Saint Nick nominations needed

Published 6:41 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You better not pout; you better not cry.

You better not pout, and I’ll tell you why: Santa Claus is coming to town. In fact, Saint Nicholas will be here Dec. 1.

Every year since 1989, a Demopolis citizen has been named as Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children. Each nominee is someone who best represents the spirit of Saint Nicholas.

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The nominations for Saint Nicholas come from the people who know them.

People are asked to write a letter of nomination or an essay describing their nominee.

The nominee must be a member of the community who has portrayed the true spirit of Christmas through his or her generosity and compassion towards children throughout the year.

Nomination letters or essays should be turned in by Monday, Nov. 17, to the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce. They may be hand-delivered or mailed to the Chamber at P.O. Box 667, Demopolis, AL 36732.

Jennifer Roemen is the chair of the Saint Nicholas committee. Not only has she worked on this committee since 1994, but she was also a former Saint Nicholas herself, taking the honor in 1992.

“We had only been living here for a few years when I was nominated,” she said, “so we didn’t know a whole lot about it. When I was nominated, I was hesitant about taking the honor, and that’s how a lot of our Saint Nicholases are, by nature. They don’t want to be recognized for their work.”

The tradition of having a Saint Nicholas for Christmas on the River began in 1989, when Pat Hinson and Jim Carlson were each tapped to be Saint Nicholas. This year marks the 20th year for Saint Nicholas to be a part of the Christmas on the River festivities.

“It’s fun each year to find out who has done what in the community through these nominations,” Roemen said.

“We’re looking for somebody who volunteers their time and effort with children. That’s the whole idea, going back to the Saint Nicholas story, dealing with children and generosity and truly caring about children, especially in our community.”

People sending in nominations should write the essay to fully describe the generous deeds and acts of kindness that their nominee has done, as if they were introducing their nominee to someone from out of town, which they are.

The judges who determine the Saint Nicholas are from outside of Demopolis to ensure that they aren’t biased towards someone they know. The essays are also presented to the judges without the nominees’ names to further ensure Saint Nicholas is chosen solely on his charitable actions.

“The only thing that they will know is whatever is written in the nomination,” Roemen said.

“I want to encourage people — when they finish with their letter or essay — to stop and look at it. If you didn’t know that person, that’s all you are going to find out about them. You want to tell somebody why you think they have done something so generous. It can be a small thing, too; just highlight that. These are the people we are looking for.”

Saint Nicholas is the traditional guest of honor at all Christmas on the River functions.

They ride a special float in the day parade wearing a robe that was actually created by Roemen in 1994.

Saint Nicholas is also invited to come to the Demopolis Civic Center that Saturday night to watch the river parade.

“It’s just a way, as they are seen through all of these events, for people to thank them for what they’ve done in the community,” Roemen said. “I see it as more of an inspirational time.

“I hate to say that somebody ‘wins’ Saint Nicholas; it’s not a ‘winning’ thing. I hate that we have to pick just one, but in recognizing some of the achievements or efforts that people have put forth in the community, I hope that other people will see that it’s not so hard, it doesn’t have to be so big, you can be a normal person, and you can make a difference in the community. That’s what I see Saint Nicholas as being.”

Nominations for the 2008 Saint Nicholas are being accepted by the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce through Nov. 17. For more information, contact the Chamber at 289-0270.

Saint Nicks past:

Previous Saint Nicholases for Christmas on the River include:

1989: Pat Hinson and Jim Carlson

1990: George Franks

1991: Mike Cevasco

1992: Jennifer Roemen

1993: Bea DenBleyker and Charles Roberts

1994: Stanhope Brasfield

1995: Gus Weiss

1996: Allen Bishop

1997: Dessie Williford

1998: Mitch Tanner

1999: Peter Jones

2000: Laverne Riley

2001: Sandy Yeager (in memory)

2002: Dan Wilson

2003: Burnquetta Johnson

2004: Booker Barlow

2005: Terry Sprinkle

2006: June and Verne Humble

2007: Albert “Can Good” Thomas