Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes looked at her calendar Monday morning and it hit her. Thanksgiving in this week, meaning the annual Home for the Holidays Christmas Festival is just days away.
The parade is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25. It is part of a day full of activities in downtown Great Bend.
“It’s Great Bend’s way of inviting Santa to town and kicking off our Christmas season,” she said. This year the city is organizing the entire event, with partners staying on board to make sure the after-parade activities continue as well.
Hayes said they are still accepting entries for the parade.
But, there are observations before that, she said. The holiday open houses was Nov. 5, Caught You Shopping in Great Bend was Nov. 12 and first-ever social media promotion and contest Selfie Saturday was this past Saturday.
“This was a social media push,” she said. “We hope to spread store awareness more.” In years past, this was the Find a Turkey Day.
Nov. 25 will be Small Business Saturday with Black Friday specials.
The Christmas cookie contest runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 16 participating business locations with a chance to vote for the best cookies in town.
Then, there is the parade, the mayor’s tree lighting at 6:15 p.m., living Nativity portraits, and free horse-drawn carriage rides, train rides, and free hot dogs and funnel cakes on the square. Santa will begin his visits at 1223 Main.
This year also marks the return of the ice skating rink, which was not available last year due to construction in Jack Kilby Square. Skating will also be available this Saturday after the parade. From then on, free skate rental will be available from 4-8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 1-6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
And, with the lighting of the square at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the Trail Of Lights will be officially open.
Starting Saturday, Santa Claus will make appearances from 4-6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and from 1-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at 1223 Main.
“You can do all the traditions of Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend,” Hayes said.