The sights and sounds of the season fill our hearts with gladness, and the spectacle of the annual Arlington Holiday Lights Parade on Saturday will hit all the high notes for holiday pleasures. Entertainment and activities both before and after the parade will delight kids and grown-ups alike. The holidays will officially begin at the end of the parade when Santa and Mayor Jeff Williams turn on the lights adorning the beautiful 50-foot tree in front of City Hall.
Thousands of spectators will line the parade route with many setting up chairs and blankets hours ahead of the 6 p.m. start time. Parade watchers should plan ahead because there’s a new route this year due to the downtown construction.
“With a new parade route this year, we encourage everyone to arrive early, find a new favorite spot to watch the parade with family and friends, and make the most of our food trucks and pre-parade entertainment,” said Jeannie Deakyne from the parade committee.
The all-volunteer parade and festival committee is headed by Scott Reading and Elle Stubbs with help from Samantha Blackstock, Jonathan Januta, Misty Lockhart, Chris Pettitt and Mike Starnes to randomly name only a few.
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Maybe poor Rudolph didn’t play any reindeer games, but kids at the festival won’t experience that problem. Children will have a ball at the Reindeer Games area located near the Dream sculpture on Abram Street. And after working up an appetite from the nonstop action, manage the hunger pangs at any of the downtown restaurants or dine at the cadre of food trucks along Pecan and Oak Streets.
“With the addition of the kids craft and play area and the Levitt Pavilion’s movie for kids along with the parade itself — this is the best parade of our lifetime,” said Reading.
Around 80 or so entries including bands, marching units, dancers, scouts and cheerleaders will defy the dark and weave between illuminated floats and other specialized entries all emblazoned with lights and festive holiday decor.
The crowd will love Carlagio, a first-time entry from The Woodlands featuring a musical water fountain on wheels with dancing waters choreographed to classic Christmas songs.
“Carlagio was originally created for the Houston Art Car Parade,” said Chris Reinsvold, who is bringing the entry. “It took about two years to design and build. Our fountain looks best at night, and for the parade we added new performances that feature Christmas music and Christmas decorations.”
The Dallas Derby Devils will roll along the parade route revving up the crowd with their special entry. They are a world-class women’s flat track roller derby team.
“We will have a giant over-sized light-up skate on a trailer in the parade,” said Ashley Gill (aka Guillotine Grace), who is the captain of the Derby Devils All-Stars. “Not to mention rocking the classic Roller Derby Queen by Jim Croce. We will have about 14 skaters with lights in full uniforms and gear rolling alongside our float and interacting with the crowd — so be ready for lots of high-fives.” The all-star squad is ranked 14th in the world (www.derbydevils.com).
Local dance studio United Performing Arts is back for the eighth year of parade participation. “We believe in community service, building self-esteem, confidence and promoting the performing arts,” said studio owner Angie Meister. “Our float has boys and girls from age 2 and up that love to share the joy of the holiday together as well as their love and passion for dance.”
Continuous live entertainment at the Levitt Pavilion is scheduled from 2 to 6 p.m. Bring your camera to get pictures with Santa on the stage from 7:15 to 8 p.m., and don’t miss seeing a holiday favorite, Elf, shown on the big screen of the Levitt lawn.
A 2 p.m. the fun all-girls band Plato’s Theory will do a show featuring their unique sound followed at 3:15 p.m. by the wonderful performers from Miss Persis Studio doing their famous “Elf Show.” The Arlington Master Chorale will sing at 4 p.m., and back for an encore is Hannah Kirby, a finalist on an earlier season of The Voice. Kirby was a big hit at last year’s festival.
The new parade route begins at the parking lot of the UTA School of Social Work on the corner of Lampe and South streets and will proceed eastward on South Street to Pecan Street where it will turn north and head to Main Street. Turning westward on Main, the parade will continue to West Street and turn to the south proceeding toward Abram Street. The final leg on the route proceeds west on Abram ending in front of McDonald’s restaurant near South Cooper Street.
For the complete lineup and details, visit www.HolidayLightsParade.com.
- Winter Chill Festival is Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Viridian Lake Club, 1200 Viridian Park Lane. Guests will be greeted by a toy soldier stilt walker as they enter a winter wonderland packed with 120,000 pounds of snow. Additional activities will include sledding down a mountain of snow, train rides, browsing holiday vendors for gifts and having pictures taken with a “reinsteer.” County Fair Foods will serve up holiday treats and students from the Suzuki Strings at Viridian Elementary will perform, weather permitting. Admission is free. www.viridiandfw.com.
- A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marle opens at Theatre Arlington on Thursday and runs through Dec. 18. It is Charles Dickens’ classic tale of a cold-hearted and greedy life transforming into a generous and kind soul. This unique presentation of everyone’s favorite Christmas story will delight all ages from 4 to 104. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday performances are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Purchase tickets at the box office or online at www.TheatreArlington.org or call 817-275-7661.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. at St. John Lutheran Church, 1218 Debbie Lane. The show is presented by the Mainstage Classic Theatre in Mansfield. Tickets at www.MainstageClassicTheatre.org.