1961 Berenice Denton & Barbara Fridrich
“Barbara Fridrich and I called on prospective customers to convince them of our idea of Christmas Village. At that time there were no shopping centers, malls, etc. Our idea was hard to present. We were both pregnant at the time, and we had many stores tell us that if we would just leave they would be in our show, as they didn’t want the babies to be born in their shop! We certainly used this to the best of our ability! Our “Christmas Village” babies were born just before the first Christmas Village in November.” - Berenice Benton
1964 Linda Dale & Hennie Morris
“Linda & I were close friends through Harpeth Hall and Vanderbilt and I would not have taken on Chirstmas Village without her. She had a family connection with Martha White Flour which gave her an in with the country music stars. Minnie Pearl was our honorary chairman and Brenda Lee performed. I had a family connection with a bank and consequently was in charge of the money for Christmas Village for 9 yrs. Our year took place at the Hippodrome! Bobby Dale nicknamed us "the twitchers" for pulling off the job and refers to us in that way today! During our year, I remember having a sick two year old and being in the early stages of pregnancy with my second child. I was on the phone all the time! We had a great time, had no disagreements and have been devoted friends ever since!” - Hennie Morris
1970 Nancy Fawn Diehl & Judy Simmons
“A snowstorm hit during our year and since there were very little concession stands at that time, our 300 boxed lunches never arrived. We later delivered many lunches to the Union Mission and got wonderful PR. The Revlon booth, selling 25-cent lipsticks, had long lines but happy customers. At the time, wearing heels and dresses was in – hard on the feet, but very much in style. Blondy Stevens and team decorated gorgeous Christmas trees and a beautiful stage for the entertainment. Children from the Bill Wilkerson Center were crowned king and queen. The queen looked like a little Pi Phi angel with a gold halo. “
September 1976, Mayor Richard Fulton (with Linda McDavitt, Sally Rodgers, Laura Bouldin) declares "Christmas Village Week"
1975 Suzanne Webb Brunson & Robin Owne
"It was the end of 1974 when Robin Owen and I had been asked to chair the 1975 Christmas Village. New Year’s day, 1975, I said, "You know, I really think I might be pregnant" which of course I was. Meanwhile, Robin called me the week before my son was born and she quietly said, "I'm holding my newborn baby daughter." C.A. Edwards, alum club president, announced the arrival of her first child, in August. The three of us followed what had become a Christmas Village tradition of being pregnant while chairing this event.
Robin would frequently send me out on an "asking mission" since I was extemely pregnant... "How could they say no?" Our tactic worked because country music DJ, Ralph Emery, agreed to be our honorary chairman that year and Lynn Anderson was our entertainment. Thanks to C.A. Edwards, Barbara Mandrell appeared in the cooking sequence of the noon show. We were extatic!
We learned that barrowing shopping carts from the local grocery chain was not as helpful as we thought. Our husbands walked the dark parking lots to find all of them after the Village closed. We were most proud that we had polled merchants and instigated adding an additional day for the 1976 Village. Extra day; extra money!" - Suzanne Webb Brunson
1981 Deb Durrett & Elizabeth Greathouse
“It’s a wonderful time for Christmas Village to celebrate fifty years. It’s a sad time for me without Elizabeth. Our contribution to Christmas Village was the addition of Sneak-A-Peak. We thought of it as our preview party. It has continued to be a vital part of the Village.” – Deb Durrett
1985 Barbie Bachmann & Christy Robinson
“1985 marked the 25th anniversary of Christmas Village. Actress and Pi Phi, Patricia Neal, served as honorary chairman. We celebrated the Village’s 25th anniversary by doing what we do best – fundraising! We chartered Opryland’s brand new riverboat, the General Jackson, for a wonderful evening of cruising, dinner and dancing. This event raised the initial seed money for the brainchild of Suzanne Allen – a center to provide outpatient treatment for traumatic brain injuries. Later to be named the Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute, the center began accepting patients in January, 1988.“
Honorary Chairman, Amy Grant with Melissa Paty and Laura Bouldin, 1989
1989 Laura Bouldin and Melissa Paty
“What a great Christmas Village we shared in 1989! Unlike previous co-chairs, Melissa worked full time so the workload was divided to accommodate work hours – meaning we met more often than not on Saturday mornings! However, a lifelong friendship was created throughout those many, many week-ends.
