Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 26, 2013

Kantors volunteer for Holiday of Lights gate on Christmas

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Even on a cold night in December, the warmth of the stories at Bluefield’s Holiday of Lights is enough to chase away the winter chill.

Soon after the start of the local holiday light show tradition started, Doris Sue and Norris Kantor have been staffing the entrance gate on one night of the season to give out candy canes to visitors on the way in, and accept donations on the way out.

“I give out the candy canes and Norris takes care of the donations,” Doris Sue Kantor said. “That’s the way we have always done it.”

“This used to be a lot harder when there wasn’t a hut out here,” Norris Kantor said. “On a cold night like this, it was hard to stand outside all night long. We used to take turns running to the car to get warm.”

“One year when it was really cold, I was outside giving out candy canes in an elf costume,” Doris Sue Kantor said. “That was really cold.”

The Kantors, who are Jewish, enjoy giving their Christian friends a chance to spend Christmas with their families. “We used to do this on Christmas Eve, but we changed a few years ago and started volunteering on Christmas,” Doris Sue Kantor said. “I hand out the candy canes and wish everyone a merry Christmas.”

“This is so much better with an enclosed building and windows,” Norris Kantor said. “It was tough when we stood outside.”

One of the first vehicles in line was Randy Gibson and his wife from Bramwell. “We didn’t have anyone else at home tonight, so we thought, let’s go through the Holiday of Lights,” Gibson said.

Sheila Chipley of Princeton brought Daniel Kereth with her to enjoy the light show. Kereth is 95, and this year marked the second time he had seen the Holiday of Lights.

Norris and Doris Sue Kantor immediately recognized Mr. Kereth, and came over to visit with him for a while.

“He’s a Holocaust survivor,” Doris Sue Kantor said. “He’s my buddy.”

Dwight Godwin, director of the Bluefield Parks & Recreation Department said that donations were up on Christmas Eve, but added that getting started a week late has put the Holiday of Lights several thousand dollars behind the previous years.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com