Collin Anderson
Panaca Elementary performed their annual Christmas program Dec. 4.

Not many people would consider pirates a suitable group of characters for a story about Christmas. But when a crew of scurvy scallywags happens upon a group of Santa’s little pointy-eared assistants during one of their rare island beach vacations, the pirates learn about the joy of giving instead of plundering. This is the tale the people of Panaca got to experience firsthand Dec. 4 at the Neldon C. Mathews auditorium, courtesy of Panaca Elementary.

The entire school had been working on the play since early in the year, practicing their lines and songs until they were perfect.

“The kids are really doing good this year,” said Jackie Thomas, a paraprofessional at the school and one of the leading music directors for the play, “and they’re really excited for their parents to see it.”

Thomas was not Santa’s only helper for this show, since there was much that needed to be prepared. Marty Soderborg and Sharee Mathews helped out with music as well, while Gretchen Soderborg directed the play. Mindy Anderson, Megan Simkins, Trinity Brackenbury and Ava Markarian helped choreograph the dance numbers (of which there were many) while Andy Robinson helped with lights and sound, per usual.

The sets were handled by Malinda Markarian, Kevin Smith and Juan Escobedo, while all the staff of Panaca Elementary did a spectacular job helping to wrangle the kids and make this the best performance it could be.

The kids put on two shows, one a matinee at 2 p.m. followed by an evening performance at 6 p.m.

Before the evening performance began, there was an announcement made by a representative from LCAT concerning the Gingerbread Fun Run. It was announced that the funds gathered from this event, which totaled more than $5,000, would be distributed to schools all over the county, with Panaca Elementary receiving $750 for their part in the fundraiser.

The organization also described how people in the community could help in a wide variety of ways, from participating in events like the Fun Run and purchasing merchandise such as shirts, or just donating towards this worthwhile cause.

After the free coat drive in the foyer was announced, (where anyone in need could pick up a coat), the show began. As stated above, the story begins when a group of Santa’s elves take a quick trip to a deserted island with the big man to get a little bit of sun and relaxation before heading back to get ready for Christmas Day. Unfortunately for them, a crew of buccaneers (who mistake Santa for the infamous pirate “White Beard”) swoop down upon them, following which the elves and Santa have to try and convince them to find their holiday spirit and give instead of take. They do this through a variety of songs sung by each of the classes at the school, including the preschoolers. In the end, the pirates change their ways and help Santa deliver gifts across the globe.

The final act of the play involved a reminder about the true nature of the season as a manger was brought out onto the stage, followed by Mary and Joseph, played by fifth graders. The entire audience was then invited to sing “Silent Night,” and together, those gathered celebrated the true spirit of Christmas.