The Tennessean cancelled our program that year and we had to come up with one in October. Ambrose Printing helped us design a double fold program with color pictures, including one with Amy Grant and the Mama Lere Angels. The colors were majestic.
With blessings on our side, the incredibly popular vocal artist, Amy Grant, agreed to be the honorary chairman for Christmas Village. She was so gracious – she agreed to a professional photo session at CA Edwards’ home where various Pi Phi's and Mama Lere students were captured with a vibrant, and very pregnant, Amy. Later, Amy made a visit to the Bill Wilkerson Hearing and Speech Center on 19th Avenue. One of the highlights was the isoberic chamber in the building. Amy also, brough hundreds of black and white glossies to the Village and happily signed autographs for the masses.
When we walked outside to see the line of people waiting to get into the Village at the Friday morning ribbon cutting, we were absolutely breathless. The sheer numbers were overwhelming. Following the ribbon cutting with Amy Grant and the Mama Lere Christmas Angels, we drove down 4th Avenue to Merchants Restaurant for lunch with Amy.
Historically, a number of Village Co-Chairs were either pregnant or became pregnant during their Village. After a number of years of no pregnancies, Melissa found out she was pregnant on the Sunday of our Village!
We enjoyed full coverage in the Arrow with pictures and two articles that year.”
American General Building, November 5, 1989
1991 Peggy Lawrence & Valeria Ball
"1991 was a big year for Christmas Village. Having just completed its 30th year, Christmas Village was in serious need of reconstructive surgery, inside and out! Barbara Fridrich was called back to the table to affect the change, and she brought Valeria and I in to be co-chairs. I remember the day well that she called me and asked that I be a co-chair – I was surprised and honored, and her position as Chairman of the Board was instrumental in convincing me to take up the challenge.
Some of the changes we made that year for merchants were to implemented both the merchant evaluation and merchant relations initiatives. We created merchant rules and regulations- much to our surprise the merchants really appreciated it, and the event became much more manageable for us. At the same time, we formed a merchant relations committee in an efforts to show the mercahnts that we did, indeed, appreciate their participation. We also started using the red curtains and carpets for the merchant booths.
Other ways we gave the Village a facelift was by enlisting Norris Hall to design a fabulous and fun entrance scene, which we stored and reused for several years. We introduced the Christmas Village t-shirt concept in order to create visual excitement at the Village and make our volunteers stand out. Norris Hall designed the shirts with the, “Shop ’til you drop” theme. It is still my favorite! The Christmas Village brand was refreshed with an updated logo designed by DVL and we expanded our advertising reach and visability with some new outlets, such as the addtion of bus stops benches and utility pole flags.
We also hired CE South as exhibitor, which was later bought by the company we use today. This was a huge step in taking us to a new level of professionalism. We moved the ticket money management to a quiet, secure environment which opened space in the office for our volunteer hospitality room. Now the volunteers would have a place to gather, eat and enjoy each others company. We then creating the Christmas Village Café in the Vaughan Building to upgrade the concession experience for our patrons and we brought new blood onto the board by getting Ann McKinney and Lisa Robbins involved.
Christmas Village is a rare phenomenon, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to impact its viability in the Nashville community, and for the impact it has had on my life and relationships. I forged and reinforced many Pi Phi friendships through that experience that I still hold dear and would not have had otherwise. Oh, and I too kept up the Christmas Village Co-Chair tradition by being pregnant." - Peggy Lawrence
1993 Ann Mckinney & Kathy Nevill
“The year Ann McKinney and I co-chaired the Village a "hurricane" (or what seemed like one) was centered over the city causing quite a bit of problems. At one point the poles in the awning between the creative arts and agriculture building were flying in the tunnel attacking shoppers!” – Kathy Nevill
1963 Mary Jane Evers & Ellen Dillon
“Christmas Village was at the Hippodrome Skating Rink. Alum club members brought lights from home to decorate a few trees and it was quite festive. Brenda Lee was our honorary chairman. She was very generous with her time and talent. The sound system failed but she had her man come and fixed it and we hired him to stay on with us moving forward. In the car on the way home I heard of President Kennedy’s death. A sober ending to an exciting and productive Christmas Village.”
