Nation’s First Singing Christmas Tree Celebrates 86 Years at Belhaven University

For the past 85 years, Belhaven students have readied their voices and gathered on a 35-foot tall structure to be part of the first and oldest singing Christmas tree in the United States. This year, students will continue that tradition for the 86th performance of Belhaven’s Singing Christmas Tree.

“It’s not often we get the chance to make history,” said Christopher Phillips, specialty instructor and director of the singing Christmas tree.

“To be a part of Belhaven’s Singing Christmas Tree is the opportunity to do just that. As the oldest event of its kind in the nation, it’s thrilling and humbling to be a part of this special tradition. We are honored to present this gift to our community this year for the 86th time.”

Since its creation in 1933, the tree frame has grown taller, candles were exchanged for LED lights, voices and music were amplified and more singers were added each year. Today, the wood and metal structure holds over 100 men and women. The LED lights change colors in various patterns and sequences according to the character of each Christmas carol, creating a visual spectacle for listeners.

Both performances on November 30 and December 1 are free to the public and will take place at the Belhaven University Bowl Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Certain traditions have become expected elements to the tree. An auditioned soloist is positioned under the star located at the very top of the tree. This honored soloist performs “O Holy Night” near the Tree’s conclusion. Other traditions include artificial snowfall during “White Christmas” and humorous “insider jokes” interposed into the lyrics of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and other Christmas carol favorites.

Mignonne Caldwell, the originator of Belhaven’s tree and music professor, created the event as a way to give back to the surrounding community. Caldwell recruited college engineer Mr. C. V. McLain to construct the first wooden tree frame for the choir to stand on. Caldwell’s concert idea became a reality and debuted to the public in December 1933. After the success of the first performance, it became a yearly tradition.
Ms. Bettye Quinn, Associate Professor of Education and Director of Elementary Education, has attended the event for 78 years and remembers seeing the tree for the first time. Quinn said, “I remember when I was three in 1937 and a family friend brought me to see the Belhaven singing Christmas tree.

At the time the tree was a group of 50 girls on a platform between the columns, they had on white robes and held bright lights that reflected into the lagoon. It was just a glorious sight for a little child to see. I have come every year since to see the Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree.”
Belhaven’s Singing Christmas Tree was named one of the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society, and it continually draws in thousands of people each year. The Singing Christmas Tree tradition continues serving the Jackson community by providing a spiritually edifying, fun-filled event of visual and musical splendor.

GBF Releases Plans for New Belhaven Park Stage

The Greater Belhaven Foundation released their plans to begin a capital campaign to construct a stage in Belhaven Park at their Annual Party on November 6. The Greater Belhaven Foundation slated Belhaven Park as one of its main projects in regards to long term planning in 2006.

The park had been neglected for the 30 years prior and had become a blight on the community. Within a short period of time with hard work and a collaborative effort between the GBF, the City of Jackson, residents and business owners the park has become a wonderful gathering place and a remarkable venue for the arts.

The Greater Belhaven Foundation is preparing to embark on the final phase of improvement of Belhaven Park, the Belhaven Park Stage. Studies have shown that Parks do not only serve to make areas “pretty” they are a driving force of economic development.

The addition of the stage will make Belhaven Park an even more appealing venue for outdoor performing arts, bringing additional visitors to our neighborhood and welcoming them to explore all that Greater Belhaven has to offer.

The Foundation would like to thank Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopeadic Center for providing the seed money for the project.

Celebrate Greater Belhaven at our Annual Party!

Come join the Greater Belhaven Foundation on Tuesday, November 6 from 6:00-8:00pm at The Rickhouse. The Foundation will have renderings of upcoming projects available for viewing and will be updating the neighborhood on where we are going in 2019! Come help celebrate our donors and all the things that they are making possible!!

GBF Announces New Chairperson of the Board of Directors

The Greater Belhaven Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of Susan Garrard as the new Chairperson of the Board of Directors. Garrard has previously served the Foundation board as both a director and as the promotions chair.

