Gessner to be honored

Gessner to be honored

The community will honor Bob Gessner at the Festival of Music and Candlelighting Ceremony at St. Mary’s Church on Sunday, Dec. 8, following the Community Candlelight Walk.


The community will honor Bob Gessner at the Festival of Music and Candlelighting Ceremony at St. Mary’s Church on Sunday, Dec. 8, following the Community Candlelight Walk.

The event, which is free and open to everyone, includes music provided by the Washington High School advanced choir, the children’s Sixteenth Street Singers group and St. Mary’s choir.

Each year the honorary community candlelighter is selected from nominations submitted by the public for outstanding contributions to Massillon’s quality of life.

When Gessner retired this year after decades as president of MCTV, he turned his energy toward community development. The most visible evidence of his new passion is the First North Building, crested by a seven-panel work of original art depicting the history of Massillon.

Gessner also was involved in the redevelopment of the former Doctors Hospital site and offered support for downtown and industrial park improvements. He has served the community on the school board and on Massillon Development Foundation and Stark Economic Development board, both of which he has chaired. He and his wife Nancy co-chair the Massillon Museum’s capital campaign to expand and enhance the cultural core of the community.

“Bob is a fifth-generation local benefactor,” Community Candlelight Walk chair Margy Vogt said. “The generosity of our honoree and his family has touched everyone in our community. We are truly grateful.”

The Community Candlelight Walk is a self-guided stroll through downtown Massillon among luminarias and Christmas lights to visit eight historic churches and four community attractions. Guests may pick up a brochure wherever they start. They can choose their own route and set their own pace. The brochure includes a map of the event and approximate schedules of music, storytelling and tours at the churches.

Historic churches include St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, St. George Greek Orthodox Church, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Central Presbyterian Church, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and First United Methodist Church.

The churches will present nearly continuous music from 5-7:30 p.m. Some churches will intersperse their music with church tours or storytelling. Many will be decorated for Christmas and offer refreshments.

The Massillon Museum’s new event space will be the official refreshment and warming station this year. Walkers can stop in for free Main Street Deli cookies, coffee, tea and cocoa. The museum will offer mulled wine for purchase. Singers from VOCI will entertain. Library staff members and friends will carol on the steps of the Massillon Pubic Library building.

Massillon Railroad Club, located in the lower level of the First United Methodist Church, will have O-gauge trains running. Hundreds of luminarias placed by the CHARM neighborhood association will lead past the Five Oaks mansion on historic Fourth Street. Massillon Heritage Foundation and Massillon Woman’s Club members will offer refreshments and live music amidst the mansion’s architecture and holiday decorations.

Prior to the Community Candlelight Walk from 4-5 p.m., Grace United Church of Christ will present music by the New Horizons, the Tuslaw show choir. During the walk the First Church of Christ Scientist and the Music Box Church will complement the programs of the historic churches with live performances.

This year’s sponsors include The Independent, Aqua Ohio, Main Street Deli, Downtown Massillon Association, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chapel Hill Community, Farmers National Bank, Koby Electric, Paquelet Funeral Home, PPI Graphics, CHARM and St. John’s United Church of Christ.

To learn more about the event, call Vogt at 330-832-8469 or email

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