Palmetto Parent 2010 December Issue : Page 16

Making memories Story by Chris Worthy So much to do, so little time: December is full of ways to celebrate the holidays with your family W ith so many holiday events happening in the Midlands, families may find their biggest challenge lies in finding enough days to do them all. December is a wonderful time to continue family traditions or start new ones by making memories at one of the many upcoming programs. Start with pre-Christmas activities to set the holiday mood, throw in a little adventure and end the year with family fun. Best of all, there are plenty of options to suit all ages. Here are a few of the events set to capture your family’s holiday spirit. New Year’s Winter Carnival Round out the year with a family eve-ning at Finlay Park – and still have time for a date night to ring in the New Year. The City of Columbia’s New Year’s Winter Carnival is 4 – 9 p.m. Dec. 31 at Finlay Park. The event has been a tradition for more than 15 years, according to Special Events Coordinator Kim Mitchell. “It’s family-friendly event,” she said. “It gives parents an opportunity to spend New Year’s Eve with their children.” The festival includes karaoke, carni-val rides, face painting, food and drink vendors, and a warming tent in case the 16 Palmetto Parent evening is chilly. No alcohol is allowed. “It’s for all ages,” Mitchell said. “There’s a little something for everybody to do. Even the teens who get dragged along because of little brother or sister will have something to do.” Line dancing will be part of the enter-tainment, Mitchell said. It has become a favorite part of the evening for children. “The kids get to drag the parents up,” she said. Children and teens from across the city will perform throughout the evening. Performances are expected to include step, www.palmettoparent.com dance, music and vocal performance. “We try to involve kids and give them a venue to showcase their talent,” Mitchell said. “What child doesn’t like to show off? We look for kids who can do all sorts of things.” Though many of the performers are found through their participation at city parks, Mitchell said parents should contact her if their child is interested in showcasing a talent. If you go: Admission is free, but there is a small charge for rides. For details or to inquire about performing at the carnival, call 545-3117. December 2010 ROBERT CLARK PHO TOGRAPHY

