The 7th Annual Winter Carnival at Friedens Lutheran Church of Shartlesville celebrated not only the season but also and perhaps primarily “community.”
“We want to give back to community,” said Mark Mohn, who was emcee for the programing that was taking place in the Great Room. However, the fun and festivities at the annual event included many activities in other areas of the church and the church grounds.
Sharing their time and talent inside were such groups as the Andulhea Choir, headquartered in Rehrersburg and under the direction of Don Schilke. They sang in the church sanctuary. Doing likewise in the Great Room, where free food was available, were groups like The Dogs and Blue Mountain Junction, while the Days of Old group was scheduled to play outdoors. The Choirs of Friedens were also on the program.
Outdoors there were a variety of games of skill with prizes, a petting zoo with all sorts of animals, welcome wagon (for attendees to learn more about the church) and a horse drawn surrey that took guests to and from Santa’s Shop. There was also an Outdoor Chapel Service in the Outdoor Chapel and an outside reading of the Christmas Story at the end of the night.
Once folks got chilly, they could venture back inside and choose to have hot or cold drinks, cotton candy, pretzels, or have fun choosing what raffle prizes to try for on the second floor of the Christian Education Building. The entire event, except for the raffles, was free.
Helping do all this cheerfully and successfully were a myriad church and community volunteers, easily recognized by their Santa hats or by their traffic direction uniforms and reflective garb.
An estimated 600 to 700 guests attended the carnival which began in 2007 at a vision from Pastor Jerry Kulp, according Stacey Slifer, co-chair of the carnival.
“We were building our new Christian education wing and he came to me and said ‘So many people are curious about what this church is building up on the hill. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have an event such as an open house so the public could see it?’” explained Slifer.
Kulp wanted to have the event around Christmas time and have it be completely free. Slifer told him that she was thinking about something like the Christmas Carnival scene in the movie “Steel Magnolia’s” and as Slifer put it, “And so, Shartlesville Winter Carnival was born.”
“We are very blessed to have many sponsors for this event, and between the raffles, donations and the sponsors, we are able to host many families who enjoy a ‘free’ night out,” said Slifer.
She went on to say that the church benefits from hosting the carnival by seeing the joy of igniting the Christmas spirit and the gift of being able to spread the world of the true meaning of Christmas.
“We always end the evening with a live Nativity and the reading of the Christmas Story, to remind everyone of the reason for the season,” she said.
Each year, the carnival tries to add something new. This year one of the co-chairs Nicole Grogg suggested the horse drawn surrey to take people to visit Santa’s workshop.
“With a little help from Bee Tree Trails, and Nicole’s decorating magic, our mower shed at the rear of the property was transformed into a magical workshop where you could visit Santa and leave a list for him,” said Slifer.
Co-chair Heather Mohn was the mastermind for entertainment and books and schedules the groups so there is always some type of entertainment going on in different parts of the church.
“It takes a lot of bodies and volunteer hours to make this happen and they all do it because they love the feeling they get from providing the community with such an awesome opportunity,” explained Slifer. “We have a wonderful church family who willing gives their time and energy to pull this off. We also get extended support from individuals and other groups such as the boy scouts, Lions Club and Fire Police to name a few. The thought process is already rolling as to what next to do next year!”