Greenleaf Cemetery is preparing for its third Holiday Trail of Lights, a four-evening event that beckons visitors to drive through the cemetery and enjoy Christmas illuminatio as well as a first — a nativity scene.
While there is no entry fee, the event is one of the cemetery’s major fundraisers and donations are appreciated, Greenleaf Cemetery Association president Steve Harris said.
The Holiday Trail of Lights will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.:
• Friday, Dec. 20
• Saturday, Dec. 21
• Sunday, Dec. 22
• Monday, Dec. 23
“It’s just continuously grown,” Harris said. “This year we have quite a few sponsors. We’ve doubled the light capacity thanks to sponsors, and a big, big thing is, we don’t know that this cemetery ever had a nativity scene set up for Christmas. This year will be the first that we know of.
“Thanks to our sponsors we were able to purchase a nativity scene — the beginning stages. For people who came the first two years, there will be a notable difference from the first two years but it’s still done in a peaceful, respectful way. We’ll have solar lights to illuminate a lot of the tombstones along the trail like we did our first year. We’ve wrapped double the trees we had last year in white lights. We’ve added some spotlights. We’ve added a nativity scene. We’ve added a blue star in a tree.”
Harris said the association has wanted a nativity scene but previously could not afford one. Harris said he was impressed with a nativity scene in Early, and Harris called the Early City Hall to ask where that one was obtained. Upon learning that information, cemetery association members ordered a nativity scene from the same source.
“The namesake of Early is buried here — Mr. Early,” Harris said.
The nativity scene, which is expected to arrive Friday, is basic to start off — a shelter, a couple of shepherds, the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph, Harris said. The scene will be set up so that the Brown County Water Improvement District’s decorative star — attached to a water tank on the hill behind the cemetery — is visible behind the nativity scene.
The star is illuminated at night during the Christmas season. “It’s beautiful,” Harris said.
“Basically the Christmas miracle is the fact that i(the nativity scene) is coming, and the fact that we were able to purchase it through the help of sponsorships,” Harris said. “This whole thing has been kind of a Christmas miracle. It’s literally helped saved the cemetery association.
"It’s the type of fundraiser that’s been able to put us on more secure financial ground. We’ve been super thankful to the city of Brownwood. These here are old vintage decorations the came from downtown. We’ve been really working hard to connect the revitalization of downtown Brownwood with the revitalization of the cemetery.”
Harris and cemetery association member Steve Puckett said anyone who wants to donate to increase the nativity scene in future years is welcome to do so.
“Our philosophy has always been to honor and celebrate those who are laid to rest here for Christmas, not to be forgotten," Harris said. "This is a way we can honor and celebrate their contributions to our community and remember their lives, and to do it in a very peaceful and respectful way.”
Visitors who drive through the cemetery for the Holiday Trail of Lights can hear Christmas music on KOXE Radio, Harris said.