Monk Baird hanging posters in 1964
1969 Sis Halliday & Carolyn Gustafson
“We borrowed grocery carts from the Giant Foods grocery in 100 Oaks. We had to scour the parking lot for most of them when the Village was over but returned them all. We also had the involvement of 4-H Clubs in neighboring towns. Loretta Lynn made a short film (no videos then) about the Bill Wilkerson Center and we took it to several nearby towns to show at the 4-H Club meetings. The members came on school buses to the Village. Our Picture was in the Suburban News (forerunner of Green Hills News) with Gov. Buford Ellington as he signed a proclamation for Christmas Village Week. We had lunch boxes that had a base coat of red paint decorated with angels and the words “Christmas Village” These did not sell well.”
1973 C.A. Edwards & Ann Marie McNamara
"We had two buildings instead of one this year with 92 merchant booths. Our honorary chairman was Archie Campbell and we had performances by Jim Ed Brown and Tammy Wynette and George Jones. We offered a door prize of $1,000 Series E Savings Bond and ticket prices were only $1.00!"
1979 Candy Snedeker & Ramsey Doran
“Candy Snedeker and I chaired the 1979 Christmas Village. Candy had terrific contacts and was able to get T.G. Sheppard as our honorary chairman. He made various appearances and performed at the Village, but, most famously (in our minds), he was the face and voice for our public service announcement . (Back in those days, local stations were required to have so many minutes of public service announcements in order to keep their licenses. Ergo, it was a lot easier to get free publicity). As he talked about the vendors and beneficiaries of the Village, in the background were four elves busily working away. They were Candy, C.A. Edwards, Evy Kay Ritzen and I. I believe we elves closed the PSA by yelling Merry Christmas". I don't know what happened to those costumes but I still laugh at the memory of us in them.” - Ramsey Doran
Barbara Mandrell, Honorary Chairman 1977 with Laura Bouldin
1982 Beverly Ammarell & Linda Higgins
"This was a year of firsts. We decided to change the Village days to Thursday - Sunday instead of Friday - Monday. We instituted the Christmas Village advertising tabloid insert in the Tennessean newspaper and this was also the first year we printed bumper stickers.
Some of the other changes we implemented this year was to send out Patron letters asking for straight donations instead of asking for corporate ticket purchases. (This was a big deal and required the club to vote to change the Christmas Village by-laws.). We raised the ticket prices to $2.00 with no pre-selling discount. I think S-A-P tickets were $7.50 at the time. We also had 5 special event seminars, for example --"Holiday Decorating" and "Using Computers in the Home" -- who would have guessed we were on the cutting edge with the computer event? I don't think any of these seminars (at $2 each) drew a crowd, but we did get extra publicity talking about them.
I think our Village was the last one prior to obtaining the Christmas Village Trust, our 501c 3 tax exempt status and establishing the formal Christmas Village Board.
I do remember with fondness the fun I had chairing the Village with Linda and the work of our excellent committee members and Pi Phi Sisters! It was an honor and a privilege to serve as chairman and I remember being so thankful to and amazed by the success of the previous Christmas Village chairmen. It really is special that we were part of the 50 plus years of Christmas Village History!"
- Beverly Ammarell
1987 Liz Anne Allen & Nancy Trice
“Nancy and I had never met until we were asked to chair the Village. That year started a lifetime of friendship between us. Floyd Cramer was our honorary chairman that year and we took him on a personal tour of the Bill Wilkerson Center. We had a great year and a lot of fun working together.” -Liz Anne Allen
The Bill Wilkerson Center “Evening of Special Recognition.” May 1990, Laura Bouldin, Melissa Paty, Senator Al Gore, Beth Spoden, Nancy Hart Harvey.
1990 Nancy Hart Harvey (niece of Bill Wilkerson) & Beth Spoden Preston
The 30th anniversary Christmas Village was a proud year for Pi Beta Phi. First and foremost, by the 30th year, the reputation of our event had spread far and wide. Five buildings were packed with vendors eagerly awaiting the crowds who came each year to welcome the unofficial beginning of the holiday season. This was the year that Pi Beta Phi crested the $1,000,000 mark in funds raised for the Bill Wilkerson Hearing and Speech Center. Our Village alone raised over $100,000.
One highlight of our year was the visit of our honorary chair, Ann Hills, a Pi Beta Phi alum from California, accompanied by her hearing ear dog, Roody. It was a pleasure to escort her around the Village and have folks learn about service dogs. Another special feature of our Village was the celebrity ornament tree. Many worked hard to enable us to silently auction off ornaments signed by Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Barbara Mandrell, Amy Grant, Al Gore and about 150 other high profile people. A long-standing, very popular vendor, The Attic, donated many of the ornaments, as did some other booths, which allowed us to maximize the funds raised. There are some lucky folks out there who still hang their Celebrity ornament on their tree each year.
