tests done. To make the mousse Line cake pan with foil and plastic wrap; set aside. Soften gelatin in ¼ cup cold water; set aside for 5 minutes. Place 1/3 cup cream in saucepan. When hot, stir in gelatin to dissolve. Melt chocolate in microwave. Gently fold in gelatin mixture; stir until smooth. Chill for about 10 minutes until just cool. Fold in whipped cream. Place in prepared pan; cover with plastic wrap. Chill until firm. To place on cake layer, pull out of pan with foil and place upside down on cake. Carefully peel away foil and plastic wrap. When cool, place one layer on cake plate; top with white chocolate mousse and then the second layer. To make the cream cheese frosting,

cream together cream cheese and butter; add sugar and mix until smooth. Spread cream cheese frosting on top of cake. To make the cherries, place cherries on paper towel to dry. Dip in melted chocolate. Place around edge of frosted cake. Chill until ready to serve.

German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Filling and Ganache Frosting Cora Reames - 1 cup butter, softened - 2 cups sugar - 4 large eggs - 1 cup sour cream - 1 tsp. vanilla - 2 cups all-purpose flour - 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa - ½ tsp. baking soda - ½ tsp. salt - 1 cup whole buttermilk - 4 oz. bar German sweet baking chocolate, melted and cooled - Pecan halves for garnish; optional Coconut Pecan Filling - 1½ cups heavy whipping cream - 1½ cups sugar - 5 egg yolks - 6 Tbsp. butter - 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut - 1½ cups chopped toasted pecans Chocolate Ganache Frosting - Two 4-oz. bars German sweet baking chocolate, chopped - ¼ cup butter, softened - 1½ Tbsp. light corn syrup - 1 cup heavy whipping cream, boiling Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray with flour. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla, beating until combined. In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.


Add melted chocolate; beat in until combined. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks. To make the coconut-pecan filling: in a medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar and egg yolks. Cook over medium-low heat, until sugar is dissolved and the mixture coats the back of a spoon. This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; add butter, coconut and pecans, stirring until butter is melted. Let this stand until the mixture reaches room temperature. It will make three cups. Spread this mixture evenly between cake layers. Place the cake in the freezer for at least one hour. To make the chocolate ganache frosting combine chopped chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Pour boiling cream over the chocolate mixture. Let stand for one minute. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill the mixture for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. Spread chocolate ganache frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Spread remaining one-third coconut-pecan filling evenly over top of cake. Arrange pecan halves around top and bottom of cake, if desired. Store the cake in the refrigerator.

Merle's Yellow Cake with Caramel Icing Kathryn W. Whetstone - 1 cup butter, softened (not margarine) - 2 cup sugar - 4 eggs, at room temperature - 3 cups all-purpose flour - 3 tsp. baking powder - 1 cup milk, room temperature - 1 tsp. vanilla Caramel icing - 5 1/2 cups sugar, divided - 2 1/2 cups milk - 2 Tbsp. Karo syrup

- 1 stick butter (not margarine) - 1 tsp. vanilla Cream the butter, add sugar and mix together well. Add one egg at a time, beating after each one. Mix and sift dry ingredients then add them alternately with the milk to the creamed butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Bake in two square pans or three small round ones, greased and floured, at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. Cool the cake. To make the caramel icing, boil five cups sugar, Karo syrup and milk together until it reaches a rolling boil. While mixture continues boiling, melt 1/2 cup sugar in heavy skillet. Add melted sugar to the mixture. Cook until a soft ball is formed when tested in cold water. Remove from heat. Add the butter and vanilla. Cool the mixture then beat until thick enough to spread. (If mixture becomes too thick, add milk to thin it.) Spread the caramel icing on the cake.

Sour Cream Coconut Cake Janet Bartlett - 1 box Duncan Hines butter cake mix Frosting - 2 cups sugar - 16 oz. sour cream - 12 oz. pkg. frozen coconut, thawed - ½ pint whipping cream, whipped Make the cake according to directions on the box using two 8-inch round cake pans. After the cakes cool, use a long knife and slice the cakes through lengthwise into two layers. To make the frosting, blend sugar, sour cream and frozen coconut. Let it sit until sugar is dissolved in the sour cream mixture. Save one cup for topping. Spread the remaining sour cream mixture between layers. Blend the reserved one-cup sour cream mixture with the whipped cream and spread on sides and top of cake. Refrigerate at least 24 hours. The longer the better.

Merry Christmas 2020

Mama’s Famous Chocolate Pound Cake with Fudge Icing Jennifer Roach - ½ lb. butter, softened - ½ cup Crisco - 3 cups sugar - 6 eggs - 3 cups Swans Down cake flour - ½ tsp. baking powder - 4 tsp. cocoa - 1 cup milk - 1 tsp vanilla Fudge Icing - 2 cups sugar - ½ cup milk - ¼ tsp. salt - ¼ cup white Karo syrup - 2 heaping serving spoons cocoa (enough to make it dark) - 1 stick butter - 1 tsp. vanilla Cream butter and Crisco together and add the sugar and the eggs. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with milk. Add the vanilla and bake in greased Bundt (or pound cake) pan at 325 degrees for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. To make the icing, mix all except vanilla in boiler over low heat until butter is melted. Stirring constantly, let it come to a boil for two minutes. Remove the boiler from the heat and beat until lukewarm and “thick-like.” Add the vanilla and beat until it is thick enough to spread. Spread the icing onto the cake. It is especially important to allow a lot of the icing to flow over into the hole in the center of the cake. That’s what makes it famous.

