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Celebrate Holiday Season at a Texas State Park
AUSTIN, Texas — Vow this holiday season to start a new family tradition that celebrates the great outdoors and Texas history by visiting one of the more than a dozen Texas state parks and historic sites hosting special holiday events for all ages. From a Christmas sing-along around a woodland campfire to a pancake breakfast with Santa, the holiday spirit shines through at a park near you. And, don’t miss the 40th annual tree lighting celebration begun by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson in 1970.
Throughout the month of December, the Battleship TEXAS in La Porte and Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historic Site in La Grange invite visitors to step back in time to experience an old-fashioned holiday.
The interior and exterior of the historic battleship anchored at San Jacinto State Historic Site sparkle with holiday lights and ornaments during Yuletide TEXAS to honor the sailors of yesteryear who did their best to decorate the ship to make it feel more like home during the holidays away from family and friends. Accessible for wheelchairs on the Main Deck only. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (281) 479-2431.
Experience an Early German Christmas by strolling along the lighted quarter-mile trail overlooking the town of La Grange and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. nightly and visiting the festively decorated 1850s-era home of the late German entrepreneur H. L. Kreische for holiday entertainment and refreshments. The cost is $12 per person to enjoy the genuine seasonal hospitality of the Friends of Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery, event sponsors. Call for more information (979) 968-5658.
Other state park holiday events include the following:
November 28, 2009 — Lyndon B. Johnson SP&HS — Holiday Cookie Decorating and German Traditions — Have fun decorating cookies as it was done for a German Christmas tree in the 1900s at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm. Enjoy hearing the legend of St. Nicholas and experience other German holiday activities and traditions on the farm. Christmas shopping in the park gift store, and the other holiday traditions in the park and farm are sure to get you in the holiday spirit! Accessible for the mobility impaired. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (830) 644-2252.
December 5, 12, 2009 — Lake Mineral Wells SP & Trailway — Cross Timbers Cowboy Campfire Christmas — Bring the whole family to the Lone Star Amphitheater for a campfire program of cowboy music, poetry and sing-along with a Christmas theme. Accessible for the mobility impaired. 6-7:30 p.m. (940) 328-1171.
December 5, 2009 — Brazos Bend SP — Simple Christmas — Escape the hustle and bustle of the season and enjoy the simple life: making s’mores, Dutch oven cooking, children’s crafts, hayrides and more plus a visit from a "Southern Santa." Cap off the evening with "The Brazos River Pickers" old-time, bluegrass band. Refreshments available. Bring a picnic supper to enjoy while you listen to the performance at the outdoor amphitheater. Accessible for the mobility impaired. 3-7 p.m.; for more information, visit http://www.brazosbend.org. (979) 553-5101
December 5, 2009 — Tyler SP — Christmas Pine Ride — Sing carols as you ride through the park on a fragrant bed of pine enjoying all the sights and sounds along the way! And don’t miss the opportunity to pick up some unusual Christmas gifts at the park store, while enjoying hot apple cider and cookies. 5-8 p.m. (903) 597-5338.
December 11-13, 2009 — Buescher SP — Holiday in the Woods Campsite Decorating Contest — Bring your decorations and celebrate the holidays at the park! Decorate your site with lights and other seasonal items. We’ll award prizes in two categories: Rangers’ Choice and Campers’ Choice. Join us in starting this new holiday tradition. Accessible for the mobility and hearing impaired. (512) 237-2241.
December 11-12, 2009 — Cooper Lake SP/Doctors Creek Unit — 3rd Annual Christmas in the Park — Load up the family for a drive through the park and enjoy the holiday decorations. We will also have refreshments and Santa will be here for a visit and pictures. Sponsored by The Friends of Doctor’s Creek. 6-10 p.m. For more information, call the Friends of Doctor’s Creek at (903) 395-4314 or the park at (903) 395-3100.
December 12, 2009 — Barrington Living History Farm-Washington-on-the-Brazos SHS — An Old-Fashioned Texas Christmas — Christmas, a time for gathering with family and friends, for singing carols around the open fire, for making surprises tucked away in pretty packages, for feasting on goodies made with love and for making wonderful memories. Join the Barrington Farm staff as we celebrate the special season with many more surprises to come. Accessible for the mobility impaired. Noon-6 p.m.; fees $2 Texas State Parks Pass members, $7 non-members, $5 children 12 and under (936) 878-2214, ext. 246.
