Thoughts & Images from Andy Sharp

2014 Weir Christmas Parade
2014 Immanuel Nativity
2014 Blue Santa
Union Station
2014 Christmas Stroll
2014 Advent Service
2014 Lighting of the Square
2014 Turkey Trot
Autumn in Taylor
Birds & Sky

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A Tiny Texas Parade

Weir, Texas is a very small town.   Its population for many years has hovered around 500 people.  There is a blinking yellow traffic light though.    Its smallness does not stop the town from having their very own Christmas Parade, held each December for the past 28 years.    Throughout that time, Weir Mayor Mervin Walker, shown getting things going at this year’s parade, has been leading the charge.   One of the really nifty things I like about this event is how folks show up with their antique tractors.  Ken Teinert, a Weir resident, again showed up with his 1951 John Deere, allowing granddaughter Abbie Leonard, 9, to take the reins, with grandpa right there to keep her on course.   2-year-old Calvin Schaefer was one of the happy children on hand to watch the action with his family.  And let’s not forget parade participant Becky Bourtzos, getting a kiss from her pug called Pearl!    Small-town Texas is just dang cool.    These photos were taken for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

Nativity Scenes in Taylor & Georgetown

Live nativity scenes, when done well, are  works of art.   One that I particularly enjoy each Christmas season is the undertaking at Taylor’s Immanuel Lutheran Church, seen in the first eight images in this post.   Immanuel Lutheran, a beautiful old church over 100 years old, sits on a hilltop, adding a visual treat to passersby.  The live nativity at Immanuel is actually the work of a coalition of churches throughout Williamson County.    The last four photos are from Georgetown’s San Gabriel Presbyterian Church.   San Gabriel’s is not as extensive as its Taylor neighbor, but they have what many churches do not …. a camel!   This year, the camel, who I’m told is called Cecil, was a few minutes late on his journey from the Fort Worth area.   But there he was, behaving nicely, thank you very much.  This little package of holiday photos was created for the Williamson County Sun.

Blue Santa Makes the Holiday Brighter

The holiday season can be a time for happiness, but each year children and their families might not find things so merry.   Many are hurting.   Just getting by can be a daunting task.   As Christmas approaches, parents may wonder how they’ll provide for their loved ones.   In Georgetown, Texas, we have the Blue Santa program, administered by the Georgetown Police Department.     Through Blue Santa, qualified families in need  are able to provide not only the basics, but also gifts for every family member.   On a very busy Saturday, I was on hand for the distribution to these families.    Dozens of volunteers were there to distribute the large number of gift boxes.    Sometimes, as an event unfolds, a moment, call it an epiphany, approaches my camera.   That happened Saturday, as 2-year-old Jaelynn Benitz, the fourth image in this post,  waited with her mother as the hustle and bustle flowed all around her.    Those  little eyes spoke volumes.   These are among the photos I took for the Williamson County Sun.

A Step Back In Time

When I visited Texarakana’s Union Station in 1975, the once-majestic train depot straddling the Texas-Arkansas line, brought  to life in 1929,  appeared to have become the property of the pigeons.   Even today, I vividly recall Easter 1958.   Miss Bertha White’s first-grade class arrived here for a 19-mile train ride to Ashdown, Arkansas, where we’d step off the train to get a free, colored (and I do mean colored, as in food coloring) Easter chick to take home.   I wonder the fate of those chicks.  For my family, it was a no-brainer since we raised chickens.   My little critter became part of the Sharp family hen house.  Fast-forward to the mid-70s day when these photos were taken.   I have no idea how long the old depot had suffered  the ravages of disuse.   Amazingly, there was the complete absence of “No Trespassing” signs.  Even more interesting was the fact that I found open doors — to a very empty, somewhat spooky space.   Outside, on the tracks, a couple of fellows, probably rail-riders, were the only souls around.  What caught my eye as much as anything was how time literally seemed to have stopped, on the clock above baggage claim,  and on the big clock  outside.  I wonder about Union Station today.  It would be nice if someone could bring life back inside its walls, in some form.   It seems a shame to let it waste away.