Nana’s Caramel Pound Cake with Caramel Frosting Peggy Dyar - 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar - 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar - 1 cup sugar - 1 cup butter or margarine, softened - 1/2 cup vegetable oil - 5 large eggs - 3 cups all-purpose flour

- 1/2 tsp. baking powder - 1/2 tsp. salt - 1 cup milk - 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract Caramel Frosting - 1 box light brown sugar 1/2 cup butter or margarine - 5-oz. evaporated milk - Dash of salt - 1/2 tsp. baking powder - 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Beat the sugars and butter at medium speed until blended. Add in the oil, and beat until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove from the pan, and cool on a wire rack. To make the caramel frosting, bring the first four ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring often. Boil, stirring constantly for three minutes. Remove from heat; add baking powder and vanilla. Beat at medium speed with an electric mix for five to seven minutes or until thickened. Drizzle quickly over cake.

Grandmother’s Alabama Lane Cake Trudy Baker - 2/3 cup butter, room temperature - 2 cups sugar - 1 tsp. vanilla - 3 cups all-purpose flour - 2 tsp. baking powder - ½ cup milk - 7 egg whites Filling: - ½ cup butter - 1 cup sugar - 7 egg yolks

- 1 tsp. vanilla - 1¼ cups chopped raisins - 1¼ cups chopped pecans - 1¼ cups grated coconut - Small wine glass of whiskey or wine to taste (can also use brandy or grape juice). Cream the butter and sugar and add the vanilla. Combine the flour and baking powder and add alternately with milk to creamed mixture. Beat the egg whites and fold into the batter. Pour the batter into four greased and floured pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until tests done. Cool the cake. To make the icing, cream butter and sugar and add well-beaten egg yolks. Cook on low heat until it is thick. Remove from the burner and add the remaining ingredients. Spread on cake layers and top layer.

Southern Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Donna Woodham - 3 cups all-purpose flour - 2 cups sugar - 1 tsp. salt - 1 tsp. baking soda - 1 tsp. cinnamon - 3 eggs, beaten - 1½ cups oil - 2 tsp. vanilla - 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, not drained - 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans - 2 chopped bananas Cream Cheese Frosting - 8-oz. pkg. and 4 oz. (half of another 8 oz.) cream cheese, softened - 4 Tbsp. butter, softened - 1 box confectioner’s sugar - 2 tsp. vanilla In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir in the eggs and oil, mixing until blended. Add the vanilla, pineapple, bananas and pecans, stirring until blended. Pour the batter into three cake pans coated with nonstick spray. Bake at 350 degrees until the cake tests done, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then remove them to


a rack. To make the frosting, cream together cream cheese and butter and add sugar and vanilla. Beat them until smooth. Then spread the frosting between the layers and on top.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting Rosario Thomas Butter and flour for coating and dusting the cake pan - 3 cups all-purpose flour - 3 cups granulated sugar - 1½ cups unsweetened cocoa - 1 Tbsp. baking soda - 1½ tsp. baking powder - 1½ tsp. salt - 4 large eggs - 1½ cups buttermilk - 1½ cups warm water - ½ cup vegetable oil - 2 tsp. vanilla extract Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting - 1½ cups butter, softened - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened - 1½ cups unsweetened cocoa - 3 tsp. vanilla extract - 7-8 cups powdered sugar - ¼ cup milk (as needed) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three nine-inch cake rounds. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined. Add the eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until smooth. This should take just a couple of minutes. Divide batter among the three pans. I found that it took just over three cups of the batter to divide it evenly. Bake for 30–35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool completely. To make the frosting, beat butter and cream cheese. Slowly add remaining ingredients, blending well. Then frost the cake and enjoy!

We express our deepest appreciation for the privilege of serving your family. We get up each day and are blessed to work with a incredible group of people and serve this wonderful community.


Merry Christmas 2020


Photo contributed by the city of Opelika


Merry Christmas 2020

24 Years In The Making Story By Hannah Lester Photos By Robert Noles


hristmas in a Railroad Town has been a staple in Opelika for 24 years. “It’s a great family-friendly event,” said Ken Ward, Opelika Main Street director. “So we have Santa out there, we have miniature train rides, we have petting zoos, we have all sorts of different activities at the different shops and it’s just a great way for people to come on out and enjoy their community during the holiday season and there’s things for people of all ages.” The event this year will need to be altered slightly to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. “The good thing about this is event is it is mostly outdoors,” Ward said. “So that is something that really benefits us.” Christmas in a Railroad Town will take place on Dec. 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown Opelika. Normally, different businesses would set up craft stations or activities inside their shops. But, due to COVID-19 restrictions, businesses are not encouraged to host activities, Ward said. Don’t fret — the event will still include activities and crafts. This year, they will be set up outside where social

distancing can be observed. “It will be just small, little Christmas-related crafts,” Ward said. “So things such as decorating reindeer ornaments with the candy canes. Just little things like that, that don’t take very much time but are fun ways for children to get involved in the holiday spirit.” There will be pictures with Santa, too, though from a distance, he said. “You’ll be distanced during that part and be having to wear your masks, which will, I think, be a good reminder of this year when you look back on it,” Ward said. A live nativity scene will likely replace the annual petting zoo, too. Christmas movies will play on a loop at Courthouse Square. If that wasn’t enough, there will be live music. The event helps to support the restaurants and shops in downtown Opelika. “We’re eliminating most of our outside food vendors here so that there’s not lots of long lines and things like that,” Ward said. “And to try to get people to try and go toward our downtown restaurants and businesses, as well, during this time.” Although businesses won’t host craft stations, Ward still


encourages patrons to visit and maybe do some Christmas shopping. “I think it’s really important to have this event during this time because the holiday season is a time for joy, happiness and to get together with friends and family and I think this has been a very difficult year for anybody in our community and so I think we need the holiday season this year more than ever,” he said. “And it will be a great way to get together with members of the community in a safe and socially-distanced way while also enjoying all the beautiful decorations in our downtown.”


