Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 12-16-16

We are so sorry to announce that we have been informed that the trolley will not be running in the morning. The next time it will run at the market will be the first Saturday in January. The trolley will still be decorated because it is still Christmastide but we will not be reading the book because it's all about Santa. We will honor tickets on the January runs but expect there will be plenty of room for anyone else.

All other activities of the market, including Mr. and Mrs. Claus, will still happen tomorrow.

Now to the column.

I prepare to leave for Colorado to spend the holidays with my children and their families, as we prepare to wrap up the holiday markets and begin the Winter Markets in January, it seems appropriate to reflect on those who have blessed us during this busy season.

Let’s start with this newspaper. Did you see the spectacular photos of the Polar Bear Express night rides in last week’s paper?  How the Sentinel photographer manages to capture the essence of the experience – in the dark! – is beyond me. Luckily it isn’t beyond Bob Foos. He has given us exceptional community stories and photos for decades. So much so that he is in the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. My college degree is in journalism and as a student of the field I can tell you we are very, very fortunate to have Bob and the Sentinel here in Webb City.

So I urge you to give yourself and others a gift this Christmas that will keep giving all year, a gift that will also support our community, a subscription to the Sentinel. 

Does a tree make a sound when it falls in the woods if no one is there to hear it?  Of course it does, but the sound is lost to history. Do our daily lives and special events remain solidly in the community memory without a newspaper to document it?  No, it does not. The Sentinel gives us a record of our community in a way that nothing else does. And, perhaps more importantly, it connects us as a community. Let’s keep it strong and healthy by subscribing. Send name and address along with a check for $32.39 to PO Box 150 in Webb City (that’s the Jasper County delivery rate, call for rates for other locations).

And if we’re thinking of blessings, let’s think about those streetcar volunteers!  This group of dedicated people (who happen to all be men right now) take many days from their busiest time of year to share the trolley with us. During December they make Polar Bear Express runs for school children, organizations and the general public almost constantly. Every Saturday morning they operate for the market, on Friday and Saturday evenings they put in about 6 hours for the parks department. During the week they have both days and evenings tied up. I think it’s safe to say they have made well over 125 rounds through the park this Christmas season. 

Why do Clyde (T-Bird) Thornbrugh, Jim Dawson, Lee and Frank Englert, Don Wynne, Jerry Fisher and Kavan Stull put in that kind of volunteer time?  (That's Jerry and Jim driving the trolley while volunteer Cathy Hall reads the Polar Express.  They are paying close attention to Cathy because when she reads the part where the train lets out a loud blast on its whistle, the trolley "motorman" does the same.  Jim gets the prize for being our best whistle blower - he pulls loud and long!) Jerry says they love seeing the kids light up on the trolley and hearing adults from out of town comment that they didn’t know about the streetcar and how special it is. He also said they get inspiration from the memory of Fritz Rogers who organized the rescue and renovation of the trolley and himself spent countless hours on it. In another 20 years Fritz’s story and the trolley’s might have been lost but it is secure because both have been featured in many issues of the Webb City Sentinel over the years. Hmmmmm.

We’re in for another wonderful market tomorrow. Santa will be there with Mrs. Claus. Our Santa specializes in pet photos, though of course, he is equally at ease with children.

The Polar Bear Express is running at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour during the market. Most of the tickets have been reserved but we always hold some back for the day of so check by the depot for a free ticket. 

Red Bridge is playing Christmas tomorrow. This most excellent blue grass and gospel band will put on a great show. Linda Stewart will serve breakfast.

We’ll have ten farmers in the pavilion plus all the other wonderful food and gift vendors that make the market special at this time of year. The pavilion will be full, warm and festive. Just two more holiday markets – yes, we’re open 9 to noon on Christmas Eve, then we start the Winter Markets on New Year’s Eve.

We’ll have a dot survey set up near the information table tomorrow. We’re gathering information on how folks learn of the winter market, what they like about it and how best to let more folks know that we’re open year round. Participants will receive a free market pen! (until we run out)  Just one more reason to make sure you get to the market tomorrow.