PALMYRA, Mo. -- The Palmyra Chamber of Commerce will host its annual "Christmas in Palmyra" event Saturday at the Marion County Courthouse in Palmyra.
One top attraction will be a live auction of donated Christmas wreaths, decorations and gift baskets starting at 11 a.m. with the aim of raising money to benefit community projects.
But an even more popular attraction will immediately follow the auction -- the public's chance to win cash door prizes totaling $1,000.
Caitlin Smyser, chairman of the event, said the chamber will be giving away one $300 prize, one $200 prize and five $100 prizes.
The cash giveaway invariably draws a large crowd, especially because winners of the drawings must be present to claim their prizes.
"The courthouse is normally packed," Smyser said. "There will be standing room only by the end of the day."?Smyser said she enjoys seeing the reactions of people as they win.
"It's really a humbling feeling when you see someone win some of that money who can really use the money for whatever it might be," she said.
Participants must be at least 18 to be eligible for a cash prize. Every adult will be given one free ticket for the drawing when they come in the door. People can earn up to two extra tickets by bringing a nonperishable item for the Palmyra food pantry and by purchasing an item during the auction.
The auction is a primary fundraising event for the Chamber of Commerce, which, in turn, gives much of that money back to the community for scholarships and various other charitable causes.
"We donate a lot of money to a lot of different organizations and things throughout the year," said Smyser, a member of the chamber's Board of Directors who is chairing "Christmas in Palmyra" for the first time this year. The event's co-chairman is Heather McChristian.
The chamber's fundraising efforts are supported by local businesses and organizations that donate wreaths, Christmas trees, decorations and gift baskets to be sold at the "Christmas in Palmyra" auction, according to Susan Berti, administrative assistant for the Chamber of Commerce.
"We even get refreshments donated" for the event, Berti said, noting how complimentary coffee and doughnuts will be available at the courthouse starting at 10 a.m. when the doors open.
Those arriving early will get a chance to vote on a "People's Choice Award" for their favorite basket, wreath or decoration slated to go on the auction block. The winner will be announced before the auction begins at 11 a.m. and will have "bragging rights" until next year's event, Smyser said.
Berti and Smyser agree that "Christmas in Palmyra" is a fun way to help generate Christmas spirit in the community. Not only will the courthouse will be decked out in holiday decorations by then, but "Main Street, of course, is all lit up with Christmas lights," Smyser said.
Berti said the courthouse "is absolutely beautiful" for the event, and she loves the blue Christmas lights that the city of Palmyra hangs along the downtown streets this time of year, casting the city in a warm, festive glow.
"Those lights are gorgeous," she said.
Also adding to the holiday fun downtown is a weekly opportunity to ride on a firetruck with Santa Claus from 1 to 2 p.m. each Saturday from now through Dec. 21, including the Saturday of "Christmas in Palmyra."
All participants in this longtime Palmyra tradition are asked to bring a donation for the food pantry when riding with Santa.