The lobby of the C.L. Hoover Opera House was standing room only Friday night as the annual Hometown Holiday event drew tons of people out to explore downtown Junction City.

Co-director of the opera house Sheila Markley was unsure how many people the event would draw, but said last year the Lady Troopers served more than 800 cups of hot chocolate.

“Just everybody’s coming together in here and it’s amazing,” Markley said, over the chatter of the crowd and the singing of students from Junction City Middle School’s Astra program.

According to Markley, the crowd was typical of the event, which is a joint effort on the part of multiple local groups, from churches to businesses to local government entities.

“This whole event was was designed to promote our downtown and celebrate what is going on in Junction City,” she said.

Admission to the opera house’s portion of the event came at the cost of a donated item to the Geary County Food Pantry.

“The bigger picture is we’ve got a lot here to offer in Junction City,” Markley said. “We don’t have to go elsewhere and we just need to celebrate it, communicate and get together.”

The opera house wasn’t the only participating local business that drew a crowd Friday.

Diana Spriggs helped out with another aspect of the event, the chili feed which took place in the basement of the First Baptist Church. The chili feed and the living nativity which took place in the same building was part of a joint effort by the First Baptist Church and the First United Methodist Church, which Spriggs is a part of.

“(It’s) just to support the community,” she said.

The Dorothy Bramlage Public Library also took part in the event.

At the end of the night, Director Susan Moyer said she believed about 300 people had filtered through the library.

“It’s a wonderful event and we’re just really happy to be part of it,” she said.

According to Moyer, both routine library users and a handful of potential new patrons came through during the event, which included a visit from Santa.

“So that was a big deal,” she said. “Santa was really busy tonight. I think that’s always the fun part. Everybody just had a good time.”

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