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Texas State Parks Celebrate The Holiday Season
AUSTIN, Texas — For those who prefer Texas history, colorful traditions and the occasional outdoor setting for holiday festivities, Texas state parks are offering a variety of special events and opportunities for the public during the 2007 holiday season.
Christmas was a very special time for the sailors and officers who served aboard Battleship TEXAS, and the Battleship TEXAS State Historic Site near Houston is inviting the public to celebrate the way the crew members who served aboard her did while serving their country.
The site will be hosting Yuletide Texas throughout the month of December, complete with hundreds of lights, ornaments and decorations in the spirit of the season. The cost is free for Texas State Parks Pass members, $10 for non-members, $5 for senior citizens and children 12 and under are free.
Visitors can step back in time to an 1850s Christmas festival at the Barrington Living History Farm at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site near Brenham. Located at Anson Jones’ home, the public is invited to participate in taffy pulling, 1850s crafts, games, hay wagon rides and Chuck wagon cooking Dec. 8. Live music will also be provided by the Grammy-nominated Celtaire String Band. The event will be from 1-8 p.m. and the cost is $2 for Texas State Parks Pass members, $6 for non-members, $4 students and free for children six and under.
Estero Llano Grande State Park near Weslaco, one of the newest additions to the state park system, will be celebrating the Christmas season with Breakfast with the Birds and Santa Dec. 15. Texans of all ages are encouraged to enjoy breakfast on a magnificent covered deck situated right on one of their lakes and take some time to visit with Santa.
Afterwards, Santa’s elves — knowledgeable park naturalists — will be conducting a guided nature walk through the park. Breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. and reservations are required. For additional information call (956) 565-3919 or visit http://www.worldbirdingcenter.org.
A longstanding Christmas tradition continues in the Hill Country region with the 38th Annual Tree Lighting at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site. Throughout the evening refreshments will be served and the public is welcome to enjoy a live nativity, carolers and Santa Claus, as well as the tree lighting. Later, get a taste of history as the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farm will provide cookies amid glowing lanterns and a traditional German Christmas tree. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. on Dec. 16.
Other special holiday events at Texas state parks include:
Through Dec. 24 — Candlelight Christmas Dinners — Starr Family State Historic Site — Marshall, Harrison County — Pineywoods
By advance reservation, Starr Family State Historic Site will again offer their annual catered Candlelight Christmas Dinners for group and individual bookings. Vocalists serenade guests with beautiful Christmas melodies while costumed hosts/hostesses serve dinner at the beautifully restored Blake Home.
Following dinner and music, guests will follow a beautifully lit pathway through the grounds to tour the magnificent Starr Mansion. Tickets are $28 per person, including dinner, entertainment and the tour. Reservations for small groups and couples can be accommodated through the evening of Dec. 24. Proceeds go towards preserving the rich heritage of the park for future generations. Phone the site for available dates and details at (903) 935-3044.
