By CHERIL VERNON
PALESTINE — With the city already aglow with Christmas lights, it will also shine with the lights of holiday cheer as several holiday events are on tap for this weekend — ranging from a free holiday concert, the rescheduled Christmas Parade of Lights, ice skating and more.
Thankfully, this weekend's weather forecast is better than last week's frosty debacle. While there's a 90 percent chance of rain today, Saturday and Sunday's forecast is partly sunny with highs in the lower 50s and lows in the lower 30s.
From 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, enjoy a free holiday concert with the all-female doo-wop group Shake, Rattle & Roll in The Hollow in Old Town Palestine.
The Christmas Parade of Lights will kick off at 7 p.m. at the Anderson County Courthouse Square.
The route is a little different this year and will run from the courthouse down Avenue A to Oak Street, turn right onto Queen Street, turn right on Crawford Street and take Crawford back to the courthouse.
City of Palestine Events Coordinator Heather Hrebec said the parade theme this year is “The Music and Magic of Christmas.”
“The best thing about the Christmas Parade is the number of floats that participate,” Hrebec told the Herald-Press. “There's something about the lighted parade — everyone's in the spirit — and we get lots of participation.”
Exhibiting that spirit, local school bands will be marching to merry tunes, along with a host of other parade participants including area churches, businesses, organizations, city officials, animals and more. Santa Claus himself is rumored to make an appearance atop the Palestine Fire Department's Tower One truck, along with one of his favorite elves.
Following the parade, folks are invited to a lively celebration of music, activities and prizes at the courthouse, where Santa will be on hand. Palestine's Cream & Coffee will offer apple cider and hot chocolate for purchase.
“Its going to be fun,” Hrebec said. “Santa and his elf will be there, and parents can take pictures with Santa. He's going to be in front of the Christmas tree.”
Prizes for first, second and third place will be awarded to the best in four categories: floats, bands, automobiles and equine. The first-place float will receive a $300 prize.
Opening tonight, the Palestine Community Theatre will present its holiday production “Christmas Gifts” written and directed by Palestine native Jamie Waldon King in a one-weekend-only performance.
The opening night gala begins at 6:30 p.m. today with a complimentary wine and cheese reception. The curtain will open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s performance begins at 7:30 p.m., and the final performance will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Steps of Faith Dance Center will present “Claire & The Land of the Sweets” in four performances of an original adaption of the Christmas classic “The Nutcracker” with a modern day twist. The performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Palestine Civic Center.
The Anderson County Community Chorus & Orchestra will presents its 10th anniversary show “Sounds of Music” in two performances at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Palestine High School Auditorium. Admission is free.
Other events on tap for this weekend include Santa's Magical Workshop & Wonderland Depot, The Grinch's Lair at the old jail, classic holiday movie in the park, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3907's Christmas Bazaar, the Texas State Railroad's Polar Express™ rides, pop-up specialty Christmas stores, Pop-Up Art Gallery and more.
Here is a schedule of holiday events for this weekend:
TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY
• Pop-Up Art Gallery — The Pop-Up Art Gallery is an innovative gallery that pops up for a limited time showcasing local and regional artists. The exhibit will show arts works in ceramics, sculpture, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, folk art and photography. The Pop-Up Art Gallery, free to the public, is a project of the Main Street Department and accomplished through volunteers. The gallery is located at 213 W. Oak St. in downtown Palestine. This weekend, an opening reception will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. today. The gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
• The Grinch's Lair — The Grinch's Lair is located in the old Anderson County jail at 704 Avenue A near the courthouse square. The Grinch's Lair offers Whoville in the lobby with fun activities for the children. There's also a trek up to “Mt. Crumpit” to the Grinch's Lair where The Grinch shows you through his home all around the second floor. The Grinch's Lair will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and from 1 to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $5 per person. Bring a camera to take photos with the Who's, Max the Dog, and of course, The Grinch. “Who-licious Hot Chocolate” is offered for $1 a cup and souvenir Grinch photos are $2 each.
