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Archives Carthage Knights create signs of the season

December 15, 2021

By Catherine Bracy
Contributing Writer

CARTHAGE – “Keep Christ in Christmas.”

This is the message that the Knights of Columbus Father John Cosmic Council #291 of Carthage has been promoting for over 50 years.

How has this message been promoted? By billboard.

The tradition started approximately 50 years ago when past Grand Knight Joseph Shambo received a postcard from what is now the Lamar Advertising Company, requesting ideas for depicting the Christmas season. Shambo proposed the idea to the Knights’ Council, and thus began the process of sponsoring the billboard(s) during the month of December.

The Knights currently rent two billboards each year. They purchase the posters from a design company called Christ is Christmas, LLC. The posters and billboard spaces are paid for via a 50/50 raffle and donations.

This project is currently overseen by Steve Szalach, the Council Treasurer. According to Szalach, the two board spaces are rented by Lamar “at a very generous reduced rate.”

The billboards are located near Carthage and Watertown. One is on NYS Route 3 driving east between Herrings and Carthage, the other seen driving south on I-81 between Exits 44 and 45. The billboard on I-81 is illuminated.

Though the setup typically begins each December, Szalach points out that the billboard will be set up ahead of time “if the space has not been rented” in November.

Who is the target of this message promoted for such a long time, one may ask?

“Everybody” is Szalach’s answer. “We want everybody to stop and think [of] what Christmas is really about… Things would be so much better in the world if we all would put Christ first in our lives and treat each other as Jesus would. Remembering Him on his birthday is a good start.”

The Knights would like to thank all those who have supported the campaign over the years, especially the parishioners of St. James Church in Carthage.




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