As is probably true for every year, the weekend flew by, many friendships were formed, and once again Pi Beta Phi was able to contribute a significant amount of money to help improve the lives of children and adults helped by the Bill Wilkerson Center and Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Center.
1992 Cassie Edenton and Shanon Kusch
“Shanon Kusch and I co-chaired the 32nd Christmas Village in 1992. The most memorable thing in my mind was that the Fairgrounds were without a concessions contract. We had no one providing food of any sort. We were in a dilemma, and then we remembered that Pi Phi, Lisa Robbins’ husband, Mark, owned a restaurant, Granite Falls. We asked him if we would be willing to have a presence in the form of a Café at the Village. He was excited and said “yes”. The Christmas Village Café was born in the back of the Vaughan Building. Mark sold lots of sandwiches, salads and soups those four days and we were ever so grateful to him and to Lisa.
This was the year we added the walkway from the creative Arts Building to the Agricultural Building. Before then there was only one way to get to the three other buildings and that was through Banquet Hall walkway.” - Cassie Edenton
1995 Simone Acha and Maggie Lucy
“1995 marked the first annual Pi Phi ‘Cookie Shine’ as our Board thank you event. We hosted this at the Tennessee Beta Pi Phi house while Dene Donald was the reigning housemother. We all gathered on the floor of the Chapter room, ate lots of cookies, candies and played games. we all had a lot of fun."–Maggie Lucy
1997 Leslie Walker & Kimberly Crowe
“This was the year that the fire marshal came to the show and threatened to shut us down at a peak time if we didn’t remove the entire Norris Hall painted wooden display that had graced the entrance for a number of years. Thankfully our board chair, Kathy Nevill, was able to talk him down until we could get the display removed."
1998 Gail Zika and Suzanne Allen
“1998 was a great year to chair Christmas Village. Thanks to all of the committee chairs everything during the Village went smoothly. We were a little nervous when the Tennessean tried to back out at the last minute and leave us without printed publicity. But persistence paid off and promises were kept. For all of you chocolate covered cherry lovers, the booth with all of the cherry products was admitted that year and remains a favorite today. We made so many new Pi Phi friends and we truly are "best friends forever".”
Lucinda Trabue, Grand Council Member Jane Ernest, C A Edwards, Amy Grant, Honorary Chairman 1989, Grand Council Member, Carol Warren, Melissa Paty and Laura Bouldin
2003 Beth Parrish & Claudia Padfield
“My first experience with Christmas village was in the early 1960's when I attended as a child with my mother. It was held at the Hippodrome. I was very young and don't remember a lot, but I do remember it was special and fun!
Little did I know at that time just how special Christmas Village would become in my life. I have served for many years as a volunteer and on the board of Christmas Village.
In 2003, I had the great honor of co-chairing the 43rd Christmas Village with my dear friend Claudia Padfield. When we agreed to co-chair the Village, we wanted to really celebrate our volunteers and have fun while we raised a lot of money for our philanthropies. I believe we accomplished our goals! It was such a fun weekend from beginning to end. The board was fantastic and really worked together as a team. It was such a positive environment! Claudia and I hated to see it end at the closing of the weekend. Each year we have new experiences at Christmas Village, but the one thing that remains constant is the dedication of our club members to carry on this wonderful event.
I am proud to be a member of The Nashville Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club and grateful to be a part of the history of Christmas Village. “
– Beth Parrish
2006 Katie Hedge and Dawn Watson
“Katie Hedge and I co-chaired in 2006. We were two Texas girls, both Pi Phis at Baylor and were new to both Nashville and Christmas Village. We both had been on the board for all of one year when we were asked to chair. Our year was "The Year of the Greyhound" and the goes... My mom and dad were here from Houston taking care of the boys while I lived at the fairgrounds for the weekend. They came to SAP and had a great time. After they had been shopping for some time, my mom came up to the information booth and said they thought it was nice that we had an adopt a greyhounds booth. I informed her that we did not have a booth for that. Yvonne Ayers and I went to investigate. It turned out that Wild Birds Unlimited in building 6 had several large greyhounds for pets that they had brought with them to the show. They were keeping them behind their booth, inside, in the storage area. The situation was so absurd that we could not quit laughing. We now state in our merchant regulations that no pets are allowed in the booths...ie. the Greyhound Clause“ –Dawn Watson