By TEDDYE SNELL
Area residents looking to boost their holiday spirits have plenty of opportunities this season. Many are right here in Tahlequah, while others are just a short drive to Fort Gibson, Wagoner, Muskogee or Tulsa.
Several local events are scheduled for this weekend, including the Tahlequah Middle School Parent-Teacher Organization’s annual fundraiser, Breakfast with Santa, 7-9:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at Chili’s. Breakfast includes pancakes, bacon and a beverage, and cost is $5 for adults who donate a non-perishable food item, or $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Santa will be on hand for pictures for a nominal fee, and the event features a silent basket auction.
That evening, Hulbert will host its first Christmas parade, beginning at 6 p.m., featuring the theme “Old-Fashioned Christmas.” Trico Blue will perform Christmas carols, and the Santa will make an appearance.
“We felt like a parade would really help bring our close-knit community even closer,” said Shirley Teague, Hulbert mayor. “Town pride is an extremely important thing to Hulbert.”
On Sunday, Dec. 9, First United Methodist Church’s bell choir will perform during services at 10:40 a.m. The church is on the corner of Cherokee and Delaware.
Also Sunday, the Tahlequah Branch of American Association of University Women will host its annual Homes for the Holidays tour, from 1-5 p.m.
This year, the tour features the homes of NSU President Dr. Steve and Penny Turner, 526 Seminary Ave.; Stephen and Cami Highers, 726 Meadows Circle; Shannon and Patti Buhl, 513 Kingston Place; Shaun Shepherd, 645 Kingston Place and 17636 Pecan Creek Circle; Cordelia Dixon with Blue Fern Bed and Breakfast, 224 Chickasaw St.; and Vintage on Main, 104 N. Muskogee Ave. Tickets are $8 in advance at Vintage on Main, Kate Miller Optometry, Meigs Jewelry, Oasis Health Foods, Sequoyah Institute, Donna’s Flowers and Designs and TTCU; or $10 at the door. For more information, call (918) 458-2075.
Those looking to take a trip back in time may want to visit the historic Murrell Home on Sunday, as the 12th annual Christmas Open House will be 1-5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9. Visitors can learn about the holidays as they were celebrated during the Victorian era. Friends of the Murrell Home will sponsor a reception with refreshments. The open house is free, and donations are accepted. For more information, call (918) 456-2741.
On Sunday, Dec. 16 First United Methodist Church will present Handel’s “Messiah,” during morning services at 10:40, under the direction of Don Studebaker.
A short drive away is the Fort Gibson Historic Site, which will provide visitors a glimpse of life at the fort in the year 1848 this Saturday, Dec. 8, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required, and the cost is $8 per person.
“We’re hosting candlelight tours, and re-enactors will be here scattered throughout the site, telling stories about what life – and the holidays – were like in 1848,” said site greeter Dorsey Herzog. “The tours take about 50 minutes, and visitors will be treated to refreshments, a chance to sit by the fireplace and listen to chamber music at the end.”
For more information about the Fort Gibson “Christmas 1848” candlelight tours, call (918) 478-4088.
Parade-lovers will have another opportunity to enjoy bands, floats, and twinkling lights, as Wagoner will host its Christmas parade tonight, beginning at 7. This year’s theme is “Holiday Traditions,” and all float entries will feature lights.
Wagoner Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Meredith Zehr invites local residents to participate in a number of events at the Wagoner Civic Center, 301 S. Grant Ave.
“We have sponsors, so admission to all the events is $2, and all performances begin at 7:30 p.m.” said Zehr. “One of the performers, Taria, a female singer, is very good and has been the opening act for a number of big stars. We hope members from surrounding communities will take advantage of the programs we’re offering this Christmas.”
Featured performers include the Swon Brothers, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 6-7; the Wagoner Community Choir, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14-15; Taria, Tuesday, Dec. 18; the Cherokee National Youth Choir, Friday, Dec. 21; and Mary Kay and Brad Henderson, Saturday, Dec. 22. For more information, call (918) 485-5409.
Muskogee is offering its fair share of holiday happenings, including an annual favorite for many: the Garden of Lights, which runs through New Year’s Day. Honor Heights Park, at Honor Heights Drive and N. 48th St. in Muskogee, comes alive each evening at dusk, as over one million twinkling Christmas lights greet visitors who drive through the park.
The Castle of Muskogee, 3400 W. Fern Mountain Road, also hosts a drive-through wonderland, “Christmas Kingdom,” featuring over 2,000 holiday inflatable displays beginning at dusk. The display runs through Dec. 31, and provides visitors an opportunity to visit with Father Christmas, plus a chance to see Santa’s workshop.
Those who cross the Arkansas River may want to take advantage of Muskogee County Transit’s Christmas Lights Trolley Tour, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the year, and features live music with the tour. Tickets are $5 for adults and children under 12 ride for free. For more information, call (918) 682-1721.
First Baptist Church of Muskogee is hosting a Christmas Village through Saturday, Dec. 8. Doors open at 6 each evening, and the event features food, crafts, family photos and more.
The Tulsa area also abounds with holiday opportunities, including Winterfest, which runs through Sunday, Jan. 6, at the BOK Center. The free event includes lights, live music and skating.
If Christmas lights are your thing, you may not want to miss the spectacle at Rhema Bible Church, 1025 W. Kenosha, in Broken Arrow. This is the 30th year for the display, which began with about 60,000 lights in 1982, and has grown to include two million this season. According to the church’s website, the Christmas Lights Extravaganza is expected to draw more than 200,000 visitors from Oklahoma and surrounding states. The event is free, but carriage rides through the campus are available for a fee. For more information, visit www.rhemabible church.com.
The Tulsa Performing Arts Center is also hosting a number of holiday events, including Tulsa Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 8-22; “A Christmas Carol, Dec. 6-23; and Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Dec. 28-30. For ticket information or reservations, visit www.tulsa pac.com.
The Philbrook Museum of Art will host the Tulsa Camerata “Winter Winds,” Thursday, Dec. 13, from 7-9:30 at the museum, 2727 S. Rockford Road. The concert will feature chamber music for wind instruments, including a performance of Johannes Brahms’ “Trio of Horn, Violin and Piano.” For more information, visit tulsacamerata.org.