Woodward, Okla. —
What's your favorite Christmas tradition? Writing letters to Santa? Enjoying holiday treats? Making festive crafts? Listening to carols? Taking time to remember the reason for the season? Or maybe it's giving back to make sure someone else's holiday is as bright as your own?
Now imagine bringing all those Christmas traditions together into one big event. That is what the Woodward Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), together with community partner J&L Oilfield Services, has done with its new holiday celebration, called “A Christmas Tradition,” set for Dec. 3 at the Woodward Conference Center.
Doors will open at 5 p.m. and visitors, especially families, are encouraged to come early so that they can participate in all that the event will offer.
Sarah Wolfington, an event coordinator for the CVB, said each area of the conference center will be filled with different holiday activities.
For example, Wolfington said the first meeting room will house a Letters to Santa Workshop, where children can write out their Christmas lists. The children can then place their letters in Santa's sack, which will be located by the large, beautifully decorated Christmas trees in the concourse, she said.
Santa will even be there, sitting at a desk by the tree, she said, and youngsters can watch him “making his list and checking it twice.”
In addition to the Santa scene, the concourse will also feature booths from several local caterers who will be offering seasonally appropriate appetizers, Wolfington said.
Weather permitting, she said, there will be a live manager scene out on the patio. The scene is expected to include a mini donkey, goat and the cast from the First Baptist Church's Christmas play, “Two From Galilee,” she said.
After visiting the patio, Wolfington said people can warm up with a hot beverage of their choice, either cocoa or apple cider, inside the center's second meeting room. And while enjoying that beverage, she said they can enjoy a display of Greg Nuse's working miniature carnival rides all built out of K'Nex.
Then in the third meeting room, Wolfington said the public can get some holiday crafting ideas from members of the Woodward County Home Extension Club, who will be offering demonstrations on creative wrapping ideas, food gifts in a jar, and decorative crosses.
Once they've participated in the activities in the different meeting rooms, Wolfington said the public can just stroll through the concourse enjoying performances by “Dickensian costumed” carol singers representing the Woodward Arts Theatre and a hand bell choir from the First United Methodist Church.
The public will have an hour and half to participate in all the different activities, Wolfington said, before the highlight of the evening, a Christmas concert featuring a number of local performers, begins at 6:30 p.m.
She said the concert will include performances by Woodward High School choirs, Highland Park Elementary Sound Crew, Bobbi Castor, the Carricos, Woodward High School band, T.Z. Wright and Judy White, a first grade class from WECC, and St. Peter's Catholic Church. The cast of “Two From Galilee” will also perform some scenes from the play, which chronicles the birth of Jesus, she said.
Altogether the concert program will last around 2 hours and will feature “totally traditional Christmas songs and music,” she said.
“What we're aiming for is everybody who walks in the door and walks away at the end of the night to feel like their Christmas has really started,” Wolfington said.
But “giving Woodward, as a community, a big Christmas event that can bring everyone together,” is just one of the goals of the event, she said.
Another “smaller reason” is simply show off the conference center, she said.
“When we first opened the conference center, right from the start, we knew we wanted to showcase the conference center at Christmas time,” Wolfington said. “We couldn't do it last year because it was so busy, being our first year open. So we wanted to make sure we did something really big this year.”
However, the ultimate goal of “A Christmas Tradition,” Wolfington said is to give back to the community. That is why, instead of charging an entry fee, she said event organizers want each person to bring an item to donate to either the Woodward County Toy Giveaway or Families Helping Families food pantry.
“Our number one goal is to benefit the 2 charities because at this time of year especially, those 2 charities are so relevant,” she said. “That's why we chose them to begin with because they touch so many in the community during the holidays.”
Wolfington said they can bring new toys to donated to the Toy Giveaway or bring personal care items to benefit Families Helping Families, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper, paper towels, razors, body lotions, bandages, bath soap, and baby powder.
“The reason we didn't do an entry fee is because we want to make this accessible to everybody,” she said. “So for the price of a toothbrush they can get in the door and feel like they're giving back to somebody else and at the same time walk away feeling like they've started their holidays with the true meaning of Christmas.”