When the doors opened on Christmas Celebration in Marion at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, the Marion Community Center was already full of art, food, and the people who made both. In just a few hours, a food drive received $1,100 worth of food to donate to Marion County Emergency Food Bank.
In the basement of the city building, Mary Beth and Greg Bowers put on a puppet show about the meaning of Christmas for an audience that grew throughout the performance. By the end of the show, about 20 children were gathered around. Afterward, author Shana Rothrock spoke to the children about writing, and developed an idea for a story with them.
Activity wasn’t limited to the city building, though. Artists and musicians were scattered throughout downtown Marion. At Gallery 101, while artist Janessa Wood spoke with visitors about her art and its focus on horses, Dave Anderson of Hesston played his hammer dulcimer. He heard the instrument the first time at a concert and decided he really liked it and decided to get one of his own. He started playing about 14 years ago. The instrument is mostly used in folk music alongside mandolin and fiddle, but Anderson mostly plays solo.
At 3 p.m., a crowd gathered for a parade down Main Street. Dozens of motorcycles, each with an American flag streaming behind, led the procession that included Mary and Joseph, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and an entire Nativity scene on a float.
Simultaneously with the events downtown, a home tour organized by Marion City Library attracted 520 guests, including quite a few from Augusta, El Dorado, and Wichita. At $5 per ticket, the event raised $2,600 for the library, before expenses.
The Christmas events didn’t end when the sun went down, though. The eighth-annual Tunnel of Lights at Marion County Lake attracted 410 vehicles, most with three, four, or more passengers, organizer Margie Schwartz said Monday. She estimated there were 1,300 to 1,350 visitors for the event. For a while, the line stretched all the way back to the low water bridge.
“Thank goodness we had enough cocoa,” she said.