by Dale Grubaugh
It was just a two dollar event. An experiment actually, not a big production at all — Just a test run to see if anyone would be interested.
That was the beginning of Silver Dollar City’s “Ozark Mountain Christmas.”
I can’t recollect the exact year it started — dates somehow elude this ole brain of mine — but I do remember the setting.
What a beautiful and breathtaking sight. There were Christmas lights strung along the path leading from the turn-stiles to the Hospitality House. Then — as ya stepped out of the Hospitality House — ya stepped into a winter wonderland.
The buildings on Main Street were lined with Christmas lights, there were pine trees lit up, and music.
The music was being sung live by carolers stationed ’bout the square. I can remember joining in just because I wanted to.
The only shops that were open were the ones on the square: the General Store, Hannah’s Ice Cream Parlor, The Mill Restaurant as well as the Mine Restaurant and the Doll Shop.
Down the hills, Browns’ Candy Factory was open and I believe that was as far as ya could go in the city at that time.
Hill Street had been converted into a toboggan/sled run complete with “do it yerself snow.” Now, ole Elias had never seen a shore-nuff-snow makin” machine. What a marvel that was! The sled run wasn’t to long but it shore was fun.
Behind the Wilderness Church (where the School House and Grandpa Verns Garden set) was the stage area for the Live Nativity. There wasn’t a lot of watchin area, just standing room, but what a sight to behold.
The Christmas story being read and acted out with live critters and folks. Nothin’ fancy, just simple and plain. Beautiful and stirring.
The only parade that was happenin’ was the open air carriage ride around the Square.
The carriage ride is still my fondest memory of that evening. I had never ridden in a carriage and was excited at the prospect. My wife and I got in and slowly Mary Lou the mule plodded around the square. All of a sudden there seemed to be no noise from the outside, just the sound of the mule shoes on the pavement. And then, it began to snow. Real snow, not “do it yerself” snow.
If there ever was a magical Christmas moment, that was it for me. There wasn’t anyone waiting to ride so ole John took us for another turn around the Square. As the snow fell, the carollers sang and Mary Lou clopped, clopped, clopped along, a real sense of peace settled over me.
It was Christmas, Ozark Mountain style. Til next time, Merry Christmas!
’Till next time,
December 25, 2011
plate 1. Historic McHaffie Homestead on the square at Silver Dollar City.
plate 2. Detail of the homestead.
About the columnist:
Dale Grubaugh, writing as “Elias Tucker from The Holler” is a valued contributor to State of the Ozarks. He is a man who loves his Ozark culture deeply.
As a Southern Baptist preacher and pastor, Dale has dedicated his life to the people of these hills.
Also, he has worked hard in many facets of the Branson show industry. And he has lived the Ozarks, fishing, hunting, appreciating the wilds that are so close — but so closely forgotten.
— Joshua Heston, editor
plate 3. Back of the Wilderness Church at sunset.
plate 4. The gathering dark on Roark Mountain.
plate 5. Sycamore lights.
plate 6. Christmas lights at Silver Dollar City.