2017-12-07 / Front Page

City Tradition Keeps on Giving

By Brooke Constance White


Megan Weymouth's life-sized king puppets have delighted children and adults for decades at the United Congregational Church’s Christmas In Newport event. Megan Weymouth's life-sized king puppets have delighted children and adults for decades at the United Congregational Church’s Christmas In Newport event. The holiday season has returned to the City by the Sea with its traditional pomp and circumstance. With it comes the 47th annual Christmas in Newport celebration, featuring dozens of events and activities throughout December that will leave your spirits soaring.

Roy Lauth, co-chair of the nonprofit Christmas in Newport, which puts together the festivities each year, said attendees look forward to more than 70 signature celebrations.

“People come to Newport specifically for certain events such as the Trinity Christmas Silver Tea or the Christmas tree lighting,” said Lauth, who’s been involved with the nonprofit for 27 years. “Many locals and visitors have favorites that they attend every year and plan their time in Newport around those activities, which we love to hear.”

Making the festivities that much more meaningful is a focus on giving. Any group whose event charges an admission fee is required to donate all proceeds to a local nonprofit or charitable cause. While many of the events are free, Lauth said that thousands of dollars are given to nonprofit groups working in the community or to people in need. One example is the Nativity of Christ Puppet Show, which will donate all money collected to an individual in the community who is currently fighting cancer.

“Each group that puts on an event during Christmas in Newport gets to select what cause or nonprofit they want their proceeds to benefit,” Lauth said. “We continue this as it’s the way that the Christmas in Newport’s founder, Ruth Myers, set it up and we want to keep the tradition of giving and helping our community [keep] going.”


A 16-foot gingerbread lighthouse welcomes guests at the Visitor Center. A 16-foot gingerbread lighthouse welcomes guests at the Visitor Center. When she started Christmas in Newport in 1971, Myers had just moved to the area with her husband, Jacob, who was in the Navy. At that time, Lauth said, events bringing the community together were necessary because the Navy had pulled the fleet out of Newport. Many people were losing their jobs, as well, and widespread redevelopment was taking place while the nation as a whole was dealing with an energy crisis.

After seeing the coastal community’s colonial architecture, and learning the area’s history and rich heritage, Myers decided to build a Christmas celebration themed around the idea of recapturing the candlelit holiday of bygone days, in order to bring the community together, Lauth said. Initially, it was two weeks of events before Christmas, but after a few years it grew into a monthlong series of celebrations.


Decorative gingerbread houses are on display at the Newport Mansions. 
(Photo courtesy the Preservation Society of Newport County) Decorative gingerbread houses are on display at the Newport Mansions. (Photo courtesy the Preservation Society of Newport County) “Newport needed something that would meld the community together and that’s what we continue to do each year,” said Lauth, adding that the festivities are entirely volunteer run. “It’s grown so much and is a very large undertaking, but we couldn’t be more appreciative of each of the organizations that put on events and each of the volunteers who work so hard to make it all happen.”

Aside from bringing the community together during the holiday season, Lauth said Christmas in Newport is good for the local economy as it helps bring people to Newport during a usually quiet season. Many visitors come to town specifically for the Christmas celebrations, and while the events are entirely non-commercial, the festivities indirectly help support local businesses by bringing people to the community who can shop, eat and stay locally.

Lauth said it’s hard to pick out the most quintessential Newport event of the month-long celebration, but some of the most popular include Singing for Shelter, which raises money for local homeless shelters on Dec. 7; the numerous choral concerts during which the Christmas story is told through song; and the Christmas in Sign presentation where Christmas music is presented by special needs students through sign language on Dec. 16. He said the two Christmas tea events at St. Columba’s Chapel Parish Hall and Trinity Church are good ways to break from the season’s hustle and bustle.

As a history buff, Lauth said he always recommends the holiday lantern walking tours put on by the Newport Historical Society throughout the month. Each walk is focused on a different part of the city's history and offers the opportunity to stroll through the community and learn about its rich history.

“There’s truly an event for everyone,” Lauth said of Christmas in Newport. “[It] doesn’t matter how young or old, there are festivities and holiday cheer for all.”

(See Christmas In Newport Calendar on page 11.)

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