‘Tis the season … for hot chocolate and elves and visits to Santa and Christmas carols and gift shopping and pretty lights and all things happy and joyous.
For the fifth straight year, the city Christmas tree will be lit amidst a celebration that includes all those Christmas season things, and area businesses, the city of Sparta, and Christpoint Church head up a full celebration at Liberty Square, on Dec. 3.
The annual Welcome Home for Christmas celebration will take place 5-8 p.m., with the lights on the city’s tree that sits at the entrance to the amphitheater on the western corner of Liberty Square being turned on at 7 p.m.
“This year, we are going to continue to have activities and entertainment after the lights come on,” Hannah Brown, the head of the tree lighting committee, said and further stated there will be some new and some different things this year. “We decided that there is still so much celebrating, so much fun to be had, once the lights come on that we will turn them on in the middle of our program instead of at the end.”
This year, the committee has decided to combine some of the old with some of the new. As in the past years, there will be live entertainment happening on the stage at the amphitheater. Entertainment will include music from the Singing Believers, a children’s choir, “game show” entertainment that will get the crowd involved, and community caroling. There will be food vendors as well as a hot chocolate station. Photos with Santa will be available as children of all ages can stop by the city’s gazebo, on the east side of Liberty Square, and talk with the head elf and let him know what they would like to find under their trees next month.
But there will be some new additions to the celebration this year as well. While Santa has a small gift for each child that stops to see him, there will be some give-away-gifts coming from area businesses as well as White County that kids can register to win.
“Prizes include televisions, bicycles, Kindle Fires, and more,” Brown said. “We will hold a drawing at 7:45 p.m., and you must be present to win.”
How to enter the drawing? That’s through another new addition to this year’s Welcome Home for Christmas celebration.
“This year, we are adding Candy Cane Lane to our celebration,” Brown said. “This is a Kids Zone where we will have bounce houses, make-and-take crafts, including ornaments and magic reindeer food, and a special booth sponsored by First National Bank where you can stop and meet the Grinch.”
Brown said participants will need to stop at a specially marked Candy Cane Lane registration tent and pick up a wristband and a registration card.
“It’s completely free, but we want to be sure everyone gets a card – that’s how you will get registered for the drawing,” she explained. “Visit each station along Candy Cane Lane, make the craft, and get your card signed by the volunteer at that station. When you have completed all of the stations, bring your card back to the registration tent. That’s it! You are registered for the drawing.”
Brown said the stations along Candy Cane Lane, which will be throughout Metcalf Park, will be open 5-6:45 p.m. They will close for the tree lighting but will open back up 7:05-7:30 p.m. for anyone who still needs to complete their registration cards.
Another new addition to this year’s Welcome Home for Christmas celebration will be the combination of the event with Tinsel Town Market, an annual craft fair. This year, the craft fair will take place inside Oldham Theater, on the southwest corner of Liberty Square, and will be available for those who want to get some great, unique, gifts for the season.
And, this year, 75 children will have the chance to party with an elf.
“We will have a VIP Elf Experience available for some kids,” Brown said, adding that there will be a $5 charge for children (although parents are free). “Unfortunately, due to time and space constraints, we will have to limit it to the first 75 kids.”
The experience will include a short bus ride on the elves’ party bus as it circles North Church Street, West Everett Street, North Main Street, and Bockman Way. The bus will be bouncing with music as the elves and their VIP guests party and sing and celebrate. As it returns to Liberty Square, the elves will provide each VIP participant with a small treat and a party wristband – to be used to join them on stage for a VIP Dance Party later in the evening!
“The elves will be running their party bus from 5 p.m. until 6:45,” Brown said. “Then, around 7:40 anyone with a party wristband should head to the amphitheater to get ready to join the elves on stage for a VIP Dance Party.”
Brown said the committee has been blessed this year to get increased involvement from businesses throughout the White County community.
“We want this to become a truly memorable event – something that families will remember all year long and look forward to coming to over and over again each year,” she said. “To have this be a complete community event, supported by businesses throughout the community, has always been the goal.”
While the event has always been spearheaded by Christpoint Church, Brown said they are glad to have the following businesses and organizations helping them make the Welcome Home for Christmas event grow: Bargain Supply Warehouse, Brady Printing, Bushido Karate Center, City of Sparta, Coffee Collective, Elite Automotive, First National Bank, Hayes Family Bounce Houses, Jared Howard State Farm, JW’s Healthy Hemp, Law Office of Macey Gurley; Marioochi’s, Passin’ Time Barber Shop, Santa of White County, Southern Roots Salon, Sunseekers Outfitters, White County Executive Denny Wayne Robison, WCHS Interact Club, Xceed Limitz, and YERT Nutrition
“We hope that everyone will come out and join us on Saturday, Dec. 3,” Brown said. “Have some fun, make some memories, experience the joy of Christmas.”
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