Friendly City Homecoming Christmas Show radiates holiday cheer

Published 9:34 pm Monday, January 1, 2024

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The spirit of Christmas came alive in Luverne as the Friendly City Homecoming Christmas Show dazzled audiences at the Luverne First United Methodist Church Dei Center Dec. 15. Featuring Christmas favorites like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” and many more, the event was produced by Lisa S. Rolling and Sessa Productions and showcased performances by renowned artists Kevin Sport and Mark Narmore, intertwined with performances by talented locals. 

Sport, a successful singer/songwriter now residing in Nashville, returned to his roots to share the joy of the season. Known for being the brand partner for Conecuh Sausage and the mastermind behind their popular jingle, Sport entertained the crowd with his soulful voice. He also brought a touch of nostalgia by reminiscing about his upbringing in the area.

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“I want to thank Lisa so much for what she does each year,” Sport said. “She works so hard and puts her heart into this and I am so proud to be part of it this year.”

Mark Narmore, a distinguished songwriter hailing from Center Star, enchanted the audience with his musical prowess. Narmore’s illustrious career includes writing the hit “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” recorded by Craig Morgan. His songs have been recorded by Shenandoah, Reba McEntire, Alabama, Tracy Lawrence, Josh Turner, John Michael Montgomery and many others. His creations have appeared on seven gold or platinum albums and he was awarded a bronze star for his musical achievements which is on permanent display in the lobby of the Alabama Music Hall Of Fame. The songwriter, who still resides near the music mecca of Muscle Shoals where he grew up, expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome he received in Luverne.

“I love this town and being here,” Narmore said. “It is just like my hometown up in North Alabama and the people here are wonderful. I am honored to be here.”

The evening’s program featured a lineup of local talents, including Tina Kelley Legg, Allie Hall Griffin, Marcus Mayes, Kathy Dowdy, Samantha Lanthrip, Nataliee Lanthrip, Maggie Ballard, Arianna Catrett, Harlow Pouncey, Pynes Pouncey, Summer Waters, Landon Morgan and Lisa S. Rolling.

A special part of the evening that provided a bit of comedic relief, was when various community members, selected just prior to the event’s start in an effort to add to the uniqueness of the performance, came to the front to perform “12 Days of Christmas”.

Lisa S. Rolling, the show’s producer, expressed her gratitude and shared her joy in curating this annual celebration. Her dedication to the event was evident as she thanked sponsors like Chicken Shack for their substantial support, acknowledging the collective effort that made the show a resounding success.

“I love producing this show every Christmas,” Rolling said. “Jesus is the reason for the season and the only reason and I love the hugs and seeing the smiles of those who attend our show. I’m already planning some new surprises for next year.It will be here before we know it. Thanks to all of you that contributed in any way to help make our show a huge success this year and made it possible to put on another show where family and friends gathered and everyone was in the Christmas spirit.”

Rolling sang “Jealous of the Angels” as she does each year as an anthem for the broken-hearted who are adjusting to life without loved ones that have passed on.

The heartwarming finale of the night featured Danny Rolling reciting the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2, accentuating the true essence of the holiday season. This was followed by a collective rendition of “Christmas in Dixie,” first recorded by the iconic group Alabama, featuring all the evening’s entertainers on stage.

Crystal Alsbrooks of Luverne shared her enthusiasm about this year’s concert.

“We had the absolute best time tonight at the Friendly City Homecoming Christmas Show,” Alsbrooks said. “All of the entertainers were amazing! We are so blessed to have Lisa S. Rolling to produce this in our small town and if you’ve never been, you’re missing out.”

As the town basked in the glow of the Friendly City Homecoming Christmas Show, it became evident that the true spirit of Christmas lies in the unity, joy, and music shared among friends and neighbors.