Merry Christmas 2020

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Let's Have A Ball —64—

Story By Wil Crews


o celebrate the holiday season and to give the families of Opelika a unique chance to come together, the Opelika Theater Company will host the first-ever Santa’s O’Town Ball. “This Christmas is going to be so different for so many families,” said Santa Ball Chair Becky Bootz. “[OTC is] just trying to do some good stuff for the holidays.” This one-of-a-kind ball isn’t your typical luxurious nighttime gala. The event will not feature the traditional ballroom etiquette and procedures — gowns, high heels, suits and slow dancing. But, instead, Santa’s O’Town Ball is a tacky Christmas sweater ball. “It’s going to be awesome,” Bootz said. “Wear your ugliest, most tacky Christmas sweater.” The event will be spread out over two nights, Thursday, Dec. 17 and Friday, Dec. 18, at the Southside Center for Arts in Opelika. OTC decided to split the ball into two nights in order to safely adhere to all


COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. The ball itself will consist of a DJ, dance competitions (with prizes for winners), arts and crafts, pictures with Santa and a separate photo booth. Additionally, OTC encourages eating before the ball, but guest will be greeted with ‘sweet and salty boxes’ for snacking on throughout the night. After guests have jingle-bell-rocked their night away, they will receive Christmas-treat-filled goody bags on their way out. Thursday night’s ball will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and will be for children ages 4 to 8. Friday night will also run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. but for children ages 9 to 13. OTC encourages all mom and son and dad and daughter duos to attend the lighthearted tacky Christmas evenings. “Opelika is just such a small and wonderfully tight knit community and the theater is such a great way to come together,” Bootz said.

Merry Christmas 2020

Parade In Reverse

Story By Hannah Lester Photos By Robert Noles



now will fill the courthouse square and Opelika residents will experience the magic of Christmas this year for the Opelika Christmas Parade. “The Christmas Parade is a tradition that goes back many, many years in Opelika and everyone loves it,” said Ali Rauch, president and CEO of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce. “So we really wanted to make sure we had a parade.” The parade will be reversed, however, and instead of standing still as float after float drives past, those who come to watch the parade will now walk around town to view each entry. “The people who are normally driving in the parade, the entries, they will actually be stationary and parked,” Rauch said. “So all of our parade entries will be parked in designated spots around courthouse square. And people have the option of either decorating their space and leaving it set up with their logo and information on it or staying in their space.” The “Snow Much Fun Christmas Extravaganza”, which will be held on Dec. 5, will combine the annual parade with an event created last year called “Snowpelika”, she said.


The ”Snow Much Fun Christmas Extravaganza” will begin with the parade route, which will start at 4:30 p.m. at The Breezeway, feature a socially-distanced Santa Claus and conclude with a Christmas tree lighting, all while snow fills the courthouse square. Given the warmer-than-average temperature of Alabama and regular lack of snow, Opelika’s snow does not depend on the weather. “Kids who have never seen snow, it might be artificial snow, but it still is real snow that we create,” Rauch said. The changes were enacted to encourage social distancing and comply with COVID-19 guidelines. “Some extra planning we have to do is being able to properly rope off the parade entry spots, so we’re working on that now,” she said. “And then also truly kind of mapping out exactly where people can be because everything has to be properly spaced out,” she said. “That is going to take some extra time and care ahead of Dec. 5.” There will be a total of 65–70 groups of people who will participate in the parade this year, Rauch said. “We want to provide this service that brings such joy to our community,” she said.

Merry Christmas 2020

Because We Care

Everywhere you look, you see AuburnBank employees volunteering and serving to make our community better and to help it grow. That’s because AuburnBank cares. Since 1907, AuburnBank has cared about and invested in this community which is why we have such a strong presence in local charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity, United Way and the Food Bank of East Alabama, to name a few. We’re a local bank with deep roots. We care deeply about our community, so just imagine how much we care about our customers. AuburnBank. Your Partner. Your Neighbor. Your Friend. BANK OFFICES: AUBURN • OPELIKA • PHENIX CITY • NOTASULGA • VALLEY

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Larger-Than-Life Christmas Cards Story By Hannah Lester Photos By Robert Noles


or years, residents throughout Lee County have looked forward to driving through the Camelot Subdivision for “Christmas in Camelot.” Larger-than-life Christmas cards that showcase the art of Opelika High School students are placed in the subdivision off Rocky Brook Road. The cards are by no means new. They were painted

many years ago under the tutelage of art teacher Roslyn Stern. “Mom was always very community-oriented,” said Roslyn’s son, J. “I am sure that someone approached her about doing the cards and she jumped all on it.” Traditions run strong in Lee County, and the cards have been displayed for over 30 years by friends and neighbors.


Roslyn began painting the cards with students in 1986 or 1987, J said. “They were very well received,” he said. “I think they were looking to do something that accompanies the Luminaries in Collinwood, but something that could be up longer than just one day. It has grown and expanded so much, and it has become a part of Christmas and Opelika.” Drive throughs are encouraged in the neighborhood from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night in December. “I’ve always loved to see my mother’s artwork in the city,” J said. “Especially something like this. It just shows her legacy; this has lasted and grown over the last 34 years.”