Making Memories

Chris Worthy

<font size=3>So much to do, so little time: December is full of ways to celebrate the holidays with your family</font><br /> <br /> With so many holiday events happening in the Midlands, families may find their biggest challenge lies in finding enough days to do them all. December is a wonderful time to continue family traditions or start new ones by making memories at one of the many upcoming programs. <br /> <br /> Start with pre-Christmas activities to set the holiday mood, throw in a little adventure and end the year with family fun. <br /> <br /> Best of all, there are plenty of options to suit all ages.<br /> <br /> Here are a few of the events set to capture your family’s holiday spirit.<br /> <br /> <b>The Lights Before Christmas</b><br /> Riverbanks Zoo offers Columbia a rare experience with snow, along with dazzling lights and so much more. The Lights Before Christmas runs nightly, except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, through Jan. 2. The event is much more than the name implies.<br /> <br /> “It snows every single night in several locations,” Riverbanks Zoo spokesperson Lindsay Burke said. <br /> <br /> Snow machines throughout the zoo bring an added touch to the animated light displays located around every turn, including such special displays as the Music in Motion Lights Spectacular, a 10-minute show choreographed to music. The program repeats throughout the evening.<br /> <br /> “The focal point is a 20-foot tree that has 30,000 LED lights,” Burke said. <br /> <br /> While walking through the park, visitors can view the Holiday Card Walk, featuring oversized cards created by local schools. At the Jingle Bell Bonfire, hot cocoa will be available and visitors can try their hand at toasting marshmallows. <br /> <br /> The youngest visitors can hear seasonal stories read aloud in the Congo Classroom and then take time to visit with Santa.<br /> <br /> “Santa will be here every night through Dec. 23,” Burke said. <br /> <br /> Parents are asked to bring their own cameras for photos with Santa.<br /> <br /> Although there is plenty to see and do throughout the zoo, Burke said the event will take place after the bedtime of most animals, so plan on returning for a daytime visit to see them. <br /> <br /> Riverbanks Zoo is encouraging families to join in making Christmas a little greener by making the switch to energy efficient LED lights. Visitors can recycle their incandescent Christmas lights at the event. In return for each strand recycled, visitors receive a coupon for $3 off a strand of LED lights. There is a limit of five coupons per person.<br /> <br /> If you go: The Lights Before Christmas is 6 – 9 p.m. nightly through Jan. 2 at Riverbanks Zoo. The event is closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31. Admission is $8 each for adults and $6 each for ages 3 – 12. Zoo members receive free visits. Tickets are available online at www.riverbanks.org.<br /> <br /> <b>Holiday Lights on the River</b><br /> Holiday Lights on the River, the annual drive-through lights exhibit at Saluda Shoals Park, continues to grow into a varied event designed to appeal to all ages and interests. And this year, visitors are not confined to their cars.<br /> <br /> “We’ve had a lot of people ask over the years if there is a place where they can get out and walk,” said Lori Shaffer, Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission spokesperson. “We restored a wetland and put a boardwalk over it. So this year, all of our woodland critters (light displays) will be down there in the wetland and they can see the lights up close.”<br /> <br /> Visitors also will be able to take a hayride down to the Wetland Wonderland Walking Trail and walk along the Saluda Shoals Wetland Preserve. <br /> <br /> Those who prefer to drive through the two-mile loop of animated light displays will still find plenty to see, but for the more adventurous, the Winter Wonder Ride returns. The attraction debuted last year and it was a big hit, according to Shaffer. <br /> <br /> “It’s a downhill tubing experience,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun — like snow tubing but without the snow.”<br /> <br /> Instead, riders tube down a surface similar to that used by skiers for summer training. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall to ride alone, but smaller children are allowed to ride with their parents. <br /> <br /> In the week prior to Christmas, the park also hosts Nights of Wonder, including horse drawn carriage, train and hay rides, visits with Santa, marshmallow roasts and a craft room where children can make gifts for others. <br /> <br /> “That is the busiest time,” Shaffer said.<br /> <br /> If you go: Holiday Lights on the River is 6 – 10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31. The cost is $10 per car, $20 per 15-passenger van and $35 per bus. Other activities are in addition to lights admission. The Wetland Wonderland Walking Trail is open nightly. The cost, including a hayride, is $1 each. Winter Wonder Ride is open 6 – 10 p.m. Dec. 3 – 4, 10 – 11 and 17 – 23. The cost is $2 each per ride. Nights of Wonder activities are open Dec. 17 – 23. The cost for Nights of Wonder activities are $1 – $5 each. For details, call 772-1228 or visit www.icrc.net.<br /> <br /> <b>The Snow Queen</b><br /> The Columbia Marionette Theatre is bringing Hans Christian Anderson’s classic, “The Snow Queen,” to life in a most unique way.<br /> <br /> “It’s a brand new show,” Cooper Hill, the theatre’s business and marketing manager said. “Jason Laramee, one of our puppeteers, wrote a script from the classic fairytale.”