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Schertz revamps annual holiday event

November 20, 2018

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Schertz — complete with twinkling holiday lights and lots of snow.

The city will begin celebrating the season at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, when Mayor Michael Carpenter and the City Council light the community tree in front of City Hall, 1400 Schertz Parkway, accompanied by local choirs singing Christmas carols.

“We used to have the tree lighting as part of our annual Festival of Angels event,” said Melissa Geedman, the city’s communications manager. “But for the last three or four years, we’ve been doing it on Tuesday, just before the council meeting with the community. It kicks off the evening.”

The city’s Festival of Angels has a new look and a new name, said Lauren Shrum, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.

“We’ve been having holiday events here in Schertz for a long time and decided basically to refresh the event this year,” Shrum said. “That included adding new elements, changing the name and updating the marketing. So we’re going with Holidazzle as the new name.”

Unlike the old festival, which ran for four hours on a Friday evening, Holidazzle will expand the celebration to 12 hours on Dec. 1, starting at 8 a.m.

It will begin with a pancake breakfast with Santa at the city’s civic center in the municipal complex.

Tickets are $10 a person and can be purchased at the city’s Parks and Recreation office, 10 Commercial Place, Building 1, with a limit of 100 people admitted in four 90-minute increments.

The Kris Kringle Market will begin at 8 a.m. in the Civic and Community Center with more than 30 vendors at crafts and food booths. It will run until 4 p.m.

What the city is calling “winter activities” will take place from noon to 8 p.m. and will include a giant snow globe, as well as a snow-angel play area with a small hill of real snow.

“And this year we’re happy to have a synthetic ice skating rink being built near City Hall, so that will be something a lot of people don’t get to do very often in Texas,” Schrum said, adding “a whole fleet” of ice skates will be provided free of charge.

Balloonists will be creating Christmas-themed Santa hats and reindeer hats for children of all ages, while face-painting artists circulate through the crowd, she said.

Live entertainment, including area bands and local dance groups, will also be providing holiday cheer at a nearby outdoor stage from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The highlight of the Holidazzle event will begin at 6 p.m. with a lighted night parade that will travel along Oak Street to Main Street, down Schertz Parkway and on to Community Circle Drive.

“We’ve always had the evening event, typically on a Friday,” Schrum said. “But the idea was we’ve always had such a demand from the citizens wanting more that it began to feel jam-packed in that four-hour period. People were struggling to get off work and get down here in time.

“So we felt we had more to offer, and we wanted to make it into an all-day event,” she said.

Indications are that residents will welcome the change, Geedman said. “Attendance last year ranged from 1,500 to 2,000 people,” she said. “I will say we already have a lot of interest generated for this event. I would imagine double that number this time. To be honest, we’re expecting a very big crowd this year.”

But Schrum confided her biggest challenge putting together Holidazzle was snow.

“Finding enough real snow to go around was the big thing,” she said. “Everybody wants to have the snow this time of year, and those vendors are usually booked far in advance.”

Her next test?

“Making the snow last and making the weather cooperate,” she said with a laugh. “This is one of those few days where we don’t want bright sunshine. We want our snow to last — so come out early. We just can’t guarantee the Texas weather.”

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