Merry Christmas 2020

hit the ice at sweetland Story By Michelle Key Photo Contributed by Sweetland Amphitheater


he Sweetland Amphitheater, located just north of Lee County, in LaGrange, Georgia, is hosting “Sweetland On Ice”–– a covered 5,500 square-foot, open-air ice skating rink this winter. The rink opened on Nov. 20 and will remain open until Feb. 15, 2021. It is located on the Great Lawn. TICKET INFORMATION: (tax included in all pricing) Ice Skating + Skate Rental: $14 Children’s Ice Skating + Skate Rental (10 years & under): $10 Bring Your Own Skates: $8 Group Rate (10+ people): $12 Adults/ $8 Children Tickets include two-hour enjoyment of the ice rink. Once you turn in your skates, you will need to purchase another ticket to skate again that day. The ice rink will be cleared periodically for ice maintenance and special programming. Sweetland Amphitheater is located at 110 Smith St., in LaGrange.


s a m t s i r h C y Merr y l i m a f r u o from s r u o y to 1910 Pepperell Parkway, Opelika 334-749-1471 —73—

Merry Christmas 2020

Christmas Movies All Day Long Story By Hannah Lester


ing “won’t you guide my sleigh tonight,” pick out a Christmas tree with Charlie and Lionel, see the ghosts of past, present and future (in muppet form), build a Christmas village with Buddy the elf and finally — prepare your hope against intruders, all in one afternoon. The Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library is hosting a Christmas movie marathon on Dec. 23. Children, and adults, can watch all their favorites in one day. “Hosting events for educational and entertainment purposes is part of the Library's core mission. This will be our fourth year hosting a Christmas Movie Marathon,” said Rosanna McGinnis, the library director. The marathon will begin at 10 a.m. with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which is a 30-minute film. There will be a 30-minute break and then “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will preview at 11 a.m. This feature will last 47 minutes. Soon after, at 12 p.m., “A Muppet Christmas Carol” will play and will last 1 hour and 29 minutes. “Elf” will play at 2 p.m. and will last 1 hour and

37 minutes. Finally, the library will show “Home Alone” at 4 p.m., which will last 1 hour and 43 minutes. “We believe it is still important to provide a space for people who may not have family in the area,” McGinnis said. “At Cooper Library, we love books, but we love people more. Helping people stay connected even while we keep our distance is very important to us. Thanks to COVID-19, the library will limit seating for the event. Social-distancing guidelines will be observed and guests will be required to wear masks. “Typically, because many people are already traveling for Christmas or have established plans, the movie marathon has lower attendance,” McGinnis said. “This year, lower attendance will be a benefit as we adhere to strict social distancing guidelines … To follow these guidelines, space is extremely limited.” The library is located at 200 South 6th Street and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To reach the library or for more information, call (334-705-5380) or email (


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Merry Christmas 2020

An Opelika Tradition T

Story By Will Fairless Photos By Robert Noles

he Victorian Front Porch Tour is one Opelika Christmas tradition that is not going to be affected by COVID-19. The tour will go on exactly as scheduled since its format is already conducive to adhering to social-distancing guidelines. “There was the briefest of moments when they said, ‘Should we do the Victorian Front Porch Tour?’ and I said, ‘Of course we should,’” said Rosanna McGinnis, director of the Lewis

Cooper Jr. Memorial Library.“You’re already outside, you already come with your family. We said this is the one thing we can do no matter what.” This is McGinnis’ first year in charge of the tour (she replaced Roger Bell, who retired), and she said she wanted the position because she loves Christmas and the tour was part of her introduction to Opelika in 2016. “I am definitely surrounding myself with people who love


Christmas as much as I do,” she said. More of a challenge than COVID-19, and one of the many tasks McGinnis realized contributes to the final product she and so many others love is maintaining the Santa “mannequins” displayed along the tour route. “They’re papier mache, so there’s maintenance that goes into making sure they look fresh,” McGinnis said. Another challenge has been securing entertainment for the five days of the tour (Dec. 9 through Dec. 13). The Victorian Front Porch Tour began in 1993 with just a few homes participating; this year, 60 homes on North Eighth and Ninth streets will be decorated with life-size Santas, angels, toys, carousel horses and other Christmas-themed figures, according to the city’s website. The tour begins at the Heritage House on North 8th Street and 2nd Avenue. The 2020 schedule of events: Dec. 9: Driving tour 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10: Driving tour 5 to 9 p.m. and bike tour 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 11: Driving tour 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 12: Walking tour 6 to 9:30 p.m. Streets are closed to non-foot traffic Dec. 13: Driving tour 5 to 9 p.m.

Members of the community dress in period-appropriate clothing for the event.

McGinnis said that the future of the Victorian Front Porch Tour looks bright. “I always want to make it bigger,” she said. “I want to see more people in costumes. We actually have access to many hundreds of costumes that people can borrow and dress up and walk around for the tour. I have a lot of plans.” For more information about the tour, visit Victorian-Front-Porch-Tour.

Members of the community dress in period-appropriate clothing for the event.