<br /> <br /> No detail is spared, with the “actors” and scenes all springing from the minds of local artists.<br /> <br /> “Lyon Hill, our artistic director, is making the puppets,” Hill said. “When we make a new show, everything is made in house — the puppets, the sets, everything.”<br /> <br /> The seasons and their rhythms play a vital role in the story, one that is reflected in the theatre’s production.<br /> <br /> “It will be a very original kind of set,” Hill said. “It’s going to be a magical setting, a forest that changes with the seasons. Each of the seasons has a princess or witch that controls the season. The winter queen is evil and wants to be all powerful — she wants winter to rule the seasons.”<br /> <br /> The production is a break from the traditional Christmas events, but it is still designed to appeal to families.<br /> <br /> “The cool thing about this show is that it isn’t the typical Santa Claus theme,” Hill said. “It embraces all of winter. You can feel the warmth of your family with you.”<br /> <br /> Hill said the show’s imagery reflects an appreciation for the warmth of family. And she said new visitors may be surprised by what they find in this original production.<br /> <br /> “This is actually an art form and kids just really love to be a part of that,” she said. “With the winter theme and the crystals and snow, it’s going to have a magical feeling.”<br /> <br /> If you go: “The Snow Queen” is presented at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 and 18 and at 10 a.m. Dec. 20 and 27. Admission is $5 each. For more information, visit www.cmtpuppet.org.<br /> <br /> <b>The Columbia Christmas Pageant</b><br /> In what has become a Christmas tradition for many Midlands families, First Baptist Columbia’s 23rd Annual Columbia Christmas Pageant brings music, drama and much more to the stage.<br /> <br /> “They’re going to be enthralled with the overall production,” Media Minister Sylvia Rish said. <br /> <br /> The event includes as many as 500 performers of all ages. It opens with what Rish said is the more secular version of the show. <br /> <br /> “That transitions us into what the real meaning of Christmas is about,” she said. <br /> <br /> The story of Jesus’ birth, life and death is told through the second part of the production. Between the segments, Dawn Smith Jordan performs a slate of songs that Rish said have become audience favorites.<br /> <br /> The extensive production is the church’s gift of the season, Rish said. <br /> <br /> “It’s a wonderful gift that our church is able to give not just within the community, but the entire state,” she said. <br /> <br /> Though five live performances will be presented to as many as 20,000 in attendance, the show will reach an even wider audience when it is replayed on WLTX TV on Christmas Day. <br /> <br /> The pageant lasts approximately 90 minutes and pre-show entertainment will be offered as guests arrive. Free tickets are available through the church.<br /> <br /> “Tickets are required so we can make sure all 15,000 don’t show up for the same performance,” Rish said. <br /> <br /> The show is suited for all ages and many children are actually part of the production.<br /> <br /> “A family would feel comfortable here,” Rish said. “We call it a South Carolina tradition because we’ve got people who have not missed a year. It has become part of their family.”<br /> <br /> If you go: The Columbia Christmas Pageant is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10, at 2 and 5 p.m. Dec. 11 and at 4 p.m. Dec. 12. Free tickets are required. Call 217-3250 or visit www.firstbaptistcolumbia.com. The show will be aired on WLTX TV, Channel 19, on Christmas Day. Visit the church web site for details. <br /> <br /> <b>New Year’s Winter Carnival</b><br /> Round out the year with a family evening at Finlay Park – and still have time for a date night to ring in the New Year.<br /> <br /> The City of Columbia’s New Year’s Winter Carnival is 4 – 9 p.m. Dec. 31 at Finlay Park. The event has been a tradition for more than 15 years, according to Special Events Coordinator Kim Mitchell.<br /> <br /> “It’s family-friendly event,” she said. “It gives parents an opportunity to spend New Year’s Eve with their children.”<br /> <br /> The festival includes karaoke, carnival rides, face painting, food and drink vendors, and a warming tent in case the evening is chilly. No alcohol is allowed. <br /> <br /> “It’s for all ages,” Mitchell said. “There’s a little something for everybody to do. Even the teens who get dragged along because of little brother or sister will have something to do.”<br /> <br /> Line dancing will be part of the entertainment, Mitchell said. It has become a favorite part of the evening for children.<br /> <br /> “The kids get to drag the parents up,” she said. <br /> <br /> Children and teens from across the city will perform throughout the evening. Performances are expected to include step, dance, music and vocal performance. <br /> <br /> “We try to involve kids and give them a venue to showcase their talent,” Mitchell said. “What child doesn’t like to show off? We look for kids who can do all sorts of things.”<br /> <br /> Though many of the performers are found through their participation at city parks, Mitchell said parents should contact her if their child is interested in showcasing a talent. <br /> <br /> If you go: Admission is free, but there is a small charge for rides. For details or to inquire about performing at the carnival, call 545-3117.

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