• Ice Skating — Experience Ice Skating under the Texas stars this holiday season. The synthetic “ice” skating rink that performs like regular ice will be located at the corner of Spring and John St., in the heart of historic downtown Palestine. Cost is $10, which includes skates and one hour of skating. Weather-permitting. Hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
• Polar Express Train Ride — Read along with the story as the historic steam-powered train makes its magical round-trip journey to the North Pole. Meet Santa and enjoy caroling, hot cocoa, a treat and a special gift for each child. Kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas. Texas State Railroad's Palestine Depot. Departs at 3:45 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:10 p.m. For more information visit www.TexasStateRR.com
• PCT's “Christmas Gifts” — The Palestine Community Theatre will present its holiday production “Christmas Gifts” for a one-weekend-only show. The opening night gala begins at 6:30 p.m. today with a complimentary wine and cheese reception. The curtain will open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s performance begins at 7:30 p.m., and the final performance will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $8 for students (ages 4-18) and $12 for adults. Tickets can be purchased at the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce, Dogwood Diner, Sears Hometown Store, Switch and Discount Pools. Tickets also may be purchased online at www.outhousetickets.com.
• “Claire & The Land of the Sweets — Steps of Faith Dance Center will present “Claire & The Land of the Sweets” in four performances of an original adaption of the Christmas classic “The Nutcracker” with a modern day twist. The performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Palestine Civic Center. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students (4 years old to 12th grade). Tickets are free for children age 3 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at Cream & Coffee or Great American T-shirt Company.
• Santa's Magical Workshop & Wonderland Depot — Enjoy an indoor Winter Wonderland filled with gingerbread, snowy trees and holiday delights. Write your letter to Santa and personally deliver it after traveling past the holiday train displays and candy cane lane before joining Mr. Claus in his parlor at the North Pole. Don’t miss the wooden model train display that is 42 feet long. The Texas State Railroad Society will offer an interpretive center filled with educational artifacts and historic displays from the Texas State Railroad. A pictorial display, also known as “Life on the Neches,” will feature the route of the Polar Express Train ride. Visitors will also get an in-depth look at the forest industry in East Texas. One of the main features offered by the Texas State Railroad Society will be an interactive train display. Admission is $1 and professional photos with Santa are available for $5 each. The holiday workshop and interpretive center is located at 201 W. Oak Street in downtown Palestine. The workshop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
• Christmas Bazaar — The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3907 will host a handful of vendors and a chili benefit at its Christmas bazaar from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the VFW building, located at 3800 W. Oak St. in Westwood. Children can have their pictures taken with Santa from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $5. Chili will be sold for $3 a bowl.
• Free Holiday Concert — Enjoy a free holiday concert from 3 to 5 p.m. with Shake, Rattle & Roll at The Hollow in Old Town Palestine. The magical music of the ‘50s and ‘60s is reborn through this unique all female East Texas show group. This group of friends and “seasoned” showbiz vets, also known as the “pride of East Texas,” is one of the hottest groups in the South today. Entering and winning the largest Doo Wop contest ever held in Las Vegas gave them a recording contract with Memory Lane West in Las Vegas. Shake, Rattle & Roll have had their songs playing across the country on XM satellite radio. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs and blankets.
• Classic Movies in the Park — Classic Movies in the Park will bring the Christmas classic “A Holiday Affair” to the big screen at dusk at Reagan Park. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs and blankets. Admission is free.
• Christmas Parade of Lights — The Christmas Parade of Lights is set for 7 p.m. The parade begins as the Anderson County Courthouse, heads down Avenue A to West Oak, to Queen Street and back up Crawford Street to the historic courthouse.
• Christmas at the Coursthouse — Let the spirit of Christmas embrace you as the historic Anderson County Courthouse comes alive with family activities, a hot beverage kiosk sponsored by Cream & Coffee, a photo opportunity with Santa and other holiday fun at 8 p.m., following the Christmas parade.
• Community Chorus Concert — The Anderson County Community Chorus & Orchestra will presents its 10th anniversary show “Sounds of Music” in two performances at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Palestine High School Auditorium. Admission is free.
A complete list of holiday events and activities can be found at www.visitpalestine.com or contact the Visitor Center at 903-723-3014.
Herald-Press Staff Writer Grace Gaddy contributed to this report.