Merry Christmas 2020

Gift To The Community Story By Abby Driggers Photos By Robert Noles


lowing candles will soon line the streets of Collinwood once again as a part of the annual Collinwood Luminaries event on Friday, Dec. 18. Collinwood neighborhood residents will transform

their roadways into a Christmas journey commemorating the path of Christ’s birth. The luminary lighting ushers in the holiday season and illuminates the neighborhood with the glow of over 1,500 candle-filled bags. “The neighborhood has always seen the luminaries as


its gift to the community,” said Ruth Tolbert, the 2020 Collinwood Luminary coordinator. Motorists enter from Collinwood Street at the corner of Tenth Street and Oak Bowery Road, and are guided down a one-way lit road to a live nativity scene on Mclure Avenue featuring volunteer shepherds, angels, wise men and live animals–– an annual gift from the First United Methodist Church of Opelika. From the safety of their vehicles, organizers said participants can enjoy the scenes and drive through as many times as they wish. The event is free to the public and will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Visitors are asked to turn off their vehicles’ headlights as they slowly progress through the Collinwood subdivisions. Tolbert said she hopes this year’s event will be as


special as possible. “In our 53rd year of the Christmas tradition, we continue to invite the community to come and enjoy the Luminaries,” Tolbert said. The first Collinwood Luminary was conducted in 1967 when local garden club members asked residents Aileen Samford and Lucy Salter to start a luminary procession, according to Auburn Opelika Tourism’s website. The Collinwood tour is supported by the Opelika Mayor and city council, the Public Works Department of Opelika, Opelika Power Service, Opelika Police Department and Boy Scout Troop 858. To learn more about the Collinwood Luminaries, please visit the Collinwood Luminaries Facebook page for more information.

Merry Christmas 2020

Santa And Aubie Bring Christmas Cheer E Story And Photos By Hannah Lester

ach year, families and Auburn residents line up on Toomer’s Corner, Samford lawn and along Gay Street to watch Santa and Aubie wave from their parade floats. The Auburn Christmas Parade is an annual tradition that will look a little different this year.

“I believe that we need something like a Christmas parade now more than ever,” said Jessica Kohn, downtown coordinator for the Auburn Downtown Merchants Association. “This year has been a roller coaster and so many events and traditions that we look forward to have been canceled. The Christmas parade


brings joy to people of all ages and it would be a great way to end this crazy year. An ending that we all could use.” Families will be asked to keep the Christmas spirit within their own families and stand with their own groups along the parade route, rather than everyone together at Toomer’s Corner, Kohn said. “All traditions are special, especially holiday traditions,” Kohn said. “Our community members look forward to this every year. It is a great way for us to come together and celebrate the holiday season.” Everyone will be asked to wear a mask and so will Santa, Kohn said. Speaking of Santa, normally ‘Santa On The Corner’ takes place each year before the parade, but this year, unfortunately, children won’t be able to sit on Santa’s lap.


Wish lists will need to be given to Santa from six feet apart and although pictures will still be allowed, they will be non-contact. The parade will be held on Dec. 6 and will begin at 2 p.m. There is normally a wide variety of participants that ride in the parade. Last year Aubie and Santa sandwiched organizations such as Iheartradio, Spicer’s Music, the Auburn City Cheerleaders, girl scouts, local schools, the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center and more. “We have some very creative floats and it's always fun seeing how the groups will decorate, sing, dance, etc.,” Kohn said. “My oldest daughter loves seeing Aubie, the fire trucks and Santa at the end. It's also a great time to get some holiday shopping done either before or after the parade. Our merchants will be open.”

Merry Christmas 2020

“Come For What You Can Give” Story By Wil Crews Photos Contributed By Habitat for Humanity


wenty-four years strong. That’s how long Habitat for Humanity’s annual “Cookie Walk” fundraiser has generously welcomed in the Christmas holiday at Grace United Methodist Church in Auburn. Typically, guests attending the spirit-filled celebration would “walk” the aisles, displayed with thousands of home-baked cookies and goodies, and pick their favorites. Getting their fill of decorated delectables, shoppers pay $6 per pound for their tasty treats. However, typical is the last word anyone would use to describe 2020. COVID-19 has affected even the jolliest, and its impact will affect this delicious community festivity. This year, to adhere to strict COVID-19 and social-distancing guidelines, the 25th annual ‘Cookie Walk’ will be a drive-through event in the parking lot of Grace United Methodist Church at 915 E. Glenn Ave. on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 9 to 11 a.m. “It’s not going to be a cookie sale like it’s always been,” said Mark Grantham, the executive director of Auburn/Opelika Habitat for Humanity. “Now were going to have just one ‘Day of Giving Event.’ Its more or less a donation drive


instead of a cookie sale like we typically do.” Drivers will enter the church parking lot and will drive through a line of 69 Habitat Homeowners, volunteers and supporters — each one holding a wooden framed house that represents the 69 homes that Habitat for Humanity has built in Lee County. At the end of the line, monetary donations — card or cash — will be collected by volunteers. To honor the ‘Cookie Walk’ theme, each donor will receive an individually wrapped Habitat for Humanity cookie. “In the past, you have come to ‘Cookie Walk’ for what you can get; this year, come for what you can give,” said a Habitat for Humanity press release. If anything, the need for affordable housing has only increased during the pandemic. “A lot of people have been hurt by this, but a lot of people have still been blessed, so maybe there are people who will still be willing to give and to help us,” Grantham said. Every year, the event is sponsored by the WeHelp Coalition of 12 local churches. To make up for the expected loss in fundraising money,


Grantham said the churches plan to step up by organizing offerings and donations specifically for Habitat for Humanity. “We feel like just what the churches are going to do will offset what we typically raise,” he said. “Hopefully we will have people from the community that see about it, hear about and come participate too.” The decision to go forward with the ‘Cookie Walk’ — even in its altered state — is a cohesive attempt to bring together friends, volunteers and Habitat for Humanity board members to raise funds to build new homes in Lee County. “The money given to the ‘Day of Giving Event’ this year will help us build Home No. 70 and 71 in Auburn,” said Auburn/Opelika Habitat for Humanity Board President Karen Turner. “Our Habitat partner families work hard to volunteer 500 hours building other homes and their own, complete homeowner and financial classes, save a down payment and make a nonprofit mortgage payment that is recycled to build more homes. Together we build homes, community and hope.”

