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Art&Seek Jr: Free Holiday Events To Lift Your Spirit
by Therese Powell 2 Dec 2014

Did Black Friday leave your wallet and your spirit a little depleted? No worries, the Junior has you covered with these FREE holiday events.

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Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

For me, shopping during the holidays is a complete beat down. I think they need an express lane in stores for customers who are just doing ordinary, everyday shopping and don’t wish to get swept away in holiday shopping mayhem.

Case in point, for some crazy reason I thought Friday would be an excellent day to “pop into” the local craft store for glue sticks for the hot glue gun. With all of the Thanksgiving excitement, the kids pulled several door knobs off the doors. I guess the idea of Santa being only three weeks away activates some sort of super-human strength in children. Anyway, when it got up to three broken doors, I decided a trip to the craft store was necessary. My naivete must have been working overtime Friday because I also thought it would be “fun” to take the kids along on my errand.

The craft store was bedlam. You’d think people were preparing for the apocalypse instead of the holidays. I swear I saw one employee in the dried flower section mouth the words “help me.” At one point, I got separated from the children only to find them testing whoopee cushions in the scrapbooking aisle. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity in a line that snaked around the store, I finally escaped the chaos with my glue sticks clutched triumphantly to my chest.

But the Black Friday madness wasn’t done with me yet. As we headed into the parking lot, and I was lighting into the kids about how testing whoopee cushions isn’t appropriate anywhere but their uncle’s house, I tripped over a parking lot stop and did a not-so-graceful dive into the asphalt — glue sticks, and all.

Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.

Don’t let the holiday madness get you down. Here are some ideas for FREE  fun that are guaranteed to put you back in the holiday spirit. 

Scrub those Black Friday memories from your brain and start the holiday season right with a small-town celebration. And there’s no better celebration than the 26th Annual Holiday Lighting Festival on Denton’s Historic Courthouse Square.  The event kicks off this Friday evening at 5:30 with a community sing-along and the lighting of the giant Christmas tree. You and the tinies can stroll around the courtyard and peek in the windows of the festive shops, or for few bucks, you can have your picture made with Santa. Or take a ride in a horse-drawn wagon. There will also be musical performances begining at 6 p.m. all around the Square.

Don we now our gay apparel! Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!  Photo: Therese Powell

Don your gayest apparel for the Dallas Children’s Health Holiday Parade. Photo: Therese Powell

For more small-town fun, head over to the annual Old Town Holiday Stroll in Lewisville on Saturday. The event starts with a Christmas Parade at 2 p.m., followed by a wide range of Holiday Stroll activities from 4 to 8 p.m. which include the city’s Christmas Tree Lighting, a Gingerbread House Contest, visits with Santa Claus, live music and my favorite, an elf scavenger hunt!

Cowtown also gets in the holiday spirit this Saturday with Christmas in the Stockyards. This free holiday event is centered on Western heritage activities that the entire family can enjoy.  Some of the activities that you and your little cowpokes will enjoy include a Christmas parade, pony rides, a visit from Cowboy Santa and, of course, the ever-popular armadillo races.

I can personally attest that Saturday’s annual Dallas Children’s Health Holiday Parade will put a smile on your face and jingle in your step. The event draws an estimated 350,000 spectators and includes marching bands, giant helium balloons, spectacular floats and unique performances. Our personal favorites are the clowns that entertain the crowds before the start of the parade.

Here are a few tips before you go: 1. Get there early. Parking can be challenging and all the good viewing areas get snapped up , so plan to arrive an hour and a half before the parade starts. 2. Bring blankets and lawn chairs to sit on (that pavement is cold on little tushies). 3. Lastly, it goes without saying, dress warmly – if the outside temperature reads 55, it’ll feel like 35 with the wind blowing.

After the parade, grab your tribe and mosey over to Klyde Warren Park for their family event, Celebrate the Holidays at Klyde Warren Park. The event is a collaboration, combining AT&T Performing Arts Center’s annual Reliant Lights Your Holidays event with the park’s annual family holiday event. The day-long festivities, include music, children’s activities, fireworks and a tree-lighting. Following the park’s tree-lighting at 5:45 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will lead the crowd to the AT&T Performing Arts Center where the Reliant Lights Your Holidays festivities will be under way. The fun starts at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

On the other hand, if you’re not the outdoorsy type, here are some inside options for yuletide cheer this weekend.

The Macy’s Grand Tree Lighting Celebration at Galleria Dallas is one of my favorite holiday events. Each show features live performances from Olympic, World and National skating champions and cute kids in pretty costumes performing around a 95-foot-tall Christmas tree. The 30-minute show leads up to the grand finale of Missile Toes, the Galleria’s ice-skating, back-flipping, pyrotechnic Santa Claus who lights the tree. Much like the parade, this is one of those things where it pays to be the early worm and get there way in advance. The show starts at 6 on Saturday night, but you’re going to want to have your claim staked by 5. The best viewing is from the 1st or 2nd level.

Scattered Lights is a different kind of holiday display. Photo: NorthPark Center

Scattered Lights is a different kind of holiday display. Photo: NorthPark Center

Speaking of malls, NorthPark also has a passel of free events that the tinies will love. Get to the mall early Saturday so you can catch Storytime with Santa at 10:30 a.m. Some mall Santas can be a little bit lame, but this Santa is the real deal. Besides having a genuine beard and a hearty laugh, he has a gentle manner with children that’s magical to watch.  After story time, hurry over to the Scrooge Puppet Theatre for a little comic relief from the famous Christmas curmudgeon.  This is Scrooge’s 37th year at NorthPark, but he always seems to add something new to his performance. If you find yourself at NorthPark during the nighttime hours, be sure to check out the Scattered Lights exhibit in the interior courtyard. The installation is by renowned artist Jim Campbell and was recently on view at Madison Square Park in New York City. It’s a three-dimensional work that features 1,800 dangling light bulbs that flicker into shadowy figures.It’s like no other lighting display you’ll see this season.

Be sure to check back next week for more family-friendly events.

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer.  She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 9-year-old daughter, Rose.  Tell us about your quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at [email protected].

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