HPT Vernon: Keeping a Christmas tradition glowing

VERNON,TX(RNN Texoma) - As drivers pass by the Wilbarger County Courthouse in this summer-like heat Christmas is probably the last thing on their minds.

However, a few blocks away the holiday rush has already begun for the Christmas on the Western Trail Committee.

Christmas on the Western Trail fills the Wilbarger County Courthouse with more than five miles of Christmas lights and 50 displays every year and puts on a parade downtown.

However, those in charge of bringing this holiday magic to town are worried this Texoma tradition could burnout.

Treva Tucker and Linda Stewart have been members since it all started in 2005.

"Some of us have talked about wanting a Christmas parade, and we talked about it for two or three years," said Tucker. "Finally decided well hey, somebody can do it, so I guess we can."

That is how the 13-year-old tradition was born.

"It has grown since 2005 from one little group of Christmas decorations and the parade to Christmas decorations on every side around the courthouse," said Tucker.

These ladies feel without it, it would not be Christmas in Vernon.

"It really means a lot and people enjoy it so much," said Tucker.

They said it is nice to see people's reactions when the lights are switched on Thanksgiving night.

"You can stand back and watch the children and watch just that awe in their eyes," said Tucker. "From the little ones on up to some of the older ones in their 80s."

Stewart said people come in from out of town every year.

"It would be really missed," Stewart said. "There would be an uproar if we just totally tried to do away with it."

Something they are trying to avoid.

Tucker said right now they have about 14 of their original committee members.

"But the average age of our committee is probably around 65," she said.

That is why they are looking to pass the torch. They said it is physical work to put up the lights and take them down every year.  Work that is going to require new holiday helpers.

"That will learn what we've been doing all these years and carry it on when we were not able to," said Stewart.

Something Pam Gosline,  first-time committee member and Vernon City Commissioner, is eager and willing to do.

"It puts beauty in our city, pride in our city and just brings a togetherness at Christmas time," said Gosline. "I want to do what I can to keep Vernon going."

She said she is not a young one either, and that is why they are hoping the next generation will step up too.

Like Logan Gonzalez a seventh-grader at Vernon Middle school.

She said it is just as important to her and her friends.

"Everybody my age they like to hang out with their friends and walk around it, look at the lights and drink hot chocolate," she said.

Gosline said the town is all about tradition, adding it takes a village to keep this one glowing.

"What they want really more is volunteers to help put up the decorations because there are a lot of decorations to put up," she said. "Then for this generation that's been doing it the last 13 years to train the new ones to come up to show them how to do it."

Tucker said it is a wonderful feeling to get to be a part of this and hopes newcomers will feel the same.

"If we don't keep this going and the closeness of the community going, then we are really losing something," she said.

This display is really for the city by the city. Tucker said all the funds to make this possible come from garage sales. The items are donated by those who live in town. Since 2008 they have raised around $90,000.

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