Merry Christmas 2020

Auburn In Gingerbread Story By Hannah Lester Photos Contributed By The Auburn University Hotel And Dixon Conference Center


tantalizing amount of gingerbread is set up in the Auburn Hotel each year, but it isn’t for eating, rather it creates a model of Auburn’s campus and city. The Gingerbread Village is an annual tradition that the Auburn Hotel works on for months leading up to

Christmas. Each department of the hotel takes a building to create from gingerbread, and when they’re all put together — they replicate Auburn. Buildings include Samford Hall, Toomer’s Corner, Storybook Farms and more.


The departments have creative authority over the building to design how they see fit and assignments change from year to year, said Todd Scholl, director of sales and marketing. “As people can break away from their workday, you take a little half-hour break, ‘I need to go take a walk, I’m going to go work on the Gingerbread Village,’” School said. “So everyone takes a turn. And a lot of people come in after their off-shifts sometimes because they just want to focus on it.” The basic structure under the gingerbread remains the same, Scholl said. In fact, the structures are made of wood and were created by students and a professor, Paul Holley, with the McWhorter School of Building Science. Normally, the hotel holds an opening event following the Auburn Christmas Parade, but that will need to look

it but it keeps families separate,” Scholl said. The hotel will probably announce when the village opens on social media, School said, to encourage a softer opening. “People, when they come here for dinner, they can go check it out,” he said. “You don’t have to make a special trip here, it’s open and it’s free.” There will be a new addition this year to the village. “This year it’s exciting because we’re adding another new building,” Scholl said. The last new addition was the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center. Now, the village will include The Ag Heritage Park Pavilion or ‘The Red Barn.’ Additionally, within the next year or two, another new building will be added: the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, which is currently under construction next to the hotel, Scholl said. Internally, the departments hold a small contest each

a little different this year. Instead, the village will open without a grand event, but it will still be open to the public for the holidays. There will be socially-distanced markers on the floor to indicate six-foot distances. “So you can still get a good look at it, get pictures of

year to see which building is the best. The judging is completed through the Auburn Downtown Merchants Association. But guests will certainly have their own favorites. Perhaps it will be the same as last year, or maybe the new addition to the village will take the cake (or gingerbread).


Merry Christmas 2020

Light Up The Night


Story By Michelle Key Photos Contributed By The Montgomery Zoo

ighting up a yard, home and business with bright strands of light has become quite the tradition here in America. This year, those looking for popular light displays will have a few options. Here are four to consider: Auburn: Walker Family Christmas Lights The Walker Family created a local, spectacular light show in Auburn in 2014. The light show consists of more than 5,000 bulbs and is synchronized to 13 popular songs. The selection includes holiday favorites but also music from Star Wars and Frozen. The show usually begins right after the Thanksgiving weekend and will run through the weekend after New Years Eve. View this free light show at 2078 Autumn Ridge Way in Auburn. Montgomery: Montgomery Zoo Christmas Lights Festival The Montgomery Zoo will be transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland on Dec. 3.

Attendees can view the lights while strolling through the zoo, riding the train or from the Zoofari Skylift Adventure Ride, according to the Montgomery Zoo website. A new feature this year is the Christmas Tree Village at the Mann Museum. Twenty trees will be decorated by businesses, groups and other organizations from around the area. Children and families can visit Santa and his elves in ‘A Winter Wonderland’ that waits upon exiting the Christmas Tree village. Visits with the jolly guy will be a fun and safe experience following all of the federal and state COVID-19 compliance guidelines. Santa keepsake photos can be purchased for $5 per photo, according to the Montgomery Zoo website. Prices and options vary. To purchase tickets or for more information visit ( Components/Calendar/Event/5666/2981?curm=12&cu ry=2020.) The Christmas Lights Festival ends on Dec. 25. The zoo is located at 2301 Coliseum Parkway in Montgomery.


Atlanta: World of Illumination World of Illumination’s mile-long, drive-through light show takes place this year in Marietta, Georgia, and it will take viewers back to the days of playing the beloved children’s board game Candyland. The theme of the light show is Candy Rush, and drivers will be surrounded by 40-foot-tall candy canes, giant animated Christmas characters and twinkling sweets galore, according to World of Illumination’s website. “Santa’s Magic Portal” will lead through a 500-footlong tunnel, entering into a gigantic gingerbread village with Christmas characters and simulated snowfall. The exhibit contains approximately two million lights that are synchronized to holiday music. Singing along is expected. The World of Illumination’s Candy Rush light show is located at Six Flags White Water, 250 Cobb Parkway N. #100 in Marietta, and the show officially opened on Nov. 13 and will run through Jan. 3, 2021. Tickets must be purchased online (www. Pine Mountain: Calloway Garden’s Fantasy in Lights Located in beautiful Pine Mountain, Georgia, Calloway Garden’s Fantasy in Lights has been named one of National Geographic’s ‘Top Ten Light Displays in the World.’ This year’s event is bound to be stunning with more than eight million lights and 15 displays. The Magical Field of Lights was added this year to mark the 28th year of Fantasy of Lights. The Field of Lights scene is nearly two football fields long, featuring a Christmas tree over 10 stories tall, which will make it the tallest Christmas tree in the South. Two short, 10-minute shows will be held at Robin Lake inside Calloway Gardens this year: The Nativity, which is a reverent and inspiring telling of Jesus’ birth accompanies inspirational music and an orchestrated lights presentation, and ’Twas The Night Before Christmas — this holiday favorite has been put to music and illustrated with twinkling images of sugar plums and jolly old St. Nick doing his night’s work. The show opened on Nov. 14 and runs through Jan. 4, 2021. Ticket prices vary based on date and can be purchased online ( The gardens are located at 4500 Southern Pine Drive in Pine Mountain.

