Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
CHEROKEE COUNTY —
It happens every year.
You turn the radio on and hear "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells ... jingle all the way ... "
You fight with the clingy holiday tinsel, hoping more of it sticks to the tree than to you.
You take the children to visit "Santa" and drive around and gaze at holiday lights.
As people around the world prepare for Christmas celebrations, a multitude of Cherokee County groups are ushering in the winter holiday season with plenty of music and fanfare of their own.
Here are some of the many Christmas events in the area:
The “Hanging of the Greens,” a Christmas performance offered by the Jacksonville College Music Department, begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in Buckner Chapel.
On Dec. 9, the Jacksonville High School choir will perform at 6:30 p.m. in the school auditorium, while the middle school band performance is slated for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the middle school campus.
Fred Douglass pre-K and first grade students will present a holiday music program at Dec. 10, while older students from the Fred Douglass program (second through fourth grade classes) will have their holiday program Dec. 12. Both programs will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the school cafetorium.
Across town at Jacksonville Christian School, students will present a school Christmas program 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at People's Church; on Dec. 12, students will students will visit two local senior residential centers to sing for residents.
Other Dec. 12 holiday programs include those at East Side Elementary – beginning at 6:30 p.m. – and at Nichols Intermediate, where the school choir performs in concert 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
In Bullard, a junior high band Christmas concert begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 10, while the high school band holds its holiday recital at 7 p.m. Dec. 12.
An all-bands concert at Alto ISD will be held in the school cafeteria, 6 p.m. Dec. 12.
Rusk bands also will perform a holiday concert: The high school band concert is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 12, while the middle school concert is at 7 p.m. Dec. 19. Both will be held in the school auditorium.
First-grade students from Troup Elementary will perform a special Christmas play, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at the school's music gym.
This month, St. Nick will be visiting several communities, sharing meals and sitting still for photos with the young.
Little ones will have an opportunity to share Breakfast with Santa Saturday, at a 9 a.m. to noon meal hosted by Jacksonville’s Kids First Weekday Education, 210 Philip Street. A variety of activities are planned – crafts, letter-writing and others – and parents are invited to bring cameras to capture the moment.
Cost is $10 for one child, $15 for two children and $20 for three children per family. Adults are asked to provide a non-perishable food item for each breakfast.
Lufkin’s Texas Forestry Museum, located at 1905 Addison Drive, also will host a “breakfast with Santa” event, from 8 to10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. The “Santa Claus Express” also features a holiday craft-making session, according to a museum newsletter. To learn more, contact 936-632-9535.
And on Dec. 20, youths can visit Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Jacksonville, where Santa will pose with them for photos from 4 to 6 p.m., free of charge. To learn more, contact Natalie Duncan, 903-541-4515.
Food plays a huge role in just about every celebration, with the Christmas season no exception. In nearby Tyler, an inaugural Taste of the Holidays event – sponsored by Tours of Tyler and the Pampered Chef – will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at the McClendon House in Tyler, 806 E. Houston St.
The event will showcase Master Violinist Percy Wang, winners from the Lindale Idol competition, Scottish Bagpiper Paul Watson and World Renowned Native American Flutist Cody "Little Hawk" Swimmer.
Local bakeries and wineries also will offer samples of wonderful holiday fare, and arts and crafts vendors from the East Texas Area. Learn more by visiting www.toursoftyler.com.
Several Jacksonville elementary schools are providing students an opportunity to do a bit of holiday shopping this month at special “stores” open at their campus.
During the week of Dec. 9, the Fred Douglass PTO Christmas Store will be held in Room 403 from 7:45 to 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday; and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
East Side Elementary will operate a Penguin Patch gift shop – also during the week on Dec. 9, while West Side PTO’s Loot Store will be open from 10:45 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. Dec. 12, and the Joe Wright PTO gift shop will be held in the school library Dec. 16.
Rounding out the holiday fun are:
• “Christmas in the Park,” a second annual community fundraiser in Wells. Because of inclement weather, the event – which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and features a silent auction, among other activities – will be held at the fellowship hall at Falvey Methodist Church.
• Woodland’s Winter Wonderland, hosted Dec. 6 and 7 by Woodland Heights Baptist Church, at 273 Texas Hwy 204 East, just south of Loop 456 in Jacksonville. Hours are from 3-9 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and features a little bit of everything, so come and find everything on your Christmas list. Vendors may contact the church office, 903-586-6019, or Julie, 903-589-7991.
• A Hospice Lighting ceremony in Rusk begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 on the courthouse lawn on Henderson Street. Chaplain Wes Bynum will address the gathering.
• The Children's Park, at South Broadway and East Dobbs Streets in Tyler, will celebrate its 10th annual Christmas in the Park 6 p.m Friday, Dec. 6. The event features Christmas carols, story-telling at the base of a decorated tree, signature “snowman soup,” s'mores and special arts and crafts for children.
• A “Festival of Trees,” hosted by Palestine’s Dogwood Garden Club, will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Palestine Mall, located on South Loop 256. Local organizations will vie for the top three prizes in the event, which also features an arts and crafts bazaar, caroling and dances.
• From 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10-12, visitors can visit “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” a replica of the ancient city of Bethlehem “as it may have looked at the time of Christ's birth,” according to a flyer circulated on Facebook. Shops, a display of a traditional Jewish home and temple are featured, and guests can also visit a manger scene with Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. The town is set up on Corinth Road, next to Jacksonville Christian School.
• Youngsters from Bullard Primary School will get to perform in the Dec. 14 “Jingle with the Belles” as “Baby Belles” at a 9 a.m. to noon performance. The girls also will perform in the Christmas Spectacular Show at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at the local high school, then be special guests at the Belles' Christmas Dinner later that evening.
• Central Baptist Church will present "The Gift of Christmas," featuring Adam Paul Williams and the CBC Choir and Orchestra. This special night of music and celebration begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 in the CBC Sanctuary.