While some Longview-area holiday activities have been canceled and others are being presented differently, there still are opportunities for residents to get into a holly, jolly spirit this year.
In Longview, the city’s Christmas parade, Christmas at the Courthouse, Breakfast with Santa at Longview Museum of Fine Arts, and Living History Christmas at Gregg County Historical Museum are among canceled events. The cancellations were prompted because of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to ensure attendees can safely social distance, officials said.
Longview Museum of Fine Arts, however, is still planning to have its Holiday Tea Room and Market, and the Gregg County Historical Museum will offer its Loblolly Train exhibit, but both events will look a little different.
Meanwhile, the cities of Kilgore, Gladewater, Henderson, Hallsville and Liberty City are still planning Christmas parades. Others, such as the city of Gilmer, will still have annual holiday festivals downtown.
In Longview, art museum Executive Director Tiffany Jehorek said this year’s Holiday Tea Room and Market, scheduled Dec. 8 to 11, will be scaled down and more spread out, but will still offer East Texans a holiday shopping and dining experience. At the market, about 20 vendors will be spread throughout the museum for shopping.
Meanwhile, at the tea room, there will be only two tables available for purchase this year. Each table costs $500 to reserve and can seat eight to 10 guests. However, guests who want to dine on the tea room’s lunches will be able to order them to-go for $25 per plate. Tuscan Pig Italian Kitchen is catering Dec. 8; Janacakes Bakery is catering Dec. 9; and Lori’s Eats and Sweets will cater Dec. 10 and 11.
“We hope people will come in, wear their masks and do their holiday shopping with us while getting your holiday lunch to-go,” Jehorek said.
At Gregg County Historical Museum, Executive Director Lindsay Loy said the museum has canceled its Living History Christmas but will offer the Loblolly Train exhibit during regular museum hours. Admission will be free each Saturday in December, she said.
City spokesman Shawn Hara said there will not be an official Christmas tree lighting ceremony this year at Heritage Plaza; however, the Christmas tree will go up, and residents are invited to drive by and enjoy the lights at their leisure. The Gregg County Courthouse also is planning to put up its holiday lights on the grounds, but there will not be an event at the courthouse.
The Longview Symphony is planning a virtual Home for the Holidays concert. The online concert, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, will bring Santa Claus and holiday carols to viewers’ homes.
The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, which is typically presented at the Belcher Center, is also going virtual this year. Those who want to stream the event, scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 19, can purchase a streaming package through the Belcher Center’s website.
Longview CPA Carmela Davis still plans to offer her drive-thru light display in which residents can view millions of twinkling lights while safely social distancing in their vehicles. Carmela’s Magical Santa Land is open nightly, starting Nov. 6, at 6085 U.S. 259 North.
Outside of Longview, numerous Christmas parades and holiday events are planned.
In Kilgore, the City of Stars will present its annual Very Derrick Christmas starting at 3 p.m. Nov. 14. Downtown businesses will be open, and there will be live music and entertainment, including a performance by the Kilgore College Rangerettes. The lighting of the derricks occurs at dark. Following that, Kilgore’s Christmas Parade is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1.
In Gladewater, city officials said the Christmas parade is scheduled for Dec. 8. Hallsville officials said a Christmas parade is still being planned and expect a date to be finalized next week. Liberty City’s Christmas parade is scheduled for Dec. 6.
The city of Henderson has scheduled its downtown tree lighting ceremony from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 6 in conjunction with a holiday open house of downtown businesses. Henderson’s Christmas parade is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 3.
In Gilmer, the city’s Christmas parade is canceled, but officials said the annual holiday Yulefest is still on schedule for Dec. 5. Yulefest includes a day of festivities in downtown Gilmer.
This year’s schedule starts at 8 a.m. with Breakfast with Santa. Advance registration is required for Breakfast with Santa. Following that, Candy Cane Lane opens at 9 a.m. with activities for children. There will be a cornhole tournament, clown, dancers, a magician and other entertainment. For more information or to register for Breakfast with Santa, visit www.gilmeryulefest.com.