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'Yule log' hunt at preserve launches Christmas spirit

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The hunt for the fabled Yule log continues this Friday at the Reynolds Nature Preserve in Morrow.

Starting at 7 p.m., the preserve will light a huge bonfire, serve hot cocoa, and conduct a hunt for a Yule log with a pretty red ribbon on it -- a tradition that began 27 years ago.

Each year, a new Yule log is crafted from the wood of fallen cedar trees on the property, tied with a bow, hidden on the property, and left for adventurous children to find.

Stephanie Lucas, manager of the Reynolds Nature Preserve, said since the beginning, a piece of the previous year's Yule log is used to help start the next year's bonfire as a sign of good luck.

"It's hidden on a hillside and can be seen in the firelight," said Lucas. "It's not like we send them out on our 146 acres on a wild goose chase."

Lucas said that the search is for children only, and "if you can drive a car, you shouldn't be looking for the Yule Log."

Cindy Mears, an administrative assistant at Babb Middle School, has lived near the preserve for 41 years and said that locals and nature enthusiasts have looked forward to the event every year since its inception.

"I've gone every year and I've carried my grandchildren," said Mears. "It's kind of a tradition in our neighborhood. It's a beautiful place there and it really gets you in the spirit for the holiday season."

In addition to the bonfire and the Yule Log hunt, attendees will be able to enjoy candle-lit pathways, free refreshments, face painting, ornament making, storytelling by published local author, Calvin Sims, and the volunteer talent of Borderline Blue, a local bluegrass band.

Bob Edens, a retired Delta Air Lines mechanic, who plays Dobro guitar and banjo for the band, said the band would play several favorites by bluegrass star, Rhonda Vincent, such as "Kentucky Borderline" and "Ridin' the Red Line," as well as several Christmas songs.

"We love to play ... that's a great joy for us," said Edens. "Whether we get money or not, it doesn't matter."

John Williams, a senior ranger at Reynolds Nature Preserve, said the event serves as a chance for people who aren't familiar with the preserve to get acquainted.

"We have people who have lived here for twenty years and ... never knew Clayton County had a nature preserve," said Williams.

Parking for the event will be at Babb Middle School, with a free shuttle provided. The Reynolds Nature Preserve is located at 5665 Reynolds Road in Morrow.