Pearl River kicks off the holiday season with multiple magical events – Picayune Item

Pearl River kicks off the holiday season with multiple magical events

Posted 1:11 PM Monday, November 21, 2022

POPLARVILLE, Miss.— Pearl River Community College has been filled with holiday cheer this year, as both the Forrest County campus and the Poplarville campus held events to usher in the season. In Hattiesburg, members of the Wildcat family reunited for the fourth annual Making Spirits Bright. In Poplarville, the campus was abuzz with activity with nearly 4,000 community members joining faculty, staff and students for the sixth annual Wildcat Wonderland Concert and the student holiday concert, ‘Twas the Night.

After a two-year hiatus, the Forrest County Campus graced the Dr. Cecil Burt Special Events Room for the holiday season. The combination of delicious desserts, fellowship with friends old and new, and musical entertainment created a magical night for all.

The concert event featured local talent and has grown each year since its inception in 2017.

“Many of our faculty and staff bring their families to kick off the holiday season,” said event organizer Jackie Runnels. “I have learned that it is a unique way to keep our staff and faculty close and share our families with each other. Many members of the local community attend annually and it is a wonderful way to get involved in the community we serve.

“This year was a great success and we are already making plans for next year. We like to add a new element each year to keep it interesting.”

For Wildcat family members, the evening is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

“I look forward to coming here and seeing other instructors that I used to teach with for over 25 years,” said Nancy Reagan, a retired PRCC professor. “I enjoy coming here and seeing everything that all of you have done.”

Among familiar faces, you might also find first-time attendees like Susie Dubose of Hattiesburg.

“The wonderful thing about this is that local people showcase local talent. Young talents like our granddaughter. From now on, I would like to make this a regular event and bring others with me because I am very impressed and delighted.”

The Poplarville campus was transformed into a magical, holiday-themed wonderland with the chill of winter in the air. Every corner of campus had something to offer those who attended this free, community-focused event.

Along with beloved characters like the Grinch, Elsa, and Snoopy, guests were able to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Miss PRCC Savanah Faith Sylvest was Santa’s special helper for the night. Meanwhile, Mrs. Claus visited the children in the cafeteria where they were able to decorate sugar cookies and drink hot chocolate.

Several stations had hands-on activities for kids, such as making Grinch-approved slime with the STEM Club, writing letters to Santa at the PRCC Post Office, preparing Christmas Eve reindeer feed with Recruitment River Navigators, and playing games with members of the PRCC Baseball and Softball Teams.

A new addition to the activities was a pie walk on Centennial Green with children and parents joining in on the fun. Nearby, guests could visit a petting zoo that included a camel, small animal pen, and ponies for children to experience a guided walk through Centennial Green. Members of the Baptist Student Union helped remind people of the reason for the season with their live Nativity display.

Pass Christian’s Lucas Hamilton thoroughly enjoyed the festivities with his family, even watching his aunt dance at the concert.

“I liked everything, even the cotton candy and the animals,” Hamilton said.

Community members were invited to give back through a food drive for The Market and Backpack Buddies of Poplarville. staff members Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home were also holding a toy drive.

The end of the Christmas festivities was the annual festive concert with different groups of students. Community members of all ages and many PRCC students filled the Brownstone Arts Center for an hour of dancing and music.

This year’s theme was ‘Twas the Night’ and the night paid homage to Christmas Eve traditions and the music put a jazzy twist on some of the season’s favorite songs.

Student groups performing included the new PRCC Currents, The String of Pearls, PRCC Singers, The Voices, and the Jazz Cats. Hook, Line & Sinker, a trio of students also made a selection. Dr. Rudy Gatlin wowed the audience with his rendition of “O Holy Night” and Dr. LaDona Tyson led the audience in a medley of traditional Christmas carols.

Colton Smith from Poplarville is a sophomore at PRCC who attended with friends.

“I thought the concert was awesome,” Smith said. “They did a really good job and they loved the energy they gave off tonight.”

The evening concluded with “Go Tell It on the Mountain” hosted by Dr. Pickerling for Santa’s Second Line. Many attendees danced out of the auditorium as the drum line kept up the catchy beat.

“The concept was very well done,” said James Johnson. “What I liked the most was his departure; the way they marched out of the auditorium. The whole show felt very energetic, very enthusiastic, so it was a wonderful experience.”

A more holiday-focused event is scheduled on the Poplarville campus. The South Mississippi Ballet will once again take the stage at the Brownstone Center to perform the beloved ballet, “The Nutcracker.”

Performances are scheduled for Saturday, December 3 at 2 pm and 7 pm and Sunday, December 4 at 2 pm Tickets are $20 for orchestra seats and $17 for balcony seats. Discounts are available for groups of eleven or more. Buy assigned seats at or at the door one hour before the function.

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