Minus the picturesque mountains in the distance, the atmosphere in Enid this holiday season resembles the setting for a Hallmark Movie. So many things to see and do people must experience it to believe it.
Our story begins with a view through the windshield of a red pilot truck with flashing lights. The driver is accompanied by his two faithful canine co-workers who have traveled as many miles as he has. This trip covered nearly 4,000 miles to and from the Shasta National Forest. The flat terrain to each side of the smooth stretch of road is a sign the escort vehicle and the large rig behind them are nearing their destination.
Usually commissioned to escort large wind turbine blades across the country, this trip was special. The cargo this trip was the one hundred forty foot ‘Christ Tree’, so named to reflect the true meaning behind the Christmas season, currently the tallest fresh cut Christmas Tree in the World. The trek from California was not without its obstacles. A snowstorm in Wyoming and tornadic conditions during the final overnight stay threatened to bring the effort to a halt in Kansas. Worn from the ride and ready for repair, the tree was welcomed by a large crowd to downtown Enid on October 13. The transformation from first plugging to the lighting ceremony was nothing short of spectacular.
The ‘Christ Tree’ is the heart of a dream that began over two years prior with one family. It is the center of the ultimate project titled ‘The One’. The ‘Christ Tree’ serves as a gift to the community from Kyle and Carol Williams and their family. Partners and volunteers joined forces with them to carry out the vision with servant hearts and a love of God and community.
The One is about much more than an awe-inspiring tree. While the ‘Christ Tree’ is the centerpiece, it is only the beginning. A wide variety of programs and entertainment will be featured near the tree throughout December. Programs include everything from school choirs, praise and worship opportunities, live plays, and concerts to church and Community Christmas Eve Services.
In addition to the entertainment, organizers and volunteers have worked selflessly to collect donations and organize efforts that include the donation of 100 smaller artificial Christmas trees and items to families in need.
Organizers project an influx of out of visitors due to the interest generated around the state, across the nation as well as a few inquiries from other countries.
The Williams family began sharing their Christmas spirit with the community last year, working with Main Street Enid to sponsor the Holidays on Ice Skating Rink through their family businesses. Due to its popularity, the Williams continued the sponsorship this holiday season. The magnificent ‘Christ Tree’ provides an exquisite backdrop for the ice-skating rink and adds an extraordinary element to a traditionally magical time of year in downtown Enid.
Main Street Executive Director, Natalie Beurlot, Assistant Director Charlotte Ringwald, and their supportive volunteers worked many hours to transform the parking lot of the Stride Bank center into an enchanted experience. For the past twenty-eight years, Main Street Enid has transformed the downtown area into a holiday wonderland with Enid Lights Up the Plains. Stores stay open late, and vendors line the square with food, drinks and items for sale. A fantastic parade of lights and impressive fireworks display kick off the holiday season. You can find information on the downtown festivities at www.mainstreetenid.org
An abundance of Christmas spirit and activities can be found in other areas of the city as well. Holiday events began mid-November and will continue through the first of the year.
The annual Vance Spouses Club Holiday Marketplace has marked the beginning of the holiday season for many years. The event VSC members did not miss a beat in 2020, as they hosted a successful virtual event, however they were thrilled to return to the Garfield County Fairgrounds this year. The event featured a wide variety of craft items and baked goods as well as a trendy selfie station and the always popular photo ops with Santa Claus. The Holiday Marketplace is one of the Vance Officers’ Spouses’ Club’s largest annual fundraisers, and it benefits local charities, national nonprofit organizations and scholarships for graduating seniors, college students and military spouses. Donations of canned food items was a choice upon admission during this year’s event. A generous amount of donations was collected and distributed to local non-profit food pantry, Loaves and Fishes.
If you are a fan of Christmas lights and fun, you won’t want to miss Christmas in The Park. Meadowlake Park, located at 1200 West Rupe, features a festive drive through creative light displays and a variety of characters. Vehicles enter on the north side of the park from Rupe and are greeted throughout the park by a cast of characters including Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch, Rudolph, Mr. and Mrs. Claus and more. The City of Enid hosts a toy drive for Toys for Tots with a dedicated section for dropping off new, unwrapped toys. Admission is free and they will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. on December 4th and 11th.