A Christmas Stroll Through Georgetown

This year’s Christmas Stroll in Georgetown was another very well-attended affair.    Arriving an hour early on Saturday, I still had to troll around a bit before finally landing a parking spot.   Once on the scene, all was well.  The weather, a little chilly for the morning parade, moderated nicely throughout the day.   Compared to last year’s temperatures in the 20s, this was paradise.   The city indicated this year’s parade would be smaller, but it sure looked packed to me.   After its absence from last year’s Stroll, the popular Bethlehem Village, hosted by Georgetown Church of Nazarene, was back in place.   NewChurch Georgetown was back for another year with their Whoo Village, complete with the Grinch and offerings of stylish Whoo hairstyles.   Getting her Whoo hair done, 4-year-old Jordan Salyers, casting a menacing look at my camera lens, proclaimed “I don’t like having my picture taken!”   That said, she seem quite pleased with the end result she viewed in the mirror.   The courthouse lawn was a lively place, too, filled with colorful hula hoops provided by Circle of Play.   And Madison Tally, at the grand age of one year, looked a little like a human Christmas tree as she danced around the square in her colorful outfit.   This event is a lot of work, but much fun.  These photos were taken for the Williamson County Sun.

The Season of Advent

Each year about this time, Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas, becomes magical when their Lois Perkins Chapel  is filled with the soft light created by  hundreds of candles at  their annual Candlelight Service celebrating the Season of Advent.   The first year I attended this for the Williamson County Sun, I asked a person in charge if there was anything they didn’t want me to do.   The lady quickly said “No flash photography.”   Not wanting to be obtuse,  I smiled and said, “Of course.”   Sometimes, it’s not worth explaining to someone that a flash won’t carry very far in a huge chapel, anyway.  With so much natural light, there is no need to detract in any way.   At any rate, this year’s service was, as usual, beautiful and moving as hundreds joined together singing “Silent Night” and others.    One little lady that particularly charmed me was 4-year-old Gaia Crenshaw, pictured in the opening photo (and several more times here).  She was enchanted by all the lovely light.  Freya, her 5-month-old sister, is shown with their mom, Molly.  Also along was daddy, Marshal Crenshaw.   Both mom and dad are Southwestern graduates.   At events like this, it’s not uncommon for my visual attentions to focus on the children.   They’re always amazing.

The Season Begins

Georgetown’s elegant and beautiful square was the setting for last night’s annual Lighting of the Square.   In the few years we’ve been back in Texas, this lovely happening seems to draw more each time around.   While the adults enjoy the evening, the children find it to be just heavenly, thank you very much.   The delight in the kids’ eyes when Christmas carols are sung is touching.   Once the officialdom is done, parents and children alike find their way to the glistening tree on the courthouse lawn.   Please enjoy the season.   If life’s problems are difficult, take a wee bit of time to be unburdened.   These photos are for the Williamson County Sun.

Staying Fit On Thanksgiving Day

The Georgetown Running Club and Sertoma Club, both in Georgetown, held their 2nd Annual Turkey Trot early this morning, starting this year on the Georgetown square.  In only its second year, the race is really a big hit, with approximately 800 participants taking part in runs and walks, including a kids fun run as well as 1-mile and 5-mile events.   I seem destined to cover running events on Thanksgiving day.  During my years working at the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, I was always there to cover the Atlanta Marathon and Half-Marathon.    Getting up early doesn’t seem to be a problem for something that’s so much fun for participants and spectators alike.   One little athlete  I particularly loved was a chihuahua named Enrique, who ran 5 miles on his tough little legs!  Here are a few photos I shot for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

Autumn Color In Central Texas

Although the colors were generally more vibrant when we lived in the eastern United States, we’re not without a breath of Autumn in South Central Texas.   Being a warmer climate, the colors arrive a bit later.   As we approach December, our palette is just beginning to fill in.   Included in this post are a few photos from Georgetown, Texas, as well as my little town, Taylor, a few miles east.   The first eight photos are Taylor, the rest Georgetown.   I shot the Taylor photos today, incorporating the remnants of recent rains in them.    Hopefully, you’ll find something that brightens your world.   As is often the case, I’ve incorporated a bird (a Great White egret) into one of the photos.

A Pleasant Night for Birds (And Humans)

This is one of my “therapy” wanderings.   On the way home from the library tonight, the skies did their usual nice thing for my psyche.    I pulled over near Murphy Park to watch the skies and avian creatures coincide.