Inaugural Holiday Read-Aloud At UMC

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg will be read aloud at the Hamptons UMC on December 23.
Tramar Pettaway. Independent/Woody Morris

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A time for family, giving, and having that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Tramar Pettaway, a 2007 graduate of Southampton High School who’s also an Off-Broadway actor and singer, and the Reverend Dr. Leslie Duroseau of the Hamptons United Methodist Church, were trying to figure out what to do for the community to celebrate the holiday season. Then Pettaway, who’s an associate member of the UMC, had the idea of a read-aloud of the classic Christmas story, Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, a young boy is awakened on Christmas Eve by the sound of a train. To his astonishment, he finds the train is waiting for him. The conductor explains the train is called the Polar Express, and is journeying to the North Pole. The boy boards the train, which is filled with many other children in their pajamas, and they travel to the North Pole to see who will
receive the first gift of Christmas.

“I had seen many events taking place in the village but never heard of anyone doing a read-aloud with The Polar Express,” Pettaway explained. Dr. Duroseau encouraged the idea, and so began the development of the special holiday event.

The Polar Express has captured the hearts of many, as has Pettaway’s idea, and the Hamptons UMC Church signed on to sponsor the event. As the event was posted, “the numbers began to rise day by day,” said Pettaway.

Along with the reading this holiday classic, those who attend will enjoy refreshments and presents for all. The first 50 children registered will also receive a very special present from a very special guest — Old Saint Nick himself, and also a visit from Frosty the Snowman. Everyone is encouraged to wear their pajamas but not required.

“The children will experience the magic of The Polar Express, the magic of Santa, and the spirit of Christmas,” said Pettaway. “And the message of the book is ‘believe.’ It was the perfect message and theme for this holiday season, with everything going in this world,” he said.

This event will take place Sunday, December 23, from 5 to 7 PM.

“This is very rewarding,” Pettaway said of the planning. He is looking forward to the event, with high hopes of bringing some holiday cheer. “Not just the children getting gifts, but you get to see the smile on everyone’s face,” he said. Music will be provided by DJ Daddy-O Entertainment, and refreshments will be served. It’s important to register children prior to the event by sending an email to [email protected] with the child’s name, age, and gender.

“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them,” reads the famed lines in Van Allsburg’s seminal work. “Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”


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