One of the most charming traditions in Enid during the holidays is the annual Museum After Dark: Christmas in the Village. Open on December 10th, from 5 to 9 p.m., visitors are immersed in a Victorian Christmas atmosphere in Humphrey Heritage Village and The Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center. Staff and volunteers provide a unique, fun filled experience. Christmas carolers spread good cheer throughout the evening while visitors enjoy activities such as a make and take ornament decorating station, hot cocoa, cookies and a visit from Father Christmas. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance for the popular event. Admission is $5, with children ages five and under admitted for free.
Enid is home to many talented actors, and you can find them at the Gaslight Theatre. All-time favorite ‘Mary Poppins’ will be featured on stage December 3-5 and December 10th. In addition, on location near The One, a special presentation of the beloved American holiday classic ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ will come to life as a live 1940s radio broadcast on December 11th at 4:30 and again on December 18th at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00.
The members and friends of Enid First Church of the Nazarene are giving a beautiful Christmas gift to Garfield County for the 30th year. Beginning Friday, December 10th and running for 3 nights, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a living drive-through nativity scene at 324 N. Cleveland between the hours of 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (Traffic will enter on the south side of the church off Cleveland). Guests will drive through a pathway of lights and witness first- hand the story of the very first Christmas as portrayed in ten different scenes. Approximately 55 actors and support staff will rotate every 30-45 minutes, depending upon the weather. The story will come alive through beautiful music, scriptures and live animals. Pastor Bruce Johnson commented that, “This is our gift to the community and we give it with great joy! Our entire congregation comes together to participate in what has become a great tradition; enjoyed by many, many families living in the Enid area and well beyond.”
No Hallmark movie would be complete without a visit to a genuine tree farm and Red Bird Farm features all the feels. It is a family friendly working Christmas tree and blackberry farm located just north of Enid at 8812 North Highway 81. The farm features events year-round, however Christmas at the Farm, is one of the most popular. Guests can choose and cut their very own live Christmas tree. Operating hours are Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. through December 12th.
For additional events and activities in the Enid area, check out the E-Vent calendar and be sure to check out the Visit Enid page at www.visitenid.com
In holiday movies the heroes are often amazing people in the community that give to others. Enid is home to many generous people…people that volunteer their time and resources to take care of others. The holidays often put an extra strain on people that already struggle to obtain necessities of food and clothing, let alone toys or extra items for Christmas.
In addition to the generous efforts mentioned earlier in the article by organizers of The One, The City of Enid and Vance Spouses Club, there are organizations in town that work especially hard throughout the holiday season to provide for those in need. If people have resources to spare and have not obligated funds or items already there are plenty of places to contribute.
Spruce Up a Life Campaign is an annual campaign organized by the Salvation Army. Organizations pay a set amount to sponsor a tree, attend an annual decorating event and then choose angels representing families to provide items for. Traditionally the event is held the first part of November with distribution to families the first part of December.
Gail Wheeler has kept the good work her late husband, Larry Wheeler started for the annual Toys for Tots campaign. While the campaign is based in Wheeler’s hometown of Lahoma, Toys for Tots has been providing toys to less fortunate children in the Enid area since 1991. According to the website, 2638 toys were distributed, and 795 children were supported.
Santa For Seniors is a program that was started in 2016 and is a program of RSVP of Enid. The program serves many seniors in the community who are alone during the holidays and receive little or no gifts. A wish list of items needed and ways to donate can be found on the RSVP Enid Facebook page. The RSVP Social Center supports seniors sixty and over in the community by providing a place for those that are able to gather for activities and have an inexpensive meal with others. They are open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Most recently, the center has been accepting donations of food items for the pantry which provides groceries to seniors who do not qualify or are on a waiting list for a monthly commodity box. Donation ideas include vegetables, fruit, soups, boxes of macaroni and cheese and Jell-o just to name a few.
Loaves and Fishes, and Our Daily Bread are amazing resources for those in need of groceries or a meal in our community. The YWCA shelter is always a great place to donate items in support of women and children that are currently utilizing services. Youth and Family Services provides a wide range of services and is an incredible resource for young people. Catholic Charities also provides a variety of relief to those in need.
The organizations listed above are only a portion of those that rely on the generosity of the community for assistance. The ending credits of Enid’s Hallmark Movie would have to recognize the people that live here for stepping up and meeting the needs of their neighbors.