I’ve lived in Huntsville for almost 20 years now, and I could give myself a lump of coal for not discovering the Living Christmas Tree sooner than I did. I remember seeing the commercials about it years ago and I knew vaguely what it was, but it took a long time before I actually went. So if you, dear reader, are like I once was and just haven’t gotten around to experiencing this Christmas tradition, or maybe you don’t really know anything about it, I’m here to help.
And by help I’m going to tell you that you MUST GO!
First Baptist Church (this is the one on Governors with the big mural and awesome bell tower) will present the 29th annual presentation of the Living Christmas Tree 2013 Thursday, December 19, 2013 through Sunday, December 22, 2013. Evening performances will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Matinees will be Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 p.m. This event is free of charge, but advance tickets are required.
The Living Christmas Tree 2013 (LCT) itself stands 39 feet tall, weighs 6,000 pounds, features more than 7,500 pieces of greenery and 13,500 lights. The tree is constructed in three days by members of First Baptist who volunteer their time and efforts. Volunteers also assist with ticket orders, parking of cars and ushering.
LCT features a choir of 175 singers and a 60 piece orchestra. Directed by the Rev. Billy Orton, minister of music and worship, the Living Christmas Tree 2013 will feature festive arrangements of familiar carols, beautiful settings of new and traditional Christmas music and the candlelight processional with singers throughout the church sanctuary. Special musical guest this year is the a cappella singing groups Committed (on Saturday and Sunday) and Prosper (on Thursday and Friday).
Each year the program is different and this year’s is titled “All My Heart”.
LCT’s program is different each year. So far, last year’s program that featured Irish music with Slipjig has been my favorite. I may have to make room for a new favorite this year with the wonderful a callella sounds of these special guest groups.
Thursday and Friday will feature the group Prosper. Founded at Oakwood University, Prosper is a contemporary gospel a capella group consisting of six members; Arion Mills, Randel Hall, Brian McDaniel, Nick O’Connor, Michael Fraser II, and Cheon Brathwaite. Find out more about Prosper on their Facebook page.
Also comprised of six members, Saturday and Sunday’s special guests are the group Committed. Also comprised of six members; Tommy Gervais, Dennis Baptiste, Geston Pierre, Maurice Staple, Robbie Pressley and Therry Thomas, Committed began in 2003 at Forest Lake Academy and solidified their sound while at Oakwood University. Committed has grown to be a very sought after a cappella group for many events all over the world. Find out more about Committed on their web site.
If you take a moment and watch any of the videos featuring these groups, you will want to see them perform live. I can’t wait!
Something for Everyone
Living Christmas Tree 2013 is for the entire family. Each year, they have an abbreviated performance especially for young children. This performance eliminates narration and contains selections that would be most be enjoyed by children. I recommend this if you want your little bitties with you during the program. I had a fidgety three-year-old who just barely made it through a full length Saturday night performance and having gone through that experience, I highly recommend the children’s performance on Sunday. Your other option, and the one I use now, is taking advantage of the free child care that is provided at all performances for children through age 4. Volunteers will show you the way and I promise, your kids will have a great time.
Living Christmas Tree 2013 Tips
There is an has an excellent Living Christmas Tree 2013 FAQ that I recommend reading. Here though, are the tips that I found most useful and discovered through personal experience:
- Arrive early. Doors open one hour before the performance and seating is filled in first-come first-served. This is important if you desire to sit in a certain area. Also, be prepared to fill the rows up. The sanctuary will be packed and everyone sits close together.
- Another reason to arrive early for best available parking. Don’t be surprised of having to park across St. Clair and walking a bit. If you find that you must park across the street, drop off at the door those that can’t make the hike.
- It is cold in the sanctuary to off-set the heat generated by the lights on the tree. I recommend no less than an extra light layer (like a sweater), a regular cool weather coat, a scarf and gloves. You may even, if you are particularly sensitive to cold, bring a stadium blanket.
I hope I have convinced you to go to the Living Christmas Tree 2013 if you’ve never been, or see it again if it’s been a while. It’s become a Christmas tradition with my family. It’s another one of those very special things that make Huntsville such a great place to call home. Merry Christmas!
Event Information: The Living Christmas Tree 2013
Dates: Thursday, December 19 through Sunday, December 22, 2013
Times: Evening performances will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Matinees will be Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: Though a free event, tickets must be reserved in advance. Tickets are available on the First Baptist Huntsville website, or stop by the church at 600 Governors Drive or by phone at (256) 428-9422.