Now that Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are behind us, we can finally talk about the white elephant in the room: Christmas!
The city of Lufkin is offering several events this year and is working in conjunction with other organizations to create Christmas in the Pines. It’s a chance for the community to celebrate together, according to Lauren Stacy, recreation superintendent for Lufkin Parks and Recreation. It’s also an opportunity to build tourism and make Lufkin a must-visit destination.
Multiple events are planned for Saturday including an appearance by Santa Claus for milk, cookies and selfies, street vendors and food trucks, live performances, a fire truck pull, a “very merry fitmas class” by Changing Lives Dance Center. The Pineywoods Jamboree will be at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at The Pines Theater.
But the highlight of the day comes at 6 p.m., when Brandon Belt and family flip the switch to light Rudolph the Red-Nosed Pumping Unit. The iconic Lufkin landmark lets Angelina County show its holiday spirit in a fun and unique way. It’s an enjoyable experience shared by the young and the young-at-heart.
■ The week’s festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday, when the city’s lighted Christmas parade winds its way through downtown. This year’s theme is a Hollywood Christmas, with parade participants encouraged to add a Christmas spin to their favorite movie and decorate their float accordingly.
■ The Lufkin Rotary Club’s Waffle Bake is always a hot — and tasty — ticket. The 63rd annual edition will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday in the Angelina College cafeteria.
Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door for adults, and children under 12 are $2 in advance and $3 at the door. There will be local entertainment each night and great raffle prizes.
■ The 25th annual Festival of Trees is underway at the Museum of East Texas, with more than 160 Christmas trees with various community themes set up in the museum at 503 N. Second St. It’s a can’t-miss exhibit for all East Texas families that will be open through the end of the year. And it’s free. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday but will stay open until 8 p.m. from Dec. 19-23. The next family day at the museum will be Dec. 15.
■ CASA of the Pines will host its annual Christmas Home Tour from 2:30-7 p.m. Thursday with five come-and-go locations. Tickets are available at Eventbrite; at the CASA of the Pines office, at 317 E. Shepherd Ave.; or at the homes or museum on the day of the tour.
■ A Texas Country Christmas Concert with entertainment from Parker Vinson, Sam Shupak and Bryan Harkness will be 6-10 p.m. Friday at the corner of First Street and Shepherd.
■ The Texas Forestry Museum will host the Santa Claus Express from 6-8 p.m. Friday. Families can drink hot chocolate, decorate sugar cookies, play games and take pictures with Santa Claus for $5 per person. For more information, call 632-9535 or visit treetexas.com.
■ An Evening in Old Bethlehem will be from 6-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the George H. Henderson Expo Center. Members of First United Methodist Church will recreate the marketplace in the city of Bethlehem to show how residents lived and worked at the time of Jesus’ birth.
That’s just in Lufkin for the first week of the month.
■ The city of Huntington will host two events this week — the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Park and the Christmas parade from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday. Contact Kristyn Wilkie at 876-4391 for information about the parade.
■ The Candy Cane Lane Holiday Bazaar is set for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Huntington High School.
■ The city of Diboll is hosting a Lumberjack Christmas celebration from 4-7:30 p.m. Monday at the Diboll ISD Administration Building. Diboll’s Hometown Christmas Festival will be from 3-9 p.m. Saturday in Old Orchard Park.
■ Texas Forest Country Retreat’s second annual festival, Christmas At Old Town Manning, is set for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
And there are a number of additional community events looking beyond this first week, including performances by children in area schools and day cares. A number of businesses also are offering children a chance to have breakfast with Santa.
■ First Christian Church will host a Drive-Thru Living Nativity from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 8-9. A Christmas Cantata is set for 11 a.m. Dec. 15.
■ Wreaths Across America 2019 will start at 11 a.m. Dec. 14 at Garden of Memories Memorial Park. The ceremony will be followed by the laying of wreaths on the graves of veterans. Monday is the deadline to sponsor a wreath. For more information: email firstname.lastname@example.org, text 674-7347 or send a message on the Angelina County Wreaths Across America facebook page.
■ The Angelina Arts Alliance is presenting two holiday-themed performances at the Temple Theater.
‘‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer the Musical’’ is at 7 p.m. Dec. 13. The performance is part of the Discovery Series, which features fun and educational programs for families.
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, featuring Lufkin native Hannah Roberts, will present its holiday concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17. The performance by the world-renowned orchestra is part of the Performing Arts Series.
We know there will be other Christmas events across our community in the days ahead. ’Tis the season of jolly and good cheer, after all.