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Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime


With Christmas spirit in the air, the Bolivar community is buzzing with numerous holiday celebrations and traditions.

A time for togetherness, many residents can look forward to these upcoming Christmas events.

Bolivar Christmas Parade is “Merry and Bright”

The Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Christmas parade starting at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.

The theme for the parade is “A Merry and Bright Christmas,” encouraging participants to illuminate their floats during the nighttime event.

Before the parade begins, community members can visit the gazebo on the square between 3 to 5 p.m. to get a free Polaroid picture with Santa at Polk County Library's Polar Pictures photo booth.

This year’s Christmas parade will also have a shorter route to accommodate walkers from having to travel a lengthy distance.

“It is our hope that the new route will be more accommodating for marching bands and parade walkers,” says parade chairman Jared Taylor in a recent press release. “And we think it will be a safer route for all involved, whether marching or viewing.”

Parade participants will line up at 4 p.m. at Southwest Baptist University. From there, the parade route is set to move north on Springfield Avenue, turn west onto Broadway Street, and head south on Lillian Avenue before coming to a stop at the Bolivar Schools Central Office parking lot.

“Not only is this route shorter, but it also travels with fewer turns, more streetlights, and sidewalks for the majority of the route,” says Taylor in the release. “The chamber is thankful for the guidance from City of Bolivar Police and Fire Departments as well as the Bolivar City Works Department helping us design the new route with spectator and participant safety in mind.”

Community feedback and interest in the nighttime parade has been well-received, says Chamber manager Judy Ross.

The first through fourth place parade float winners will each receive a cash prize. Participants who registered by Monday, Nov. 28 will qualify for judging. Winners will be given their awards prior to the start of the parade; therefore, eligible floats will need to be in the line up and ready by 4:45 p.m. to be judged.

Instead of being assigned a number, parade participants will now line up in the order of their arrival at SBU. Groups with more than one vehicle or float should arrive at the same time in order to stay together in the line-up.

“Each participant will need to communicate their parade departure plan to their entry participants. Please make sure that all involved with your float know your departure plan,” the release stated. “If you choose to unload your participants at Central Office, an adult representative from your entry must be present and responsible for all parties until pick up from that location is complete. We recommend sharing a phone number for the responsible party with each participant's designated pick up person.”

To register for the parade, visit bolivarchamber.com/parade. For more information about the Christmas parade, contact Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce at 417-326-4118 or info@bolivarchamber.com.

Light the Park 2022 is in full swing

The Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce kicked off its annual Light the Park event on Friday, Nov. 25. Local residents are invited to drive through the Dunnegan Memorial Park to take a look at all of the Christmas light displays representing various businesses and organizations in the Bolivar community.

Light the Park is open from 6 to 9 p.m. every evening through Friday, Dec. 30.

According to a recent press release from Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce, Light the Park is a free drive-thru event, but drivers are welcome to donate to not-for-profit organizations at the entrance of the display show each night.

“In 2021, nearly $17,000 was raised for the participating organizations,” says Daniel Leith, chairman of the chamber’s Light the Park, in the release. “Light the Park is a wonderful Christmas tradition in Bolivar. Great fun for families and a financial benefit for our charities, the event also is a strong economic boost for the community bringing carloads of families through Bolivar during the holidays who also eat and shop while in town.”

The following list features this week’s donation collectors and the organizations that will benefit from the donations:

  • Saturday, Dec. 3: Walmart for Shop with a Cop
  • Sunday, Dec. 4: Knight of Columbus – Santa will be here
  • Monday, Dec. 5: The Bank of Missouri for Hope’s Safe Haven
  • Tuesday, Dec. 6: Open Hearts United Methodist Church
  • Wednesday, Dec. 7: BHS Air Force JROTC
  • Thursday, Dec. 8: Wommack Monument for Community Outreach Ministries
  • Friday, Dec. 9: Polk County 4H
  • Saturday, Dec. 10: Craig Lehman's Shelter Insurance for BHS Athletic Booster Club

For a full schedule of the participating organizations and charities, visit bolivarchamber.com or find updates on the Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page. Questions about Light the Park can be directed to the Chamber by phone at 417-326-4118 or by email at info@bolivarchamber.com.

42nd Annual Festival of Christmas to be held at SBU

Southwest Baptist University and Community Outreach Ministries (COM) are teaming up to present the 42nd annual Festival of Christmas starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4.

Area residents are welcome to attend the free event, which will be located at Pike Auditorium on the SBU campus in Bolivar.

A recent press release said that this holiday program will be a time for local churches to come together to celebrate the Christmas season.

Attendees will enjoy Christmas music “by the Festival Choir, Flute Ensemble, SBU Wind Symphony, and Chamber Orchestra,” the release stated.

“The Festival of Christmas is a highlight of the Advent season,” said President Rick Melson in the release. “It is a joy to gather and celebrate the birth of the Messiah. We are eager to welcome the residents of Bolivar and surrounding communities to campus for this special night.”

An offering will be collected by COM to fund the Polk County Food Pantry, which provides foods and other necessities to families and individuals in the local community. According to the release, Polk County Food Pantry “serves approximately 400 families representing 1,000 individuals each month.”

To learn more about the Festival of Christmas, call 417-328-1644.

Christmas at Fellowship Park

Bolivar First Baptist Church will be hosting a Christmas at Fellowship Park event to welcome local residents to the grand opening of their new community park at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, taking place after the parade.

In a press release from the church, Fellowship Park is identified as the area east of the main church building located at the corner of Springfield Avenue and Locust Street.

“Many people will refer to it as the former white house lawn,” event organizer Cheri Jones says in the release. “Although we were sad to see the original white house deteriorate beyond repair, Fellowship Park extends the white house tradition of welcoming all to church and community events to be held here.”

The Christmas at Fellowship Park event will feature a live nativity, presented by the Bolivar Open Hearts United Methodist Church; free hot dogs, hot chocolate, and cookies; special appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus; children’s activities and a reading about the story of Jesus’ birth; and a Christmas concert by bluegrass band Lindley Creek.

“Many people will be in Bolivar for the parade and our church thought this would be a perfect time to invite families to continue celebrating and come see the new park,” states Jones in the release. “There is no charge for anything at the event and there will be something for all ages. And, we want to emphasize that this event is being made possible by many, many volunteers and other groups beyond First Baptist Church. The church is just hosting, but it’s really about community.”

For more information about Christmas at Fellowship Park, contact First Baptist Church at 417-326-2431 and check for updates on the First Baptist Church Facebook page.