Santa Claus, penguins and reindeer will kick off the holiday season in Mansfield this weekend.
The city-sponsored Hometown Holidays return to City Hall with some old favorites and new additions Friday night, followed by the 10th annual Hometown Holidays Parade down Main Street on Saturday afternoon.
Santa Claus will be on hand all Friday evening to talk to anyone who wants to share their list, and a pair of sledding hills will offer fun for everyone.
As long as they’re bringing in all that snow for sledding, the city decided to bring in some more to let the kids play in the “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” area, where they will continue to make snow throughout the event.
“”It’s supposed to be about 40 degrees, so it should be perfect for snowman building,” said Angie Henley, the city’s cultural arts/special events supervisor. “We’ll have twigs, scarves and hats for the snowmen. All they have to do is show up.”
Last year’s Hometown Holidays had its snow and ice supplied by Mother Nature, which set the event back a week and caused it to be down-sized from the original plans.
“We had a very small one because of the snow,” Henley said. “We’re coming out full-force this year. I think it’s going to be fantastic.”
The reindeer are mainstays at Hometown Holidays, but this year they will be joined by a complete petting zoo, Henley said. Another new addition will be the holiday market inside the nearby Mansfield Activities Center with 30 vendors selling crafts and giving visitors a place to get out of the cold.
The penguins from the Dallas Zoo will strut their stuff on stage at 7:30 p.m., along with performances from Roberta Tipps Elementary choir, Nancy Neal Elementary choir, Jubilate Children’s Choir, Family Dream Center and Palace Dance Center.
The biggest bang of the evening arrives at 6:30 p.m. with the lighting of the Christmas tree, followed by a fireworks show. Gogonzilla food truck will be on hand, too, plus other vendors selling carnival-type food and sweets.
The event is free, but the sledding hills cost $2-$3 and there is a fee for the food trucks. All other activities are free. There will be no ATM on site, so participants need to bring cash for food and to sled. Parents need to bring their own cameras to snap photos with Santa, too.
Hometown Holidays Parade
Fifty entries will line up Saturday afternoon for the 10th annual Hometown Holidays Parade, showing off their interpretation of the theme “Inside Santa’s Workshop.”
The non-profit Common Ground will be the parade’s grand marshal, plus bands from Mansfield and Summit high schools, horses, golf carts, Pickle Queens, dancers and Santa Claus bringing up the rear, said Andrew Binz, the city’s recreation superintendent.
The parade will start at St. Jude Catholic Church, 500 E. Dallas St., head east on Dallas Street, turn north on Main Street, then west on Oak Street, south on Smith Street, east on Broad Street, and north on Waxahachie Street to finish back at St. Jude.
Both events draw 3,000-plus people, more if the weather is nice, Henley and Binz said.
“It’s become an annual tradition for a lot of families,” Binz said. “It kicks off the holiday season and it’s a great way to put you in the holiday spirit.”