Dec. 1 — Simple Christmas — Brazos Bend SP — Needville, Fort Bend County — Gulf Coast
Escape the hustle and bustle of the season. Enjoy an afternoon and evening of the simple life: making s’mores, Dutch oven cooking, piñatas, hayrides plus a visit from a "Southern Santa." Bring a picnic supper to enjoy while you listen to the sounds of The Brazos River Pickers, an old-time, bluegrass band at the outdoor amphitheater. Refreshments available. 3-7 p.m. (979) 553-5101
Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15 — Trail of Lights — Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery SHS — LaGrange, Fayette County — Prairies and Lakes
Enjoy a fantastic quarter-mile trail illuminated with thousands of lights that decorate the Monument Hill and Kreische House portions of our park. Walk a trail overlooking the town of La Grange. Experience the more traditionally decorated 1850s-era German home of H.L. Kreische, bedecked in Christmas splendor, in a Texas-German style. Bring your children to tell secrets to Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and enjoy the genuine seasonal hospitality of the Friends of Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery, who sponsor the event. Get into the season’s spirit with us! 6-8 p.m.; fees $3 adults, $1 children 3-12; (979) 968-5658
Dec. 8 — Christmas Caroling Hayride — Stephen F. Austin SP — San Felipe, Austin County, Prairies and Lakes
Enjoy caroling through the park on a hayride, then share cookies and hot chocolate afterwards. 6-8 p.m.; admission is one canned good per person (979) 885-3613
Dec. 8 — Pancake Breakfast with Santa — Stephen F. Austin SP — San Felipe, Austin County — Prairies and Lakes
Join Santa for a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee and let him know all your dreams for this Christmas. 8-10 a.m.; fee $4 per person (979) 885-3613
Dec. 8 — Candlelight Christmas — Barrington Living History Farm-Washington-on-the-Brazos SHS — Washington, Washington County — Prairies and Lakes
Come share a traditional Christmas with the Jones family at their annual gathering of friends and neighbors. Enjoy a festive atmosphere with a sampling of 1850s crafts, games, music and dancing. Wassail and cookies will be served. 1-8 p.m.; fees: $2 Texas State Parks Pass members, $6 non-members, $4 students, free for children 6 and under. (936) 878-2213
Dec. 8 — Caroling Through Penn Farm — Cedar Hill SP — Cedar Hill, Dallas County — Prairies and Lakes
We will begin the evening with a lantern lit tour of Penn Farm then have a Christmas carol sing-along around the campfire. Afterwards we will enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. 6-7:30 p.m.; call to confirm program (972) 291-3900, ext. 232
Dec. 15 — Holiday Celebration — Martin Dies, Jr. SP — Jasper, Jasper County — Pineywoods
Join us for a fun-filled afternoon of activities and music. At 2 p.m. we will hold our Annual Gingerbread House Design and Construction Marathon, with the Friends of Martin Dies, Jr. State Park supplying all supplies to create truly unique creations. At 4 p.m. we will have a festive sing-along live-band concert of seasonal songs and hymns. All activities held in the Dining Hall. 2-5 p.m.; call for more information (409) 384-5231
Dec. 15 — Holidays with Nature — Sheldon Lake SP — Houston, Harris County — Gulf Coast
Celebrate the holidays the wild(life) way! Join us in creating wildlife tree ornaments that can be taken home or put in a tree at park. Along with hot cocoa and apple cider, children can enjoy coloring and writing letters to Santa to receive a post card from Ole Saint Nick himself! 1-4 p.m. (281) 456-2800
Dec. 22 — Christmas Carols — Lake Texana SP — Edna, Jackson County — Gulf Coast
Celebrate Christmas as we sing carols around the campfire. 6-7 p.m. (361) 782-5718
Dec. 22 — Santa Swingin’ 40s Christmas — Battleship TEXAS SHS — LaPorte, Harris County — Gulf Coast
Visit the Battleship TEXAS and enjoy the spirit of the holidays. Write and mail letters to Santa, see dancing to swing music performed live onboard, enjoy hot wassail, meet and have your picture taken with Santa and much, much more. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; fees free for Texas State Parks Pass members, $10 non-members, $5 senior citizens, free for children 12 and under (281) 479-2431
Dec. 22 — Christmas Crafts — Lake Texana SP — Edna, Jackson County — Gulf Coast
Make your own Christmas crafts to give or decorate your home. Held at the Nature Center. 2-3 p.m. (361) 782-5718
Dec. 22 — Campfire Program — Goose Island SP — Rockport, Aransas County — Gulf Coast
Join us at the Recreation Hall for an evening of food and fun as we get ready for Christmas with an old-fashioned campfire gathering. Bring your s’mores fixin’s and enjoy hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows as we share our favorite Goose Island holiday stories. 7-8 p.m. (361) 729-2858
Dec. 29 — Holiday Dinner — Landmark Inn SHS — Castroville, Medina County — Hill Country
A special candle-lit dinner served in a festive holiday atmosphere, catered by one of Castroville’s gourmet dining establishments. Seating is limited to 40 for this fundraising event, proceeds benefiting Friends of the Landmark Inn. 6:30-8:30 p.m.; fee $25 per person; reservations required, deadline December 22, 2007 (830) 931-2133
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