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Festival of Lights brings Crossroads residents together (w/video)

By Sara Sneath
Nov. 30, 2013 at 5:30 a.m.

Katherine Stevenson, 8, of Austin, bottom left, reacts to the sight of more than  350,000 lights being turned on for the Festival of Lights at the Lavaca County Courthouse in Hallettsville. "It was cool," Stevenson said, "The lights just came on so quickly."

HALLETTSVILLE - Julie Michalcik, 10, of Hallettsville, said she's always wanted to play an angel in the Hallettsville Christmas pageant.

"They're way older," Julie said about the girls who play angels in the pageant, called "Life of Christ."

The last few years, Julie played Jaris' daughter, who dies before Jesus can get to her but is brought back to life. This year, she graduated to the role of shepherd.

"We act like we faint when the angel comes," Julie said.

Julie may not see her goal of being an angel in the pageant realized.

This may be the last year for the 15-year tradition of re-enacting Jesus' life during the Hallettsville Festival of Lights.

"It's getting hard to get people to make rehearsals," Todd Schindler, 50, of Hallettsville said.

Schindler, who has directed the play since its inception, said the cast has ranged from 60 to 95 members. But recruitment is getting harder.

"It's 50-50 on whether we'll have the play again next year," Schindler said.

Within the pageant, there have been smaller traditions. Each year, a different baby plays Jesus, and all the disciples - except for Judas - are played by local ministers.

Dwight McCord, 45, of Hallettsville, has played Judas every year.

"I have no problem with it," McCord said. "Someone had to play this role."

McCord said he grows out his beard every year for the part.

"My wife doesn't like it," McCord said about his facial hair.

The Hallettsville Festival of Lights began in 1996. Two years later, Schindler started the Christmas pageant, which he put together from Bible passages.

Like shepherds in the Christmas pageant story, people from neighboring towns flock to Hallettsville every year to see the more than 350,000 bulbs light up the Lavaca County Courthouse, according to Jim Jakubek, a Festival of Lights board member.

"It really all comes together when the lights come on," McCord said.



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