“Christmas in Orangefield” revives Christmas tradition
Bill Remke put lights on the first derrick Christmas tree in December, 1953. The first derrick was located next to his home on Highway 105 just west of Cow Bayou in Orangefield. It was on the Oscar Chesson lease and operated by the Kilmarnock Oil Co. Mr. Remke was a field manager for this company for about 14 years.
After his death, the tradition was carried on for a few years and then began to fade away.
In December, 1975, the Orangefield Lions Club made the Orangefield Derrick Christmas Tree their project and moved the lights to a derrick on the east side of the new Hwy. 105 Cow Bayou Bridge. That derrick came down during Hurricane Rita and the tradition ceased.
This year the Orangefield Cormier Museum will bring back the tradition at the “Christmas In Orangefield” festival Saturday Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. This ceremony will use a 94’ tall work over rig provided by Bobby Cormier. The rig is presently parked in front of the museum located on the east side of the Orangefield High School Campus.
Jesse Fremont, one of the original members of the old Orangefield Lions Club, placed the lights on the ‘75 Derrick and will be present along with several of the other original members. Hopefully by next Christmas the last two derricks in the Orange Oil Field will be relocated to the museum and the restoration of an old tradition be complete.
The “Christmas in Orangefield” festival will begin Friday night, Dec. 9, at the Orangefield Elementary School Gym with a Hootenanny, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Performers will be Rudicelli (Linda Granger Crawford, Wanda and Bob Lester) from Mansfield, Texas; Acoustic Fuse from Orangefield; Hearts of Compassion (Douglas and Maridee Stanley), currently doing mission work in the Vinton area; Bonita Granger Eaves from Buna; Glenn Granger from Spring; and the Carroll Benoit Band from the Mauriceville/Orange area. Music will be of country, gospel, rock and roll, Christmas and the classics genre.
Bill Clark, a well known radio announcer in the Golden Triangle, will be the Master of Ceremonies. Admission to the Hootenanny will be $5 for adults and $3 for students. Refreshments will be sold, including gumbo made by Betty Chandler.
The Christmas parade will start on Saturday at 9 a.m. Parade entries should meet at First Baptist Church at 8 a.m. The parade route will be down Hwy. 105 to the red light on Sandbar Road. It will then move north past the football field and turn right going behind the school to the festival location in front of the Orangefield Cormier Museum.
After parade, all food booths will be open with many different types of food, crafts, artists and much more available.
The FFA will sponsor Uncle Jesse’s Farm, which is a great way for the children of the community to learn where eggs, milk, bacon, and the rest of a good healthy diet really comes from. There will also be pony rides and face painting.
The museum will be open for tours all day and Christmas music will be played all day.
Other activities include: 10 a.m. – Demonstration by Tiger Martial Arts of Bridge City; 10:30 a.m. – Rose Thayer Dance Studio; 11 a.m. – Band H.D. (Doug) Burch and the Texas Skyliners; noon – lunch and music; 12:30 p.m. – Civil War group will give a demonstrations and performance; 1 p.m. – Civil War demo will continue; and 5 p.m. – County Judge Carl Thibodeaux will read a “Cajun Night before Christmas.” The Derrick Christmas Tree will be lit.
There is no admission charge for Saturday’s festivities.