Lighting the tallest Christmas tree in Payne County started the beginning of the holiday season in Glencoe. The tree was provided by the Payne County Economic Development Authority and sponsored by the Glencoe Civic Organization.

“Santa Claus and free hot chocolate with cookies from Amanda Hendrickson and Ra’Chel Ryba - two of our cafeteria cooks - helped us celebrate at the third annual event,” said Cheryl Jeffrey who heads the child nutrition program for the Glencoe Public Schools. “Michael McFarland played Santa. Volunteers helped decorate throughout the Glencoe Business District.”

The Glencoe Civic Organization was re-established in February 2016 with the Christmas Tree Lighting and Town Christmas decorations as its first goal. Highlights of this year’s event are new street light decorations refurbished by Paula Hopper, Brandi Hodges and Josh Caldwell. Aaron Matheson submitted the grant for the Christmas tree. Shane and Cassie McClain helped with fundraising costs to hang banners. Jeremy and Shallyn Tillery, along with their daughter Toni, brought a tractor to put up the largest tree in the county. Angie Henderson and Aaron Matheson braved the cold harsh winds in completing the seasonal set-up. The Glencoe High School Student Council and National Honor Society members helped decorate windows and hung garland around the poles on Main Street.

A bench and quaint light fixtures are featured near the tree for a picture-perfect spot to take photographs at the corner of Main and Oklahoma Streets.

Glencoe Elementary School students practiced each day to prepare for the annual Christmas Play held this week in the Jennifer Lazenby Event Center. Holiday songs and a surprise play were presented in the afternoon for high school students and in the evening for parents and guests.

The Glencoe Junior High Christmas Ball is an event that seventh and eighth grade students look forward to every year. Teacher Donna Stallings has sponsored the Christmas Ball for 24 years.

“We get to hang out with our friends and enjoy ourselves in a Christmas setting,” said seventh grade student Denton Ray.

The theme this year was Candy Land and Santa’s Workshop. Winter Wonderland was the theme for the dance floor. Students in the eighth grade selected the menu which is usually a formal sit-down dinner, but food stations were chosen this year featuring culinary delights from around the world including hot chocolate, spiced apple cider, a Mexican fiesta bar, Italian specialties, American treats, and tons of sweets with candy plus holiday dessert tables. Everyone had fun playing a dirty Santa game in a gift exchange.

“It’s a wonderful tradition,” Stallings said. “Students enjoy dressing up and eating special food.”

Her daughter, Tabitha Wright, has been helping with the Christmas Ball since joining the faculty several years ago. Several parents assist, too.

When the school takes a break for the holidays, many students get together at church activities in the community. A tradition that began in 1902 upstages any fresh resolutions each New Year’s Day at Glencoe United Methodist Church on the corner of Main and Perry Streets. The group has never missed a New Year’s Day lunch except during World War I when public gatherings were banned because of an influenza epidemic. Members of the church, which averages about 40 members in weekly worship, host more than 400 people for the annual chicken noodle dinner featuring black-eyed peas, too. Homemade pies and cakes top the warm meal for anyone who wants to visit the church on New Year’s Day. Musical entertainment highlights the lunch gathering with takeout available for guests who want to come and go. Donations are accepted to benefit church missions and other activities.

With a population of a little over 600, Glencoe has several churches with many activities. Check community calendars for other activities in Glencoe during the winter break.

Columnist Jamie O’Bryant is a freshman at Glencoe High School. Many students in the GHS Newspaper Course and Media Production Course contributed to this report including Jordan Beaver, Carson Brewster, Kash Bundy, Olivia Cannon, Bryce Coe, Ryan Cook, Lexi Clark, Tucker French, Wayne Gomez, Dayton Johnson, Jace Low Dog, Johnathan Martin, Houston Patten, Samuel Snider, Navaya Spears-Caldwell and Michael Tanner.