Hilyer & Associates, CPAs

Je�fery A. Hilyer,

Attorney at Law and Certified Public Accountant

Jackie H. Moon, CPA Erin K. Arrington, CPA H. David Ennis, SR., CPA Patti C. Davis, CPA 614 2nd Ave, Opelika, AL 36801


Round and Round Story By Abby Driggers Photo by Robert Noles


hristmas in Valley would not be complete without the 64th annual Christmas merry-go-round that offers residents and visitors alike a chance to experience the magic of the holiday season. The Christmas merry-go-round officially opened to the public on Nov. 29. From opening day until when local schools close for winter break, the merry-go-round will operate from 5 to 9 p.m. on weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Once local schools are out, the merry-go-round will operate from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Christmas merry-go-round will close for the season on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, at 5 p.m. The city of Valley Recreation Director, Laurie Blount, said the merry-go-round is a chance for many to enjoy the sights and scenes of the Christmas season. “The merry-go-round has become such a staple in this community,” Blount said. “Today, people come from all over to share the tradition, whether it’s their first ride or the 50th.” The carousel routinely attracts 10,000 riders, young and young-at-heart, each year. The merrygo-round celebrated its three millionth rider during the 2019 Christmas season, Blount said. “Christmas will be here before we know it and with it comes [the] beloved Christmas merry-goround,” Blount said. For more than six decades, the Christmas merrygo-round has been bringing joy to riders. This year, Blount says she is looking forward to increasing the total number of riders. Gifted by West Point Pepperell Mill Company

in 1959, the original carousel kick-started the tradition, bringing seasonal cheer to the community. West Point Pepperell became West Point Stevens and later West Point Home, Inc. and the city of Valley worked with the company to keep the carousel in the area, according to the city of Valley’s website.


West Point Home Inc. ended operations in Valley in the 2000s, but the city, local businesses and citizens came together to continue the over 60-year-old operation. The city of Valley took on the responsibility of bringing the event to the Greater Valley area in 2005. City employees operate the merry-go-round and dutifully count the

number of riders each year. The merry-go-round is located on the old tennis courts in front of Langdale Mill at 600120th Ave. in Valley. For more information, visit the city of Valley’s Christmas merry-go-round Facebook page or call the Valley Community Center at 334-756-5290.


Merry Christmas 2020

Wreaths For Our Fallen Story By Will Fairless Photos Contributed By Wreaths Across America


reaths will still be laid on the tombstones at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery this year, although the communitysponsored event will be closed to the public. Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization that was founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine Business Owner Morrill Worcester in 1992. That annual tribute went on quietly until 2005 when a photo of the stones and wreaths went viral and attracted nationwide attention and support to

the event. The next year, ceremonies were held at more than 150 locations. Almost 15 years later, that number is in the thousands and wreath-laying ceremonies are held in each of the 50 states. Wreaths Across America’s annual trip from Harrington, Maine to Arlington has become known as the world’s largest veterans parade, including stops at schools, monuments and veterans’ homes to further the organization’s mission to “remember, honor and teach,” according to its website. Fort Mitchell is one of the thousands of locations that will hold wreath-laying ceremonies

this year to honor fallen veterans. It is also one of many locations that will have a ceremony that looks different than in previous years. “This year is crazy, as you know,” said Karrie Schwerin, the location coordinator for Wreaths Across America at Fort Mitchell. “So we are forced to do things a lot differently. We will be pre-recording the ceremony, which is stripped down to mainly just the speech and placing the seven ceremonial wreaths.” Those seven ceremonial wreaths represent each branch of the military and POW/MIA soldiers. The wreaths will be laid on Dec. 19 and will be placed when the cemetery is closed to the public, unlike in past years. “Every year we use this ceremony and event to

celebrate those that gave their life for us to live ours,” Schwerin said. “What better way during the holiday season to do so than to place a wreath on their headstone, say their name and thank them for the ultimate sacrifice?” Each wreath laid on a tombstone was sponsored for $15. The deadline for 2020 was Nov. 30. “There is nothing sadder than placing some wreaths on headstones then running out and being unable to finish,” Schwerin said. Those who could not participate this year can do so next year. To learn more about Wreaths Across America or to find out how to sponsor wreaths, visit www. To do the same for Fort Mitchell, visit


Holiday Event Schedule Nov. 15 through Jan. 4 : Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens. Register here: events?k=Fantasy_In_Lights.

Dec. 6 through Dec. 23 : The Auburn Gingerbread Village at the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center. Read more on page 84.

Dec. 1 through Dec. 31 @ 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. : Christmas in Camelot Lighted Tour at Camelot Way. Read more on page 70.

Dec. 8 @ 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. : Family Discovery Hike: Winter Solstice at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center pavilion. No registration required.