December 12, 2009 — Battleship TEXAS SHS — A Sailors Christmas — Come join us for a truly unique Christmas experience! Step back in time to December 1941 when TEXAS was off the coast of Canada and a local fishing village was invited aboard for a special holiday event. Send a Morse code message to the North Pole, make your very own ornament, listen to the sounds of the season with live performances by area bands and have your picture taken with Santa. You can also tickle your sweet tooth with hot chocolate, wassail, and cookies while you warm up in the Wardroom. Wheelchair accessible on Main Deck only. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; fees free Texas State Parks Pass members, $10 non-members, $5 senior citizens, free for children 12 and under (281) 479-2431.
December 12, 2009 — Lake Texana SP — Christmas Crafts — Come to the Nature Center and make crafts from natural materials to decorate with for the holidays. 2 p.m. (361) 782-5718
December 12, 2009 — Lake Texana SP — Caroling Around the Campfire — Join in as we sing carols to celebrate the season. 6 p.m. (361) 782-5718.
December 12, 2009 — Martin Dies, Jr. SP — Gingerbread House Building — Join us in constructing a gingerbread house, complete with candy accents! Decorate a gingerbread man ornament and sing Christmas songs with a live band. All materials supplied by the park. 2-4 p.m. (409) 384-5231.
December 12, 2009 — Sheldon Lake SP — Wildlife Christmas in the Park — Bring the family to make special ornaments designed for wildlife. Fruit wreaths, seed cones, and other special ornaments can be hung outside as a special treat for backyard wildlife. There will be a special tree in the park that ornaments can be hung on. Holiday music and treats will be provided. Accessible for the mobility, visually and hearing impaired. 1-4 p.m. (281) 456-2800
December 12, 2009 — Washington-on-the-Brazos SHS — Christmas up in Washington — Experience the magic of the holiday season with a candlelight visit to Independence Hall, the Birthplace of Texas. Enjoy caroling in the Visitor Center while shopping for those special gifts in the Washington Emporium. Afterward, stroll down a candlelit trail to Independence Hall, and enjoy stories of Washington’s past and learn how the residents of Washington would have celebrated the holiday season. Discover the holiday traditions at Washington-on-the-Brazos they just might become yours as well. This special program will be an ongoing experience from 6-7:30 p.m. Accessible for the mobility impaired. (936) 878-2214.
December 12, 19, 2009 — Huntsville SP — Ornamental Wildlife — Join us at the Nature Center to learn about the wildlife that calls the park home. Be prepared to use your imagination and creativity to create your very own ornaments of those animals to decorate the Nature Center and your home! Accessible for the mobility impaired. 11:30 a.m.-noon December 12 and 1:30-2 p.m. December 19 (936) 295-9010. (936) 295-5644.
December 15, 2009 — Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center — Christmas on the Border — Join staff and volunteers in celebrating the holiday season in West Texas border fashion. Local community performers will provide the entertainment. Refreshments and treats will be served and Santa Claus will make a special visit for the children. Accessible for the mobility and visually impaired. 6:30-9 p.m. (432) 424-3327.
December 17, 2009 — Fort Leaton SHS — Posada at Fort Leaton — Come experience the Posada as it was many years ago on the Texas Border! 6:30-9:30 p.m. (432) 229-3613
December 19, 2009 — Purtis Creek SP — Christmas Movie Night — Bring your chairs and blankets and enjoy a campfire and movie "The Polar Express" under the stars. Hot chocolate provided. Accessible for the mobility impaired. 7:30 p.m. (903) 425-2332.
December 19, 2009 — Stephen F. Austin SP — Christmas Caroling Hayride — 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
December 19, 2009 — Stephen F. Austin SP — Pancake Breakfast with Santa — Join Santa for a breakfast of pancakes with homemade syrup, sausage, juice and coffee and let him know all your dreams for this Christmas. 8-10:30 a.m.; fee $4 per person (979) 885-3613.
December 20, 2009 — Lyndon B. Johnson SP&HS — 40th Annual Tree Lighting — Come join the Texas Hill Country community in this special tradition started 40 years ago by President and Mrs. Johnson. Enjoy carolers, a live nativity, Santa Claus, refreshments and of course, the spectacular tree lighting. Then step back in time to the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm for cookies amid glowing lanterns and a traditional candlelit German Christmas tree. LBJ Park Bookstore and Gift Shop will be open and many other things to help you get into the holiday spirit. Dress for the weather and bring a flashlight. Some areas accessible for the mobility impaired. 6-10 p.m.; donations accepted (830) 644-2252.
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