Garrard has been President and CEO of the Mississippi Children’s Museum since 2008 and was responsible for successfully completing and administering a $26.6 million capital campaign that realized the dream of a 40,000 square foot children’s museum in Jackson, Mississippi. Under her leadership, the museum was awarded the KidsCount Program of Promise Award , the MS Tourism Association’s Attraction of the Year in 2011 and was a finalist for the national medal for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Susan has served on numerous committees within the children’s museum field, including Secretary of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) board of directors in 2017-2018, member of the ACM board of directors since 2014; the ACM pre-emerging museum conference committee chairperson in 2014; and the ACM conference programs committee in 2013. She also currently serves on the Nissan Community Advisory Board. In 2017, Susan was named one of the 50 Leading Business Women of the Year by the Mississippi Business Journal and received a Hometown Hero award from Visit Jackson. Susan was awarded the Goodwill Community Volunteer of the Year in 2009, received the Tribute of Excellence in 2013 from Youth Villages, and the Hands of Providence award in 2014 from Southern Christian Services.

Before serving as President of MCM, Susan served as chairperson of the MCM Board of Directors as well as the first president of the museum’s auxiliary volunteer group, MCM Partners. Susan has been involved civically in the Jackson community since 1984 – serving on the boards of the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation, Jackson Preparatory School and the Junior League of Jackson, including a term as league president in 2002-2003. She is a member of the Belhaven Home and Garden Club and attends church at Galloway Methodist Church. Susan, a native of Sebastopol, MS, is a graduate of Mississippi State University and the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York in New York City. She is married to John Walter Garrard II and the mother of two sons, Jack and William.

Become a part of the team at The Oaks House Museum!

Part-time Position Available – Museum Assistant

The Oaks House Museum Corporation is seeking qualified candidates for the part-time position of museum assistant at the Oaks House Museum. The house (built in 1853) and historic site are owned by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Mississippi and located at 823 N. Jefferson Street, Jackson, Mississippi. Candidates must have an appreciation of Mississippi history and desire to share it with others.

The Oaks House Museum is open two days a week, Tuesday and Friday (except on national holidays), from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. A museum assistant will have the following duties:
a. Be present during opening hours to give tours of the house and grounds to visitors;
b. Study the history of the Boyd-McGill families who lived in the Oaks House for more than 100 years, as well as the historic architecture and interior and landscaping;
c. Oversee general maintenance of the house, grounds and furnishings (which may include some housekeeping tasks such as sweeping water off the front porch after a rainstorm) and notify the museum’s Executive Board if a problem arises;
d. Answer the museum phone and check voice mail and email messages; schedule tours; maintain the museum calendar; and communicate information to the Board;
e. Prepare monthly reports of visitors, admissions, sales, and donations.
f. Assist the museum’s Board of Directors in educational programs; board meetings; and fundraising events;
g. Periodically update the museum’s Facebook page.

The position will be part-time. Wage is negotiable depending on work skills and qualifications but starting at $9.00 an hour. College degree preferred; high school diploma and good computer and people skills required. Please send inquiries and resumes to

Part-time Position Available – Museum Director:

The Oaks House Museum Corporation is seeking qualified candidates for the part-time position of Museum Director of the Oaks House Museum. The house (built in 1853) and historic site are owned by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Mississippi and located at 823 N. Jefferson Street, Jackson, Mississippi. Candidates must have an appreciation of Mississippi history and a passion for sharing it with others.

Duties will include managing daily operations and overseeing general maintenance of the house, grounds, and furnishings; working with tourist organizations, schools, community groups, and state historical agencies and organizations to promote the house and provide educational programs; recruiting and directing paid/volunteer docents; assisting the museum’s board of directors in fundraising efforts; and applying for grants and administering them.

