By Grace Gaddy
Waco’s annual Christmas on the Brazos celebration will usher in the holiday season with a colorful schedule of events and activities for all ages.
The Historic Waco Foundation will be giving tours of four of its historic house museums dating from 1858-1872. The houses will be decorated with the theme “Home for the Holidays” and will be open Saturday and Sunday, and again on Dec. 11 and 12 from 2 to 5 p.m. There will also be a special candlelight tour from 6 to 9 p.m. today.
Melissa Gonzalez, education coordinator for Historic Waco, encouraged people to come see the homes in their holiday grandeur.
“This is a really good opportunity to actually get to see the houses decorated for Christmas, and it helps them reconnect to Waco history,” she said.
The cost of admission is $15 for all four houses, covering both weekend and candlelight, or $5 for each individual house. Accompanied children 13 and under are free. The home addresses along with more information can be found at www.HistoricWaco.org.
A second highlight of Christmas on the Brazos will be Saturday’s Holiday on the Square, kicking off with the annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis in Heritage Square at 5 p.m. The holiday-themed fundraiser will feature a 5K run/walk and a one-mile Fun Run, in which participants can tie jingle bells to their laces and sport their favorite holiday gear.
Family-oriented and pet-friendly, the event will offer various activities including costume contests and a Snowman Shuffle, a 6/10 of a mile run for children 12 and under. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Arthritis Foundation, an organization committed to addressing the “most common cause of disability in the United States,” according to a statistic reported by the Centers for Disease Control. Registration will open at 3 and cost $25, or $20 online before 5 p.m. today.
Following the Jingle Bell run/walk will be the city of Waco’s annual Christmas Parade at 6:30 p.m.
Jonathan Cook, who works with community promotions for the city of Waco, said the parade will feature more than 70 participants, including a special appearance from Santa Claus himself.
The procession will start at 13th Street and Austin Avenue and will travel down Austin Avenue to Heritage Square to culminate with a special tree lighting ceremony held by Keep Waco Beautiful.
“The mayor will be on hand to flip the switch,” Cook said.
There will also be other festivities, including pictures with Santa Claus, kids crafts, carriage rides and music in the square.
“It’s a Waco tradition, and its a great way to kick off the holiday season,” Cook said.
Chris McGowan, director of urban development, said local businesses will also be getting involved providing free refreshments and extended shopping hours through a special event called Christmas on the Avenues.
“It’s just an invitation for people to come down and experience the shops and businesses and other establishments in downtown Waco,” he said. “Some of the businesses on Austin Avenue and downtown will be staying open late and offering some special deals.”
Mcgowan, who works for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, said there will be everything from antiques to art exhibits, and the chamber will offer an open house with public tours, art displays and free coffee and cookies.
“It would be great if people come down and join us,” he said.