Holiday festivities and activities in Downtown DeFuniak

LIGHTING THE TREE will signify the official beginning of the holiday season. (Photo by Tammy Kearce)

By TAMMY KEARCE 

Beginning November 26, Lake DeFuniak will light the nights with more than 10 million Christmas lights on and around the lake. But that’s not all. Downtown will be bustling with holiday festivities and activities for visitors of all ages. From visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus to shopping in the Mistletoe Market and watching sports on a 21 ft. screen complete with cocktails, the downtown district will offer something for everyone. 

While the Christmas Reflections display is featured nightly from November 26 until December 31, a host of other special events are taking place throughout the holiday season. 

SANTA will greet children every weekend between November 27-December 18. (Photo by Tammy Kearce)

The 18 annual Festival of Trees at the Chautauqua Building will be presented courtesy of the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood Foundation, Inc. from November 26 until December 5 between 5-9 p.m. and will feature many uniquely decorated trees as well as historical photos and memorabilia related to the City of DeFuniak Springs. The display is free and open to the public. 

Carriage rides around the lake will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. on November 26- 28; December 3 – 5; and nightly December 10-31. The price is $12 per person in addition to a Christmas Reflections ticket or pass. Children three and under ride for free. Private carriages are available on Fridays and Saturdays only. Visit High Horse Farms LLC on Facebook for details.

Live entertainment on Merry Mainstreet will begin November 27 with a performance by Gilleran’s Island band between 2-4 p.m. bringing American Soul and Pop music with violin, cello, guitar and vocals to the Merry Mainstreet festivities. On December 4, the Walton County Community Band will perform at 3 p.m. And December 11, the Walton County Community Band will perform again at 3 p.m. followed by Walton High School’s BELLISSIMO vocal ensemble at 5 p.m. Rounding out the performances on December 18, Gilleran’s Island Band will return performing between 2-4 p.m.

Merry Mainstreet will also feature Food truck Fridays when vendors line Baldwin Avenue from 5:30-8:30 and visitors can enjoy a wide selection of delicious dishes complemented with live music by regional musicians including The Worthey’s on Friday, December 3; Anthony Peebles on Friday, December 10; and Hotwork on Friday, December 17. 

CARRIAGE RIDES around the lake will be offered by High Horse LLC. (Photo courtesy of High Horse LLC)

The Mistletoe Market is an outdoor shopping experience with vendors set up along Baldwin Avenue on Saturday afternoons/ evenings between 2-8 p.m. The shopping will begin on November 27, which is Small Business Saturday, a national movement encouraging customers to shop locally.

For children, train rides on the Choctaw Express will be available on Saturdays November 27- December 18 between 5-8 p.m. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves will also greet children along Main Street on Saturdays between 5-8 p.m. and at the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood on Fridays and Sundays between 5-8 p.m. 

On Saturday, November 27, a fundraising raffle will be held by the clock on Baldwin Avenue for children interested in winning a chance to light the Christmas tree with Santa. A winner will be chosen at 6 p.m. and lighting the tree will signify the official beginning of the holiday season. Children are also invited to enjoy the Character Clubhouse where they can meet and greet their favorite Disney characters on Saturdays from November 27 until December 18, between 2-5 p.m. at the Opinion Place on Baldwin Avenue.

For those who would rather relax indoors, movies, sports and live performances will be available in the Chautauqua Theater beginning with the Men’s Lounge on Small Business Saturday, November 27, between 12:00-6 p.m., when sports will be shown on the 21 ft. screen and cocktails and other refreshments will be available. Saturday, December 4, at 4 p.m., the 1990 Christmas classic “Home Alone,” starring Macaulay Culkin, will be shown. Saturday, December 11, at 4 p.m., “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” starring Chevy Chase will be featured. Sunday, December 12, the Walton Community Band will perform at 2 p.m. And Saturday, December 18, at 4 p.m., “The Santa Clause,” starring Tim Allen, will be shown. Tickets will be available at the door.

Anyone who wants to be a part of the excitement and help spread the Christmas Spirit to residents and visitors is welcome to volunteer and participate in the Christmas Reflections experience.

“It is such a great feeling to hear folks from other cities tell us how awesome it is for the city to host such an event or to tell us the number of years they have been coming to DeFuniak Springs because it is a ‘family tradition,’” said Cynthia Permenter, Secretary to Mayor Bob Campbell.

CITY EMPLOYEES decorate Downtown DFS for festivities. (Photo by Tammy Kearce)

Students may also earn community service hours by volunteering. Visit www.defuniaksprings.net to learn more or email cynthia@defuniaksprings.net.

This year, for the first time, Christmas Reflections is offering sponsors a chance to, “make the season bright,” with sponsorship packages, giving businesses and individuals an opportunity to become a featured sponsor of the light show. Contact director@mainstreet.org for details.

For more information about any of the featured events or schedules, visit DeFuniakSprings.net or MainStreetDFS.org. And for more about the Chautauqua Theatre’s schedule, visit fcweb.org