The position will be part-time, and hours of employment are negotiable. Experience in museum or other non-profit corporation administration and a college degree are required. Salary is $18,000 a year. Please send inquiries and resumes to

The Greater Belhaven Foundation to Participate in the Great American Clean-up

Keep Jackson Beautiful - Great American CleanupThe Greater Belhaven Foundation in partnership with the Belhaven Improvement Association and the Belhaven Heights Community Association will be participating in the Great American Clean-up on Saturday, April 7, 2018 starting at 9:00 a.m.  The clean-up will be of the East Fortification Street Corridor.

“We are extremely excited to have met the criteria to be registered as a clean-up group that day through Keep Jackson Beautiful,” said Casey Creasey, GBF Executive Director, “Fortification Street is a main thoroughfare, I am excited we will all be working together to give a much needed clean-up.”

Great American Cleanup, Keep America Beautiful’s largest annual community improvement program gives organized groups a variety of ways to create a cleaner, safer, more beautiful environment.

From March 1st to May 31st more than 3,000 volunteers from schools and neighborhoods join Keep Jackson Beautiful and the City of Jackson’s Solid Waste Division to become stewards of the environment in their community.

The Great American Cleanup is built on a foundation of individual responsibility, civic pride and the power of partnerships to clean-up, green-up, fix-up, beautify, and recycle.

For more information on the event or how to volunteer please contact or visit

The Greater Belhaven Foundation Announces New Executive Director

Casey Creasey, Executive Director

Casey Creasey
Executive Director

The Greater Belhaven Foundation is pleased to announce that Casey Creasey has been named the new Executive Director of the Greater Belhaven Foundation (GBF).

Creasey has served as Interim Director since October. She has a long-standing affiliation with the neighborhood organization including serving as the Greater Belhaven Foundation Special Projects Chair and the Bright Lights Belhaven Nights Assistant Festival Coordinator.

“We are elated to have Casey serve in this vital position,” said Steve Funderburg, GBF President. “Through her different roles, she has been part of the foundation for several years, and has a working knowledge of the organization and the neighborhood. She not only brings this experience to the position, but also brings great enthusiasm and creativity.”

Creasey was the featured artist of the 12th annual Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights street festival (BLBN), where she drew her inspiration from Belhaven Park and the Bright Lights Belhaven Nights event, and created a unique 3-D painting for the festival that reflected elements of Belhaven.
Creasey received a Broadcast Journalism degree and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi.

She is actively involved in the community where she has served as the Art and Design Chair for Mistletoe Marketplace, Chair of Art for the Park and President of the Belhaven Garden Club. Creasey resides in Belhaven with her husband Sam, a partner with Morgan & Morgan, and their daughter Grace.


GBF, a non-profit group governed by a board of directors, works to improve and revitalize the area through long-range planning, economic restructuring, historic preservation, green space enhancement, and improvement of Fortification Street, the major east-west corridor between the two neighborhoods.

It’s been a great year in Greater Belhaven!

2017 has been a time of exciting changes at the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation, and we want to thank you, your support through the years has made the Foundation’s success possible.

Our future looks bright. From the renewed enthusiasm for volunteerism to the beginning of the Museum to Market Trail Project, there’s a lot to celebrate this year. Shortly after the “Being Belhaven” party last year, our long-time former Executive Director Virgi Lindsay won a landslide victory in the Ward 7 City Council election. We’ve been so proud to watch Virgi continue to work her magic on behalf of Greater Belhaven, Ward 7 and the City of Jackson.

This spring, the Foundation unveiled our new website. It wonderfully showcases Greater Belhaven and the exciting events that are scheduled as we move into 2018. Special thanks to Laurel Isbister and Own Your Hill for their work and leadership on the website launch which the neighborhood celebrated with the (always popular) combination of champagne and popsicles at Deep South Pops.

Summer brought a big change to the McDade’s and Lou’s Full-Serv parking lot mural. Local artists and neighbors Rachel Misenar and Elizabeth Fowler spent a week in the heat working with neighborhood children to create an artistic interpretation of Greater Belhaven. It’s something special to see.

