With a multitude of events planned, the coming days are shaping up to be a Holiday Extravagazna

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Nov 28, 2007 - With the holidays fast approaching, daily calendars are filling up quickly with Christmas activities, and the downtown merchants, area civic clubs and many others have a variety of activities slated this weekend to really get the season off with a bang.

Thursday: Elvis and Lights of Life

On Thursday, there will be a fundraiser for the three main groups responsible for helping cash-strapped parents provide Christmas gifts for their children as well as the annual Lights of Life Tree Lighting celebration at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.

At 6 p.m., 14-year-old Elvis impersonator Joshua Davis and ventriloquist Terry Cunningham will perform at the VFW Hall. Tickets are $5 for one adult with one child, and $2 for each additional child. Proceeds from the Sulphur Springs Antique Auction, City National Bank and Roger Reeve- sponsored event will be divided among the Blue Santa, Empty Stocking and Angel Tree programs that help provide Christmas for children in less fortunate families.

The Lights of Life Tree Lighting Ceremony will also be held Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in front of Hopkins County Memorial Hospital. The lights on the Christmas trees will be turned on to serve as a shining beacon of remembrance, as each light on the tree was made with a $25 donation in  honor or memory of others. As a special treat, Santa will be on hand to greet children and help light the tree. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served in the hospital lobby by hospital volunteers, and Johnnie Masters Gift Shop will be open for Christmas shopping. Sulphur Springs High School Jazz Band, SSHS Varsity Choir, local physicians and a children’s choir will provide holiday music, along with the Sulphur Springs Middle School and High School Strings Ensemble. Lights of Life is sponsored by the Hopkins County Health Care Foundation. For more information or to make a donation for a light honoring someone, contact Jackie Thornton at 903-438-4799.

Friday: Christmas on the Square, Christmas in the Park, Hospice Fiesta and The North Pole of Texas

Friday kicks off Christmas on the Square as well as Christmas in the Park, Hospice Holiday Fiesta and the North Pole of Texas.

Hopkins County Historical Society’s Christmas in the Park will include an evening full of live music amid the historic atmosphere at Heritage Park, which will be decked out in holiday cheer. There will be even more lights this year as well as antique light posts. Santa will be dropping by to visit with kids. Samples of old fashioned hot cider, hot cocoa and cookies will be available to help ward away the chill of the winter night. the Sulphur Springs High School band will be performing Friday night, while carolers stroll the grounds sharing holiday mirth. There will be new additions at Atkins House, and items in the General Store will make great Christmas gifts. The cost is $3 for adults, with children under 7 admitted free. Saturday night, the park will be open for people to drive through and enjoy the sights of the sleepy littler heritage village. Christmas in the Park is from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Heritage park, 415 North Jackson St.

A Hospice Holiday Fiesta benefiting Hospice at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church, 301 Church St. Dinner will be provided by the Aguilar family, who are donating 70 dozen homemade tamales, as well as TaMolly’s of Paris, and Grocery Supply Company. Music will be provided by Psalms 100 and Rhonda Neal. Children can have their pictures made with Santa and enjoy Christmas story telling. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children 4-11, while kids 3 and under get in free. Tickets are available at the door or at Hospice. Proceeds go to patient care, community education and bereavement care.

Christmas on the Square will begin at 5 p.m. Friday with the lighting of the Christmas tree on the square, as well as other activities planned by local merchants. Christmas on the Square continues at 10 a.m. Saturday with a variety of activities. Besides a bevy of arts and crafts that make perfect stocking stuffers and gifts, the city's Downtown Business Alliance sponsors live entertainment, free train rides for kids, guided tours of the beautifully restored 1896 courthouse, and much more.

The North Pole of Texas, hosted by the Alan and Kim Screws family, will begin offering free train rides from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. beginning this Friday, and continuing each Friday and Saturday through Dec. 22. Train rides will also be offered from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, Friday and Sunday, Dec. 23. To find the North Pole of Texas, travel east on Interstate 30 from Sulphur Springs to the 136 exit in Weaver. Turn right on FM 269. Follow FM 269 for 4 miles until you reach Pine Forest. Turn left on CR 3310 at Betty's Store. (For those not familiar with the area, look for the North Pole of Texas sign on the left.) Continue on CR 3310 for about 2 1/2 miles. You will see the lights. Follow the path to the designated parking area. For more information, go online to www.northpoleoftexas.com.

Saturday: Christmas parade, pictures with Santa, and the Choral Society concert

Saturday will be the traditional holiday start, ushered in with the annual Lions Club Christmas Parade, which departs Buford Park at 10 a.m. All manner of vehicles and entrants are welcome, with the exception of four-wheelers (for safety reasons) and Santa impersonators. Participants should be at the park at 9 a.m. Saturday to get lined up. For more information about the Annual Lions Club Christmas Parade, contact McGrady at 885-7571.

A "Picture Day" in which children can have their pictures made with Santa is also being offered in the downtown lobby at City National Bank from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Those participating are asked to bring canned goods to help the local Food Bank.

Also this weekend is the North East Texas Choral Society’s annual Christmas concert, “A Victorian Christmas,” which will be presented at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center at 7 p.m. Saturday, and again at 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Advance tickets can be purchased at area banks, from choral society members or at the Civic Center box office. This will be a song celebration of the Christmas season the whole family can enjoy.

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