Family harmony: Raders give free Christmas concert

Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 01:53 PM.

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Wayne Rader wants to share his family’s Christmas party with as many people as can be packed into an auditorium.

“The entire event literally makes our Christmas for all the family,” he said, as he prepared for the 35th annual Country Christmas Show, which will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Arnold High School. Admission is free, the facility is handicap-accessible, and winter residents are welcome.

“The fun part for me and Patsy, as grandparents and great-grandparents, is that our family comes back from all over — Nashville, Atlanta, everywhere,” Wayne said. “It’s a family reunion. It means a lot to us.”

The Rader family has been an iconic name in Panama City Beach and Bay County since Wayne and Patsy Rader built The Ocean Opry in 1978. They performed there with three generations of their family for 28 years before retiring and selling the property. During that time, the Opry regularly hosted touring country music stars including Loretta Lynn, Mel Tillis, Johnny Cash and many more.

The Raders often perform for special concerts and benefits. Wayne has fond memories of shows they did at Everitt Middle School years ago to benefit the American Heart Association. The free Christmas show is a continuation of that desire to give to the community.

“The blessing I receive when I look out from the stage and see folks in the audience smile…” Wayne said, trailing off the thought. “People come that are totally depressed, some of them, and they leave with a warm spot in their hearts and a smile on their faces.”

Each song carries a special meaning, Wayne said. The show includes classics like “Silent Night” and “Away in a Manger,” but also more contemporary pieces. They always close with “Angels Among Us,” he said.

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