“Bright Lights Belhaven Nights” closed out the summer with near record attendance and a whole new look. GBNF’s partnership with Baptist Health Systems, C-Spire, The Manship, Medical Practice Solutions, Mississippi Sport’s Medicine, Fondren Public and our sponsors allowed the festival to remain tremendously successful while maintaining the “neighborhood party” feel that we’ve all enjoyed for more than a decade. Many thanks to GBNF directors Mike Stevens, Wilson Hood and Steven O’Neil for their leadership on BLBN and its success.

The 2017 Being Belhaven Art Series began with Shakespeare in the Park on the Mother’s Day weekend. New Stage Theatre’s Youth Acting Troupe performed “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in Belhaven Park. A special thank you to New Stage Theatre for making this event possible. Pumpkins in the Park was a huge success with Belhaven Artist Carlie Hogan leading the painting of the Pumpkins! This was followed by a screening of Jurassic Park. The Art Series concluded with The Community Peace Sing at Belhaven Park. There were performances by The Metro Male Chorus and The Murrah High School Concert Choir. A huge thank you to Royce and Sherry Boyer for making this event so special each year.

In 2018, the foundation looks forward to working with our friends and neighbors to continue turning back encroachments on Greater Belhaven and working with the amazing volunteers within BIA, BHCA and GBSA who have done so much to enhance and beautify this special place. As part of this effort, the GBF board of directors is seeking applicants for the position of Executive Director. Click here to learn more!

Thank you to all who support the GBF and we look forward to another incredible year together!


Greater Belhaven Foundation

GBF Now Accepting Applicants for Executive Director Position

The Board of Directors of the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation is evaluating applicants for the Executive Director position. Click here to view a copy of the Executive Director job description. Interested parties are invited to submit letters of interest and resumes to the Foundation address as listed in the description. The deadline for submission will be December 8, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

To apply, please submit letter of interest and resume:

Greater Belhaven Foundation
954 E. Fortification Street
Jackson, MS 39202

Board reserves the right to modify, delete, and/or add additional expectations to meet the needs of the Greater Belhaven Foundation as necessary

The Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements,

BIA unveils 12 new MS Historical Markers

Belhaven Improvement Association (BIA) was thrilled to unveil the first of 12 new MS Historical Markers for the Belhaven Historic District.

The celebration was hosted by Peter and Tamar Sharp, owners of The Fairview Inn (Jackson’s greatest “hidden gem”). It was an amazing event full of excitement and hope for a future that points to a #BetterBelhaven and a #BetterJackson.

The night was highlighted by 4 speakers who each provided a different perspective on the importance of the Fairview Inn and the Belhaven Historical Markers Walking Trail. Mary Ann Davis (President of Antonelli College) provided the “Inn Guest’s Perspective” and shared a beautiful insight to her “home away from home”. Brother Rogers (Director of Programs and Communication for MDAH) provided the “Historical Perspective” and gave insight to the rich history of the Fairview Inn.

Dr Reed Hogan III (President of BIA) gave the “Neighborhood Perspective” and spoke to the importance of creating a stronger neighborhood because stronger neighborhoods create stronger cities. Dr Safiya Omari (Chief of Staff for the City of Jackson) provided the “City Perspective” with an encouraging and inspiring charge for everyone to embrace the Capital city!

BIA is working hard and collaborating with Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Visit Jackson, and the City of Jackson to make this a reality for the Belhaven Historic District.

15 total markers are anticipated by the end of January 2018. This framework will create a unique and charming attraction for both locals and tourist visit the Jackson area. This will give the Belhaven Historic District, Mississippi’s largest Historic District, an amazing opportunity to preserve and promote our great history.

Much more to come…

#EmbraceHerHistory #SecureHerFuture #HistoricBelhaven #BetterBelhaven #OurBelhaven #BIA