Organizers of Piedmont’s new Christmas display scale back project due to rain, lack of volunteers
by Laura Gaddy
lbgaddy@annistonstar.com
Dec 12, 2013 | 3024 views |  0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
L-R: Roger Keenum, Ted McDowell and Bob Forsee build one of the displays. A Christmas display at the Piedmont Sports Complex. Several display pieces line the drive around the complex and it will be open for the public to drive through and view Friday, Dec. 13-Sunday, Dec. 15. Admission is free. The display is entitled What Christmas Means. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
L-R: Roger Keenum, Ted McDowell and Bob Forsee build one of the displays. A Christmas display at the Piedmont Sports Complex. Several display pieces line the drive around the complex and it will be open for the public to drive through and view Friday, Dec. 13-Sunday, Dec. 15. Admission is free. The display is entitled What Christmas Means. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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PIEDMONT — The Piedmont Ministerial Association is erecting Christmas scenes for a public display that will open this weekend.

Fourteen plywood backdrops are painted to depict holiday scenes, and they will be decorated with a Christmas tree and lit with floodlights for evening shows at the Piedmont Sports Complex. The first show begins tonight at 6.

“I’ve lived this all year,” said Roger Keenum, president of the association.

Early Wednesday, about a dozen of the holiday scenes stood along a drive by the ball fields, but props and flooring were still missing. Keenum said volunteers would have to finish adding those displays before the show will be ready to open.

The association has a total of 27 scenes, many of which are designed to include live actors. Due to rainy weather, however, and a lack of volunteers, Keenum said, the association is cutting the size of this year’s show.

“We just need to get them up and get them dressed so people know what it’s going to be and strive to perfect it next year,” Keenum said.

Most of the scenes are designed to include live actors; it takes 195 people to fill them all, organizers said. By the time the Piedmont Ministerial Association was ready to plan this year’s display, just 12 volunteer actors had signed up, Keenum said.

One of the displays that will be left off this year is the “live” Christmas tree, which looks like a tree when filled with people and is designed to include 16 carolers.

One of the scenes that made the cut this year will show how people in other countries celebrate Christmas. The floor and stage of that display are filled with plywood cutouts of figures representing people from across the world, giving the set the appearance of a pop-up book.

“It’s like you open a book up and it shows the whole world, the water and the land,” Keenum said.

Last fall, after three months of discussion, all seven members of the association agreed to take the donated Christmas scenes from a group in Dadeville. Eighty-year-old Laeman Butcher said he had organized the Dadeville group for 25 years.

Butcher, who is in Piedmont to help open the show this week, said only two of 12 members who began organizing the Dadeville show are still living.

That group had trouble getting support for the event in recent years, but not in the beginning, Butcher said.

He said people in Dadeville came together to build the scenes in 1988. When it was displayed for the first time, he said, hundreds of vehicles lined up, filled with people wanting to see it.

“I believe the entire town was there to celebrate the accomplishment,” Butcher said.

Dadeville churches helped for the first 12 years, but participation waned after church members stopped, said Karen White, Butcher’s daughter.

“I think they just grew tired of it,” White said.

The Piedmont display will be open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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