Christmas in WP starts early

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Dress warm for a day of holiday adventures in Woodland Park. Visitors and locals are invited to spend Dec. 1 in the city that elevates attitudes, getting a quick start on the Christmas holiday.

The day starts with the annual Breakfast with Santa at the Ute Pass Cultural Center 8-11 a.m., sponsored by the Pikes Peak Kiwanis. Kiwanis volunteers spend the morning cooking pancakes and other breakfast accompaniments while children visit with Santa on the cultural center stage or with Mrs. Clause down in front. Santa has his bag of goodies and Mrs. Clause shares hugs and cookies. There will also be other activities for children, including coloring and drawing and getting fake tattoos. Young volunteers help serve and keep the tables clean.

On Dec. 1-2 is the Tweed's Sounds of Christmas Holiday Home Tour with well-decorated homes for people to visit and a virtual marketplace to shop. Proceeds from this event help Teller Senior Coalition, Woodland Park Hockey Association and Woodland Aquatics Project.

A quick trip though the Pikes Peak Courier View archives shows that there was a parade in Woodland Park in 1986 but the first reference to a Lighter Side of Christmas Parade using that name was in 1988, which likely means that this year's Lighter Side of Christmas Parade is 24 years old.

The parade starts at 6 p.m. at the Taco Bell, moves down Woodland Park's main street, U.S. 24, and ends at Tweeds. The parade has a single theme that showcases two different anniversaries. The theme, “A Colorado Christmas Cookie Carol,” uses cookies to highlight the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of America and a Christmas Carol to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens. Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1843. It's probably his most popular work, as well as the one most often adapted for other media such as movies, plays and TV shows.

The beneficiary of this year's parade is Girl Scout Troop 249. Two years ago the parade benefited local Boy Scout troops as they celebrated the Boy Scouts of America's 100th anniversary.

“The Community Cupboard van will be in the parade and then will park in front of the Ute Pass Cultural Center so that parade goers can fill it up,” said Tracie Bennitt, a long-time parade planner. “The parade keeps evolving every year. We're working on setting the theme and choosing a beneficiary so we can announce them on parade day.”

After the parade, everyone is invited to gather at the Ute Pass Cultural Center for the refreshments, music provided by Woodland Wind Symphony and the Summit Singers, the city tree lighting ceremony and the annual Crazy Holiday Hat contest. Vickie and Jerry Good, owners of Williams Brothers Furniture will be standing at the doors watching for crazy hats to be finalists in the contest. The winner will be declared by popular vote from the audience.

All day, when people aren't taking part in planned festivities they can also go Christmas tree hunting in Pike National Forest. They can buy cutting permits from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9 at Woodland Park Middle School parking lot.