'Tis The Season To Be Jolly With The Schraders
'Twas the night before Christmas and all though the house, the Schraders were stirring, getting ready to go out. When what to their wonderful eyes did appear but a motor coach full of friends, spreading good cheer. So down to McAdenville the group did go, to view the Christmas lights in a bright holiday show. The night was complete with Dorothy and Sheldon tucked in with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
Concord, N.C. ---
You can't have a party without "M&M's"®, so rest assured when Ken and Ann Schrader get together with family and friends for the holidays there will be a big bowl of red and green "M&M's"® Chocolate Candies for everyone to share.
But throughout the rush of holiday parties, the Schraders have one special night when they load up their motorhome with family and friends and plenty of "M&M's"® for a rolling Christmas party that takes them to McAdenville, N.C., a tiny little town famous for its Christmas decorations. So there is no need to ask the Schraders what their plans are for Christmas Eve. For the 10th year in row the Schrader's will spend the night before Christmas 'oohing and ahhing' while driving through the most famous Christmas lights display in the Carolinas.
With the crazy schedule that comes with Winston Cup racing, Ann and Kenny Schrader, driver of the "M&M's"® Pontiac in the Winston Cup Series, understand the importance of spending quality time at home with their children. Dorothy Schrader turns 10 on New Year's Eve and Sheldon will be four this month. With the kids growing up and Santa needing the same address to visit each year, the Schraders elected to spend Christmas in North Carolina away from their families in Missouri. To Ann, Christmas Eve was a time to be around family and friends so she and Kenny started their own celebration: a yearly trip to Christmastown, USA in their motorhome.
"The trip all got started the year I was pregnant with Dorothy (1989)," said Ann Schrader. "Somebody told me about a town near by that was all lit up, so I asked all season to go see the lights. We finally went on the 26th or 27th but they were already turned off. So the next year Kenny and I put it on our calendars to visit McAdenville and we've gone back every year since."
Dorothy was about to celebrate her first birthday when the Schrader's made their first trip to McAdenville. The trip has changed a little each year, but it has grown as well. Each year the group does something different before heading south. Ann's church used to do a special Christmas Eve service that was part of the trip, but now they all gather at a friend's house for dinner. The Schrader's settled on Christmas Eve to crank up the motorhome for a three hour tour because it seemed like the best time for everyone.
"Since we have Dorothy and Sheldon, we don't go back home for the holidays and it just didn't seem right to not be part of something big on Christmas Eve," Ann said. "There are a lot of people in this business that I call orphans because they are away from their families at Christmas, so we round them all up and take them with us. We even make the Scrooges go with us, and they always have a good time. "Now that Kenny has "M&M's"® as a sponsor we make sure we bring plenty of them with us on the trip because we couldn't have a party without "M&M's"®."
Kenny Schrader may not be a big fan of the Christmas music, but he does enjoy the camaraderie of the trip. "We don't really do anything elaborate on the trip, but we always have a good time and I wouldn't miss it for the world," Kenny said. "Dorothy and Sheldon enjoy seeing all the lights, but by the end of the night they are pretty wiped out and ready for bed. Then we all head home and get ready for Santa. "It seems like every year we have some new faces, but there is a crowd that goes with us every year. Benny and Terry Parsons went with us one year and Sam and Denise Bass have gone with us before. It is just a good time for everyone and a great way to spend Christmas Eve."
With Christmas music in the background, an occasional Christmas carol from the group and a menu filled with eggnog and "M&M's", a good time is had by all. The Schrader's trip to McAdenville is a way to make the Christmas season is a little brighter for everyone - literally and figuratively - and a holiday tradition they intend to keep for a very long time.