For Dalton Blaylock, Christmas in the Park at Liberty City has become an essential part of the spirit of the holiday season.
Granted, volunteers put in hundreds of hours throughout the year, long before Christmas, in order to be ready for the attraction’s Thanksgiving debut at Hugh Camp Memorial Park.
“We’re looking pretty good this year,” the lead organizer says, “got a lot done in September and October as far as repairs and everything.
“We don’t have anything new – just the general excitement of it, bringing back the Christmas experience, the holiday spirit, getting everybody in the mood, the joy it brings to the kids.”
The crew began hanging this year’s decorations in early November. Though there aren’t any added features in the collection, Blaylock said, the old favorites will be there shining into the night.
The winter wonderland off Old Hwy. 135 runs Nov. 23 through New Year’s Eve, open for visitors from dark to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
Sabine High School alum Dana Joyner founded the twinkling driving tour as a junior in 1997, and it’s persisted for more than two decades with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights strung throughout the park – around trees and bridges, on buildings and fencing.
“Thousands of cars from all over Texas and some from Louisiana as well drive through while the lights are all on,” the organizers say. “The most important fact is all this is free to the public.”
Donor-supported, Christmas in the Park has four core volunteers, and they’re grateful for any help to get the attraction ready to go.
“The lights alone require about 300 man-hours for installation,” Blaylock noted. “Cleaning and repair, you’re look probably at about 300 to 500. When you add fundraisers and stuff like that on, throughout the whole year you’re looking at close to 1,000 man-hours.”
Interested helpers can reach Blaylock at 903-808-0803 or online through the “Christmas in the Park at Liberty City” Facebook page.
Friday and Saturday nights in December also feature visits from Santa Claus, waiting with a candy cane for each child who comes by with some Christmas wishes. Check the Facebook page for updates on the Jolly Old Elf’s schedule, Blaylock noted.
“We’re looking forward to a good year. Hopefully it won’t be as rainy as last year.”