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Christmas in Saratoga

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In bygone days, nearly every newspaper in the state of Wyoming had a detailed description of the Christmas program presented by schools and churches. We particularly enjoyed this one in the Dec. 31, 1896, issue of the Platte Valley Lyre.

Citizens of the Platte Valley are always on hand when a holiday is to be celebrated, and Christmas, the greatest of all holidays, brings them out in force. The most successful celebration ever held in Saratoga was of the united Sunday schools, held on Christmas Eve in the Episcopal Church. 

Extra seats had been put in the church, but all were soon occupied and many stood in the aisle. More than the usual interest had been taken in the work of adoring the edifice with evergreens, and the result was a pleasant surprise to all. 

Festoons of fragrant juniper were hung in the form of a tent, stretching from the four corners of the church to the center, and pine was wreathed gracefully about each window. Over the chancel arch, in letters of green, was the sentence, “We come to worship Him.” 

Beautiful trees of pine and balsam stood inside the chancel. The white altar hangings, bearing in gold the sentences, “In Remembrance of Me,” and “The Prince of Peace, the Son of God is Come,” contrasted prettily with the green of pine, balsam and juniper and completed the picture presented to the admiring eve.

The happy faces of almost a hundred children, seated in the front end of the church, at once attracted the attention of those entering the door. About 50 of those little ones took part in the experiences, and so well trained were they, not one mistake was made, and no prompting was required.

The solos, duets and choruses were all appropriate to the season and were sweetly rendered by the children. Several of the renditions brought down the house, and the silence during others was almost painful.

The children of the Sunday schools were trained by Miss Laura Huntington and those from the Kling school by their teacher Miss Lida Hood. No prettier number was on the program than the carol sung by nine little girls under nine years of age, and none was more perfectly rendered than the solo of seven-year-old Lizzie Williams. 

The solos and choruses of Ola Molter, Ethel Perkins, Mabel Lute, Jessie Cowan, Loretta Kelly and Roberta and Cara Huntington were all impressive. The dialogue between the Star of the East, Ethel Parker and the two children, Loretta Kelley and Jessie Cowan, was set to music. 

The Star was appropriately costumed and the other little girls bore a shepherd’s crook entwined with ribbons. The song and recitations from Miss Hood’s school were well received and much credit was given to them for venturing down on such a cold night. 

The rendering of “Rock of Ages” by Ethel Maxfield of this school was very fine, and the speech by Master Frank Brewer of this school brought down the house. Among the Saratoga little folk, the recitations by Axie Mullison and Louis and Harvey Eager were especially noticeable.

Immediately at the close of the program, the Fairy Queen appeared on the platform. This character was taken by Miss Nellie Bennett, in the traditional costume of white, with glittering wings and a golden wand. A prettier, more enchanting picture was never presented to the eyes of the Saratoga little folk, and to say they appreciated it would be putting it mildly. 

Scarcely had they recovered from this surprise, when the merry jingle of sleigh bells was heard outside, and the doors were opened in response to the call, “Clear the track for Santa Claus!” 

Up the crowded aisle he came, robed in garments trimmed in fur and with his pack upon his back, amid the shouts of laughter from the grown people and screams of delight from the children. 

After greeting the Fairy Queen and the children, he commenced his work of stripping the two handsome trees. Every child received a bag of candy, an orange and a Christmas card, and all were happy in the extreme.

Sixty-eight pounds of candy and seven dozen oranges were thus distributed. Santa Claus then told the children goodbye and was given three hearty cheers by the little folk. 

It has been our pleasure to see this friend of children represented by many different parties, but never have we seen as fine a presentment of old Santa as that of this entertainment.

The character was taken by Mr. J. B. Hassett, and he was simply immense. His flowing white hair, beard and rosy cheeks being a perfect disguise.

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