For 23 years, Dr. James Spinnati has made it his goal to provide a great Christmas show at absolutely no cost to the community. Somehow, despite a dwindling list of donors, and no money at the gate, he has again scheduled a talent lineup not seen at any other event in the Scioto County area.
“That’s one thing that I’m proud of that we have had the quality up there,” Spinnati said. “It has never been just a throw it in some way outfit. It has always been high quality and that is what we want to do. Keep it that way.”
On Monday, Nov. 28, the Sonshine School of Evangelism presents the 23rd Annual Christmas Gift to Portsmouth at 7 p.m. at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.
Spinnati says there are two things people need to know about the show. First and foremost it is a family oriented program with a lot of different types of Christmas music from secular classics to those with a Christian theme. Secondly there is no preaching involved in the show.
“It’s not about preaching,” Spinnati said. “And we’re not going to lift your wallet. It has been 23 years of free. We’re having a free-out. And if you don’t understand what a free-out is, you need to come, because nobody is going to grab a hold of you and try to twist your arm for a dollar. We don’t want your dollar. We want you to come and enjoy the evening. Bring your kids because it’s going to be a great time of fun.”
Again, as in years past, the trio of Art Bush, Jeff Bush and Tracy Tooley will highlight the evening’s entertainment lineup which will include other regulars such as the piano artistry of Steve Foster, Bryan Goins and River Road, who bring a bit of a bluegrass flavor to the evening.
“They’re (Bryan Goins and River Road) going to sing ‘Draggin’ the Christmas Tree,’ which is ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown,’ so we’re going to do some crazy things there,” Spinnati said. “But you need to be there because it’s going to be just great.”
Again, as in years past, the man who sets the tone for the event is master of ceremonies Danny Bentley. Bentley and his outstanding baritone voice begin the festivities and tell you the evening is going to be both entertaining and fun.
This year, Bobby Blanton is back, and while singing solos, he will also be joined on stage for a couple of duets by Jessica Evans. Also performing with be Mike and Julia Neville.
“It’s going to be lit up,” Spinnati said. “There’s going to be lights in there. People are going to be dressed fit to kill and I’m excited about it.”
Every year Spinnati hands out awards to people who have served the community and he will do the same this year, but with a new twist.
“We have never taken in any money, but this year, we want to help the kids in our area. And the way we can do it is by helping ‘Shop With A Trooper,’ the (Ohio) Highway Patrol here is trying to get this going,” Spinnati said. “We’re excited about it. We’re pertnering with them and we’re giving them an award for outstanding community service. They don’t buy just toys for kids. They buy them shoes. They buy them socks. They buy them underwear – stuff that they’re not getting at home because things are tough. They’re trying to make a difference. We need to help them get there.”
Spinnati said buckets will be set up at the end of the concert and anyone wishing to make a donation to Shop With A Trooper, can do so.
Tickets are free, but you must get them in advance at the McKinley Box Office at Shawnee State University, WNXT Radio, Ace hardware in Portsmouth and Wheelersburg, Desco Federal Credit Union, Praises Book Store, Larry Moore Trophies and Sports, Tim Horton’s, Carey’s Run Church of Christ, Quincy Church of Christ, DawgByte Productions and Computer Service and T&A Mobile in Kenova, West Virginia.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.