Choir sings at 2017 Miracle on Main Street in Waterloo

A church choir sings carols at the 2017 Miracle on Main Street observance in Waterloo. This year’s event will be Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Content Exchange

WATERLOO — When the first “Real Christmas” observance was held in 1993, the American Civil Liberties Union objected to the display of a Nativity scene in LaFayette Park, calling it a violation of church and state provisions.

The event — now in its 25th year — not only survived, it evolved.

Organizers soon decided to ask churches to erect wooden sheds along Main Street downtown to give performers a space to re-enact Biblical scenes telling the story of birth of Jesus Christ. Church choirs also took part.

The event is now called Miracle on Main Street but organizers say it will still remind people that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It is set for Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, in the downtown area.

Miracle on Main Street 2018 will begin with the traditional apple pie contest, hosted by the Gridley Inn, at 4 p.m. that Friday. Pies will be accepted at the Inn between 4 and 5 p.m., and a panel of three judges will rate them on taste, texture and appearance.

The winning entry will be announced at the closing program on Saturday.

At 6 p.m. Friday, people will gather at the Waterloo Baptist Church on Route 96 for a special tribute to Edwin and Jean Nelson, members of the original group that founded Real Christmas in 1993. The special tribute is being planned by Dave and Darlene Duprey.

This year’s Honorary Angels will be announced, a small cantata will be presented and refreshments will be served.

Saturday afternoon activities will be at the Waterloo Community Center at 3 Oak St., starting at 1 p.m. There will be a puppet show, live Nativity scenes, singing, crafts, an area for making holiday cards for military members and an electric train display.

Shopping bags will be displayed in businesses on Main Street until Friday. Patrons may put their name and phone number in the bags for a chance to win a $100 prize.

A new event this year will be a Christmas tree decorating contest. Community members, businesses and organizations are invited to participate by decorating a 5- to 10-foot tree. The public can vote for the winner of a $250 People’s Choice Award or one of three $100 prizes for the prettiest, best themed and most humorous or creative trees.

More information is available from Bonnie Burlew at (315) 350-0180 or Nancy Gray at (315) 539-8741.

At 4 p.m. Saturday, contest winners will be announced at LaFayette Park and Peter Eisenberg’s food truck will sell hot chocolate and other refreshments.

The evening will end with remarks by Mayor Ted Young, group singing of Christmas carols and the lighting of the community Christmas tree.

All events are free and open to the public.

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