Van Alstyne is Christmas Town, and Christmas Town offers times and places to celebrate the Christmas season with family and friends, sing along to wonderful music, watch fun movies, feel the thrill when Christmas tree lights are turned on for the first time, and take part or cheer for those in the yearly parade.
The Christmas Town committee, made up of volunteers from city departments and corporations, and other organizations around the town, have been busy for months now, planning and making Christmas Town a reality. Van Alstyne Community Development Corporation, City Hall and Keep Van Alstyne Beautiful have volunteers on the committee, and it is the CDC which is generously financing so much of the decorations and other expenses to make this year’s Christmas Town a truism. And KVAB and the city’s Public Works department are taking extra care with the downtown decorations.
The Christmas Town committee hasn’t thrown any ideas in the junk heap — saving a few for the 2020 Christmas season —but it has narrowed this year’s activities down to the next three Saturdays. Churches and schools have joined in with their special programs. And the city’s retail stores are filled with all sorts of merchandise that could count as Christmas gifts or decorations and which could help start new family traditions. Many of those will be open on those nights when special activities will be going on.
The first Christmas Town event will be tomorrow (Saturday) night’s Christmas Tree Lighting festivities at Dorothy Fielder Park in downtown. Involved this year will be Matt Nix, the youth minister at a church just a little south of Van Alstyne, Dean Wolfe, the Fierce Motions in Dance dancers, and a special group of carolers who will be bringing music before and after the tree lighting itself. Best of all, there will be good old-fashioned Christmas spirit and fellowship.
This all starts at 6 p.m., at Dorothy Fielder Park in downtown. but with the carolers welcoming people and the hot chocolate stirred to fulness before that, it can’t hurt to get there early. Lawn chairs can be a good idea for those who prefer not to stand at the park.
The Christmas Town committee has designated the Saturday following Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, 2020, as the date to again light up the Christmas tree next year.
Public Works has been busy hanging the Christmas Town banners around downtown and wrapping the Dorothy Fielder gazebo park’s trees in special Christmas lighting. They will soon be installing special decorations at the “Welcome to Van Alstyne” sign in front of the Valero convenience store. Meanwhile, KVAB will add Christmas to the similar sign across U.S. Highway 75 at the Kwik Check/McDonald’s convenience store complex, along with giving the Van Alstyne Public Library and other sites around town a Christmas look.
And soon, most of the vacant downtown store fronts will have windows sporting Christmas scenes and decorations. No lights, probably, as the buildings are vacant, but the owners have given the Christmas Town committee, through CDC, permission to paint their windows, CDC Executive Director Rodney Williams explained. Van Alstyne Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tiffany Chartier and her team will bring these windows to life through their artwork, and that’ll provide lots of places and spaces for family photos to happen.
On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Public Library will host the Christmas movie “The Grinch” and this, too, is free to the public. It starts at 5 p.m., with hot chocolate and popcorn to help movie-goers get even more into the holiday feel. The Christmas Town committee will have T-shirts available there, in both adult and children’s sizes, for purchase.
Then, on Dec. 14, the annual Christmas parade kicks off at 2 p.m. It lines up on North Waco, moves southward through town, then turns east and north again onto Main Street. There is lots more information at VanAlstyneChamber.org, including the form to fill out to enter a float, a walking group, live music or cars.
At the parade’s culmination, everyone gathers at the Gazebo for “Santa and The Kids” photos that’ll begin just as soon as the jolly man and his wife can get there and get settled in to greet the children. Those photos will be made available for downloading and printing within a week after the parade, and each parent will be given a card with instructions on how to download the keepsake photos. There will be no charge for those photos.
The Van Alstyne ISD bands are hosting several concerts during the Christmas season, and those are listed on the Van Alstyne is Christmas Town Facebook page.