Dec. 3 @ 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. : Virtual Performance by Eric Essix at the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center. Register here: Dec. 3: Virtual EAMC Foundation 3rd Annual Christmas Ball. Sponsor by contacting Dec. 4: Story time with Mrs. Claus in the evening at the Auburn/Opelika Marriott. No reservation needed. For more information, visit: https://www.aotourism. com/Event/41091/Storytime-with-Mrs-Claus-at-theMarriott-Resort/. Dec. 5 @ 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. : Holiday Decoration Swap and Big Book Sale at the Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library. Dec. 5 @ 10:30 a.m to 12:00 p.m. : Gingerbread House Building at the Auburn/Opelika Marriott. Register here: Dec. 5 @ 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. : Snow Much Fun Christmas Extravaganza at the Opelika Courthouse Square. No registration required. See more on page 66. Dec. 5-6 @ 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sun : Christmas at Choctafaula Farms. No registration Required

Dec. 9 through Dec. 10 @ 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. : Victorian Front Porch Horse Drawn Carriage Rides at the Trinity United Methodist Church student center. Register here: tickets/p/tpzax4ib4ulhzo5jkw30xlq1o0hhy4. Read more on page 76. Dec. 9 through Dec. 13 @ 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. : Victorian Front Porch Christmas Driving Tour at North 8th Street and 2nd Avenue. No registration required. Read more on page 76. Dec. 10 @ 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. : Nature Walk: Winter Solstice at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center at the pavilion. No registration required. Adults only. Dec. 10 @ 6 p.m. : Victorian Front Porch Bike Tour at North 8th Street and 2nd Avenue. No registration required. Read more on page 76. Dec. 11 : Story time with Mrs. Claus in the evening at the Auburn/Opelika Marriott. No reservation needed. For more information, visit: https://www.aotourism. com/Event/41091/Storytime-with-Mrs-Claus-at-theMarriott-Resort/. Dec. 11 @ 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. : Christmas In A Railroad Town in downtown Opelika. No registration required. Read more on page 58.

Dec. 6 @ 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. : Downtown Auburn Christmas Parade. No registration required. Turn to page 80 for more information.

Dec. 12 @ 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. : Opelika Theatre Company’s Breakfast With Santa at the Southside Center For Arts. Register here: https://www.


Merry Christmas 2020

Dec. 12 @ 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. : Ho Ho Ho Hike at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center. Register here: event/hohoho-hike/. Dec. 12 @ 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. : Saturday Art Club - Holiday Themed at The Art Studio. Cost: $25. Dec. 12 @ 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. : Gingerbread House Building at the Auburn/Opelika Marriott. Register here: Dec. 12 @ 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. : Victorian Front Porch Christmas Walking Tour and Tree Lighting with Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller at Trinity United Methodist Church. No registration required. Read more on page 76. Dec. 12-13 @ 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sun : Christmas at Choctafaula Farms. No registration Required Dec. 13 @ 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. : Brunch with Santa at the Auburn/Opelika Marriott. Register here: Dec. 13 @ 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. : Opelika Theatre Winter Showcase at the Opelika Sportsplex Amphitheatre. No registration required. Donations encouraged. Dec. 13 through Dec. 20 : Hidden Elf On The Shelf in Downtown Auburn. Downtown Auburn will post clues on its Instagram each day. Whoever finds the elf will win a prize. Kage Fit, in Opelika, Alabama, is your Premiere Family Fitness Academy! Kage Fit offers martial arts classes to get you and your family in shape and looking good, and a tanning salon for that gorgeous summer tan you desire. Now is the time to join us for fitness. You won’t be crowded and fighting for space in our 6000 square foot facility. Enjoy the separation between the kids and adults. Children have their own waiting area before classes start. Two sets of showers and bathrooms make our facility one of the best around. 3613 Pepperell Parkway, Opelika 334-363-2727

Dec. 17 @ 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. : Opelika Theatre Santa’s O’Town Christmas Ball. Register here: https://www.opelikatheatrecompany. com/purchase-tickets. Read more on page 64. Dec. 18 @ 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. : Collinwood Luminaries off of 10th Street in Opelika. No registration required. Dec. 18 : Story time with Mrs. Claus in the evening at the Auburn/Opelika Marriott. No reservation needed. For more information, visit: https://www.aotourism. com/Event/41091/Storytime-with-Mrs-Claus-at-theMarriott-Resort/.

Dec. 18 through Dec. 19 : A Holiday Walk In The Woods at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center. Register here: www. Read more on page 12. Dec. 18 @ 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. : Opelika Theatre Santa’s O’Town Christmas Ball. Register here: https://www.opelikatheatrecompany. com/purchase-tickets. Read more on page 64. Dec. 19 @ 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. : Jingle Jog 5K at Toomer’s Corner. Register here: activeauburnjinglejog5k. Dec. 19 @ 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. : Fa-La-La Festival To Go at the Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library. No registration required. Dec. 19 @ 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. : Gingerbread House Building at the Auburn/Opelika Marriott. Register here: Dec. 19-20 @ 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sun : Christmas at Choctafaula Farms. No registration Required Dec. 21 through Dec. 22 @ 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. : Holiday Art Camp at The Art Studio. Register here: holidayartcamps. Dec. 23 @ 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. : Christmas Movie Marathon at Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library. No registration required. Read more on page 74. Dec. 31 @ 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. : Opelika Theatre New Year’s Eve Raising The Curtain Cabaret at the Southside Center for Arts. Register here:

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