By Rachel Madison
On Dec. 9, Lions Foundation Park will turn into a Christmas wonderland—complete with carriage rides, Santa and thousands of twinkling lights. Liberty Hill’s annual Christmas festival has been revamped this year to bring an even better event to the community.
Fellowship Church Pastor Michael Wright, chair of the steering committee and spokesperson for the Liberty Hill Christmas Festival, said the festival originally began as a Christmas parade only, but like a lot of small town events, it grew larger each year.
“It grew a little bit too much, into a two-day festival, which became too much to manage,” he said. “We’re just not a big enough town for that yet. That’s why we made the decision last year to focus on being better instead of bigger this year, and that’s what we’ve really focused on. We kind of threw everything out and started from the ground up.”
The festival’s steering committee, which includes community leaders from churches, schools, city government and businesses, wanted to accomplish a couple of things with this year’s festival.
“First, we wanted to celebrate Christmas with Christ at the center, and we as a community aren’t going to shy away from that,” Wright said. “The other thing is we wanted to be different from every other festival around us. We decided to focus on a Saturday event with a festival starting in the afternoon and the big-ticket item is what’s going to happen after dark with the lighted parade and Trail of Lights.”
The Liberty Hill Christmas Festival officially kicks off at 2 p.m. at Lions Foundation Park, 355 Loop 332, on Dec. 9, with food trucks and more than 55 vendor booths. The vendor booths will be selling everything from handcrafted jewelry and art to clothing and toys. There will also be an information booth, picnic area, reindeer games, entertainment stage, carriage rides pulled by a Clydesdale horse, bounce houses, barrel train and snowball fights. Everything is free except for purchases at vendor booths and food trucks.
“When was the last time you had a community-wide snowball fight in Liberty Hill, Texas?” Wright said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s going to be something for everybody.”
At 3:30 p.m., a Jingle Bell 5K & Fun Run will be held. Everyone is invited to participate—including dogs and children in strollers—and costumes are encouraged. The starting line and finish line are at Lions Foundation Park, and awards and refreshments will be served at the finish line. Online registration at libertyhillchristmas.com is open until Dec. 7 and includes a T-shirt. The cost is $15 per person or $50 for a family value pack (four entries). Walk-up registration closes at 2:45 p.m. on race day.
“The run has been a tradition for many years, so we wanted to hold to that,” Wright said.
The Jingle Bell 5K & Fun Run is sponsored this year by Fellowship Church.
Once it gets dark, the festival fun will really ramp up, Wright said. A lighted parade, sponsored by Cecil Atkission Motors in Burnet, will kick off at 6 p.m. and will feature between more than 40 floats. The parade follows a route that begins at Liberty Hill Elementary School and ends at Liberty Hill Intermediate School. Prizes will be awarded for 1st Place, 2nd Place, 3rd Place, and Honorable Mention.
“The last float is going to have 1,000 battery-operated candles we’ll be handing out to people along the parade route,” Wright said. “We’re going to invite all parade watchers to become parade participants and fall in behind that last float to sing carols. When we talk about what’s going to set us apart, people are going to remember that.”
Another float in the parade will feature Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves. Parade goers are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to the parade to give to Santa as he goes by. The unwrapped gifts will be given to Liberty Hill’s Angel Tree program to provide Christmas for local children in need.
Immediately following the parade, attendees will be invited to Lions Foundation Park to witness the Trail of Lights being turned on for the first time.
“Fellowship [Church’s] band will be leading more carol singing in the park, and the kids do not want to miss our ‘Santa Bucky’ puppet show,” Wright said. “We’re going to tell the Christmas story and then break it down to an acoustic Silent Night. We’ll turn off all the lights, and then throw the switch on an incredibly decorated park. The trail will be something completely different from what people have seen in the past. We’ll then invite everyone to walk the trail with us. The poles will be lit, there will be lighted displays and a 150-foot-long lighted tunnel.”
The .8-mile-long Trail of Lights will be on nightly through Jan. 5 from dusk until dawn. Each light pole is adopted by local businesses, families and organizations. In addition, one of the poles along the trail will be a designated drop off spot for Angel Tree gifts. Prizes will be awarded for the top three light pole displays, and winners will be announced at the festival.
“We can’t emphasize enough how much we want the community to be a part of this,” Wright said. “This is the Liberty Hill Christmas Festival. It’s not anything but that.”
Parking for the event will be free, and designated parking areas include the lots at Fellowship Church, the Fellowship Annex (formerly the VFW building), Liberty Hill Intermediate School and Liberty Hill Junior High. Buses will be running from 2-10 p.m. to shuttle people to the park. .
Wright said the entire event will be something to remember, especially because it’s an event that the whole community has a hand in planning.
“This is not a single organization’s event,” he said. “This is probably the best example of our community joining together because this festival pulls everybody together. I just want the entire community to come out, and to come with child-like expectations. That’s what’s going to make this amazing.”
For more information about the festival, visit libertyhillchristmas.com or follow Liberty Hill Christmas on Facebook.