Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Butler Park scene of live Christmas nativity drama

The first annual “Christmas in Butler Park” was held Saturday, December 17th and featured a live nativity production complete with animals. The ceremony kicked off with a live portrayal of the Christmas story narrated by several guest speakers and was followed by the first official lighting of the Butler Christmas tree. Closing out the celebration, guests were treated to hot apple cider provided by Iron Mountain Inn and Doughnuts thanks to Food Country. The event was organized by the Butler Ruritan, who also provided cupcakes and hot chocolate.
A 35-foot Norway spruce located in the center of the park was decorated officially for the first time, thanks to the hard work of Ethan Proffitt, a Butler resident and employee of Mountain Electric who also generously allowed the use of one of their bucket trucks for the effort.
The nativity featured a very rare miniature mule brought in from breeder Susan Defellipio’s Elizabethton farm along with sheep from James and Laurie Kegley’s farm in Pine Orchard. Ruritan members Paul and Cheryl Fox portrayed Joseph and Mary while various speakers narrated parts of the Christmas story. In between, a community choir made up of various members from several local churches sang classic Christmas carols including “Away in a Manger,” “The First Noel,” and “Silent Night.”
Pastor Dan Wood of Butler Baptist Church along with Pastor Kreg Smith and music director Claude Duncan of Little Doe Baptist Church portrayed the three kings, each singing solos in a rendition of “We Three Kings.” Speakers included former Ruritan president Bill Benedict, Earl Garland, Deanna Shoun, Anna Dugger, Tim Tapp, Allen Koch, Jewel Dean McCloud, and Terry Potter. Mary Ann Smith provided music on a keyboard.
Following a group version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” Terry Potter sounded off the countdown for the tree lighting, ending the ceremony by inviting everyone to enjoy the refreshments. Although this was the first time that the Ruritan has tried this type of event, volunteers hope it is just the beginning of many more to come.
Located at the intersection of Highway 67 and Piercetown Road, the Butler Community Park has a long and interesting history of its own, beginning just as the town of Old Butler was ending with the creation of Watauga Lake. As work began on the new highway around the reservoir, the TVA filled in a portion of a ravine that was created during the construction.
Filling in both sides of Vandeventer Branch, which originates on top of Iron Mountain, a level area was created which was initially used by a local rod and gun club to use during turkey shoots and horseshoe competitions. Then in 1997 Johnson County licensed the area to the Butler Ruritan who took over responsibility for the park, beginning with the building of the current pavilion and playground while Larry and Deanna Shoun of Shoun Lumber paid to have the park fenced and landscaped.
Since then the park has been widely used for community events such as church revivals and parties. The Ruritan is hoping to further improve the park grounds in the near future, ensuring that events like the Butler Christmas celebration can continue. A group of community minded volunteers, the Butler Ruritan also used the opportunity to help support the local Milligan Food Bank by putting out bins for visitors to the nativity to place canned food as well as the Pet Adoption Center with dog treats.
In a season dominated by the hustle and frustration of buying presents, attending social gatherings, and decorating homes, taking some time to attend an event that tries to bring meaning and tradition back to the holidays can be very refreshing. Thanks to the efforts of some very dedicated individuals, residents and visitors to Butler were able to have just such an experience.