The Christmas spirit is emerging throughout Waxahachie, and within the next couple weekends, families can embrace holiday-themed events that have become time-honored traditions.
For the next two weekends, the Downtown Merchants Association is hosting a variety of events including the annual Candlelight Tour, a downtown hayride, photos with Santa in the square, the Chocolate Sip 'N Stroll, and an English Christmas Tea.
The Candlelight Tour takes place Dec. 2 — 3 and Dec. 9 — 10 from 2 — 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15 per weekend. Children 12-and-younger are free.
During the tours, patrons walk through magnificently decorated homes and public buildings in Waxahachie. This leisure event allows those to travel to the locations in any order they prefer and at their own pace.
Each weekend, a different group of homes will be on display to tour throughout town, though four public buildings will remain the same on all four days.
On the first weekend, all the homes are located in Katy Lake. Ticket holders for the first two days also have the option of touring a bonus home that serves as the Pettigrew Academy.
The Ellis County Courthouse and the IOOF building will be featured to view, as well. Meanwhile, the Nicholas P. Sims Library will be on the tour for the first time, showcasing the upstairs Lyceum that dates back to 1905.
The fourth public building on the tour is the Everley Rose Event Center that’s presenting "A Christmas of Magic." The event center has been transformed into a Christmas winter village, Santa’s workshop, a gingerbread forest, a nativity scene and more. During this stop, visitors can enjoy the smores bar, cookies and hot cocoa refreshments.
Tracey Stidham, owner of Everley Rose said, “This is perfect to have a little Christmas moment.”
The event center will also be open to the public on Dec. 2 to 31 from 10 a.m. — 8 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the event center for photos on Dec. 3 and 10 from 4 — 8 p.m. All dates and times are free and open to the public.
The downtown Christmas hayride and photos with Santa take place on Dec. 2 and Dec. 9. Photos take place from 4 — 8 p.m. at the Pocket Park and cost $5, while the 20-minute hayride goes from 6 — 8 p.m. and is dependant on donations.
Ginny Sills, board member of the Merchants Association and Candlelight Tour chair said, “It adds to the Christmas feel of downtown and allows the kids to see Santa. The hayrides allow the families to have an old-fashioned, hometown fun. They don’t have to travel to Dallas but can have fun here in Waxahachie.”
This year’s second annual Chocolate Sip 'N Stroll is on Dec. 9 from 2 — 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 before Dec. 8 and $15 at the door. Patrons can enjoy holiday shopping downtown while receiving chocolate specialty gifts at each stop. This year, each ticket holder will be given a commemorative cup to sip on during their shopping experience.
A map will be given to the downtown merchants participating in the Chocolate Stroll.
Sills said, “We are keeping the kids in mind with it but as well as the adults, though some merchants may offer a little shot extra in a beverage for an adult is they so incline.”
The English Christmas Tea is celebrating for the second year on Dec. 3 from 2 — 4 p.m.
“It seems to be a new event that people want to make a tradition,” Sills said.
The event is hosted at the English Merchants Inn, a Bed and Breakfast on Main St.
Tea and English food will be served, while adults have the choice of champagne. This year, each ticket holder will be given a local, handmade Christmas ornament. Tickets were $25 this year, but the event is already sold out.
With so many holiday events to enjoy, all the funds raised go back to the Downtown Merchants Association organization.
Sills explained, "that, in turn, is part of our mission to make downtown a viable, beautiful, safe area for people to come to. We are also looking to give back to downtown."
Tickets for the Candlelight Tour and Chocolate Sip 'N Stroll can be purchased from the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce or the Ellis County Museum or online at www.downtownwaxahachie.com.