“A Musically Magical Christmas” is the 2017 parade theme and the woman who musically touched the lives of so many children, has accepted the honor of Grand Marshal.

Sleet or snow, rain or shine, the annual Lake of the Ozarks Christmas Parade marches down Bagnell Dam Boulevard. Each second Saturday in December the community comes together sharing holiday cheer and good will with neighbors and visitors throughout the area.

“A Musically Magical Christmas” is the 2017 parade theme and the woman who musically touched the lives of so many children, has accepted the honor of Grand Marshal. Rayleen Platter Wilson, still in education, still in music, exemplifies the spirit of learning and growing through the magic of music and will lead the parade right behind the Marine Corps League Color Guard.

The first Lake of the Ozarks Christmas Parade, in 1984, passed in front of a store called Poverty Shack run by Howard and Rayleen Platter. Their T-shirt shop opened next to an existing store, Red Lantern, a gift shop run by Howard’s parents, Alta and Garland Platter. As for what happened to these stores, they are now the location of Frog, run by Beth and Dave Platter. Howard’s brother.

New to the Lake in 1983, Rayleen and Howard Platter needed more than the T-shirt business to get them through a Lake winter. Within a few months of moving here, her father-in-law, then on the board of education of School of the Osage, alerted Rayleen to an upcoming position as vocal instructor at the high school.

Her education earned her a degree in Music Education, instrumental and vocal, from MU; and a subsequent Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Platter’s teaching career started as band director for eight years in her home town of Palmyra, Missouri until she and Howard moved to the Lake and she began her next career phase: Vocal director who built a curriculum for SOTO which remains the foundation of the current school music program.

Rayleen Platter, or Mrs. P. as she is known to former students, retired from the school in 2009 after 26 years and two-plus generations of students went through the vocal music program, many for six years of their school days.

A new phase is dawning for the Bagnell Dam Strip Association as parade chairman, Jeff Van Donsel of Rockwood Resort Motel, stepped down earlier welcoming in new chairwoman, Kim Miller of Bagnell Dam Coney Island and Sliders and the Sugar Shack Ice Cream Spot. Miller, with husband and business partner Gerry, is enthusiastic about growing the parade larger and livelier, followed on parade day by the Visit with Santa and the Community Bonfire and Sweets Table at Two-Bit Town.

On a timeline with the parade, and changing through the times, in a third phase of her career, Rayleen Platter Wilson is currently school administrator at King’s Academy in Lake Ozark, a part-time retirement job topped with lots of volunteer hours.

Music and church was part of Wilson’s life from youth. At sixteen she became church organist in Palmyra, a position she holds today at Christ the King Lutheran in Lake Ozark, where she is intertwined with its history from its beginning in 1996. An old resort property, Christ the King Church was built as a missionary project from Hope Lutheran in Osage Beach who perceived a new congregation in Lake Ozark as the area grew.

Reflecting back on a quarter century with School of the Osage, Wilson enjoyed the steps along the way and the students. “Not everybody enjoys junior high and high school students, but I loved the level of performance of the high school students … and my junior high kids, I just liked them. If you could hook them early you get six years to keep them as students,”

When School of the Osage built a new high school, Rayleen Platter got a performance space with potential and opportunity for the music students. “It was a great district to work for; a great fit for me. School of the Osage gave financial and administrative support to create the music program. In the fall of 1986 we moved to the new high school on Route 42. I was used to concerts in gymnasiums. The new school had an auditorium.”

Building the curriculum left a legacy carried on by Platter’s former student, Amy Yoder, current vocal director. Mrs. P. built the program into three choirs for the range of student interest from the enjoyment of singing in Mixed Choir, to the more musically challenging Concert Choir, and the show and contest group, the chamber choir of about thirty skilled voices called Les Chanteurs. These three choirs still remain intact with Yoder’s current vocal curriculum.

By retirement Mrs. P. had taken on additional teaching as assistant band director, working alongside of Jeff Kile, band director, as the instrumental program had developed into a program that required additional staff.

Between her career phases, Howard Platter passed away. Soon after, Rayleen moved her church home from Hope Lutheran to Christ the King, drawn by the students. In time she reconnected with a former high school classmate from Palmyra, Monte Wilson. They married in 2014 and decided to keep their home in the Lake Ozark area.

It’s been four years since Wilson took on the administrator position at King’s Academy. It was an evolution of opportunities. First, she took the chairman position on the board of education at the church. King’s Kids Preschool had been in place since 2003, and the board began researching the possibility of opening a kindergarten class, which opened in 2012 with five students. Next she agreed to facilitate the accreditation process which was completed in 2015.

Today The King’s Academy is an accredited school for Pre-K through Grade 8 with 108 students. As the school grew the need for an administrator was apparent and Wilson was offered the part time position of school administrator. Though her position is administrative, she describes the job as “… managing everything that comes your way: work in the kitchen, recess duty, substitute for anyone who needs it.”

By way of example, Wilson was overseeing a sick student who was waiting in her office for the student’s mother. Wilson offered comfort and confirmed the diagnosis that the student would not be able to sing at Tan-Tar-A that evening at a scheduled concert.

Wilson promised the student there would be other opportunities. After the girl left with her mother, Wilson explained, “Our director had to go out of town for a funeral. They were wondering if we should cancel on tonight’s concert, but I said, ‘No, let’s keep the date,” she smiled, reminiscing, “I’ve directed at Tan-Tar-A before, I’ll take them.’

And so, a next generation of students gives Wilson a chance to play Mrs. P. again, directing students in another musical experience, hoping it catches them. “My joy is when I see former students as adults still involved in music in some way,” and after a pause, she adds, “But there is no greater joy than children singing praises to God. In all kinds of music.

Wilson continues her reverie of hope for the students’ diverse musical education. She was influenced by three trips to Europe which helped introduce foreign language and culture bringing variety to the classroom. From gospel music to folk; incorporating instruments and drums; from spirituals to classics; from Mozart to pop music; Mrs. P. brought students the magic of music.

The BDSA parade committee invites former students and their families to extend their warm wishes to Rayleen Platter Wilson and to open their voices in the songs of the season along with Strolling Carolers.

A Musically Magical Christmas parade theme presents the following awards: $250 Cash Prize for Best Entry and $100 cash prize for each: Best Business, Best Youth Group and Best Organization at Lake of the Ozarks Christmas Parade, Saturday, December 9 at 3 p.m.

Parade lines up on 242 in order of arrival (equine excepted). Immediately following parade, Visit with Santa and the Community Bonfire will be at Two-Bit Town. For more information go to lakechristmasparade.com or contact Kim Miller 417-365-0849 lakeparadeinfo@gmail.com