By CHERIL VERNON
If you are in the mood for Christmas, there’s no better place to be than Palestine this weekend.
A wide variety of events ranging from ice skating during Frost Fest in downtown Palestine, visiting Santa at Santa’s Workshop to taking a ride on the popular Polar Express™ event at the Texas State Railroad are planned this weekend.
In addition, the Palestine Community Theatre’s adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” at the Texas Theater and the Dogwood Jamboree’s Branson-like Christmas show at the Palestine Civic Center are all on tap today.
The public also can vote for their favorite Christmas tree at the Dogwood Garden Club’s Festival of Trees at the Palestine Mall and take part in the Palestine Main Street District’s Ladies Day Out shopping event.
“We’ve had hundreds of phone calls from people in the community calling to say how blown away they are in the last 10 to 20 years that they have lived in Palestine that so much is going on this weekend,” Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Meghan Hill said Thursday while helping set up the ice skating rink. “Its been a tremendous community effort throughout the city to put all of the events together.
“I hope it’s the first of many years where we add even more things for families to do and for people to come to Palestine to be a part of.”
Also as part of Frost Fest, the public has the rare opportunity today to tour seven historic Palestine homes as part of the “Hearth & Tinsel” Afternoon Tour of Homes in the Northside Historical District and the “Candlelight & Tinsel” Evening Tour in the Southside Historical District.
Home tour tickets will be available today at the Frost Fest event in downtown Palestine at any of following homes for the 2 to 4 p.m. afternoon tour: 922 N. Link St., 402 E. Kolstad St. and 310 E. Kolstad St. from 2 to 4 p.m.
Tickets will be available for the 5 to 7 p.m. evening tour at Frost Fest or at the following homes: 708 S. Sycamore St., 616 S. Sycamore St., 519 S. Royall St. and 405 E. Neches St. Tickets are $15 for one tour or $25 for both the afternoon and evening tour.
“The home owners are really enthusiastic. Several of them will be in period dress and some have made plans to serve gingerbread and wassail,” home tour organizer Anita Moronko said.
Things will kick off for Frost Fest today with the “Freeze Your Buns Run” one mile fun run starting at 9 a.m. by the ice skating rink at Spring and John Streets in downtown Palestine.
But the big event this weekend is the ice skating opportunity — especially in weather that doesn’t seem much like winter — where ice skating is normally not a possibility.
The synthetic ice skating rink will be located at the corner of Spring and John Streets in downtown Palestine and open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The price for one hour of skating will be $10 for all ages and will include skate rental.
Throughout the day, entertainment is planned near the ice skating rink, including: The Academy of Dance, noon to 12:15 p.m.; Westwood Elementary School music class, 12:15 to 1 p.m.; Sacred Heart Singers, 3:15 to 3:30 p.m.; Palestine High School Drill Team, 4 to 4:15 p.m.; and Mary Lou Audas School of Dance from Gladewater, 5 to 5:30 p.m.
Cars of Palestine will have antique cars on display from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Local artisans will demonstrate their talents, including a blacksmith and local historian and quilter Carol Herrington, who will be dressed Victorian — which fits with the “Vintage holiday in the Pineywoods” theme. A quilting display will be set up at the Redlands building.
Other activities on Saturday near the ice skating rink area include inflatables for the kids and the “Snowball Café,” which will offer hot chocolate and wassail all day.
A self-guided downtown walking tour will show off the area. For those that just want to sit and watch, “Frosty’s Mug” Beer Garden will be open.
Santa’s Workshop will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the corner of Oak and Magnolia Streets in downtown Palestine, not far from the ice skating rink. Admission is $5. Volunteers photographers will be taking the pictures of the children with Santa, at a cost of $5 each for a 5x7 size photo.
The Texas State Railroad Palestine Depot’s Polar Express™ can bring the “Polar Express™” book and movie alive for children of all ages.
Read along with the story as the train makes a roundtrip journey to the North Pole. Meet Santa and enjoy caroling, hot chocolate and a treat. A special gift will be presented for each child.
Rides are planned at 3:45 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:10 p.m. today. For more information and to reserve tickets, call 1-888-987-2461.
The Dogwood Jamboree’s A Country Christmas” production is set for 7 p.m. today at the Palestine Civic Center.
Highlighting the entertainment for the show will be The Hall Brothers from Houston, who are known for the renditions of songs by famous groups such as The Statler Brothers, The Oakridge Boys, The Gatlin Brothers and Alabama.
Also performing during the Dogwood Jamboree are Joe Hancock, Tammy Bostick, Hal Roper, “Flo,” Sissy Perry, George Lester, Chloe Collins and Manuel. Making a special appearance will be Santa Claus.
In addition, four young singers under the age of 18 will vie for the title of 2012 Talent Search Artist of the Year at tonight’s Dogwood Jamboree show. Finalists include: Allison Sanchez, 11, of Palestine; Abby Clark, 14, of Elkhart; Taylor Heard, a senior at Omaha High School; and Casey Henderson, 18, of Jacksonville.