Gonzales — With boots polished and hats atilt, the members of The Rock Church in St. Amant will greet the community in the holiday spirit Dec. 4-6 for the fourth annual Cowboy Christmas.
The Rev. Blake Melancon, inspired by a similar event while ministering in El Paso, Texas, is passionate about giving the community a 19th century-styled Western Christmas. Now, Cowboy Christmas is a reality, which involves three months’ worth of preparation each year, Melancon said.
“We really want to give people an old-fashioned Christmas,” Melancon said.
The event comes together with the help of church volunteers and countless hours of work and planning.
Throughout most of the year, a group of buildings on church property are used for Sunday school. In December, the volunteers turn the classrooms into a Western-style town, complete with a bakery, blacksmith’s shop, hotel and jailhouse.
In each room, church members dressed in period costume will narrate parts of the Christmas story.
Approximately 60 church members are participating in this year’s event, Melancon said.
“There’s people that get excited about it — there’s an anticipation,” Melancon said, regarding the church’s production.
When visitors come, they will be greeted at the welcome center. Games will be provided as each tour waits its turn. Each tour is packed with activities, he said.
In addition to the sketches, there will be a petting zoo, gospel music show, nativity scene and bonfire.
Everything is meant to be a reminder of the past and the true meaning of Christmas, Melancon said.
“This is a non-commercialized Christmas. When people get here, they step into relief,” Melancon said.
A new character is being introduced to the program this year, said Tony Alise, the church’s outreach director and Cowboy Christmas coordinator.
“We have Dakota Dave, a new cowboy,” Alise said. Dakota Dave will be at the bonfire, where he will hear the Gospel story as the audience looks on, Alise said. At the bonfire, Melancon hopes that guests will be impressed with the relevance of the Christmas story, Melancon said.
“Christmas is a time for gifts and giving, but the greatest gift is to receive,” Alise said. “Hopefully, people will leave different than when they came,” Melancon said.
Organizers said they hopes to reach the community in a better way.
“We’re doing the same thing we’ve done for years — that’s spreading the gospel,” Alise said.
For more information, visit visittherock.com.