A Pine Belt Christmas
By Alicia Stevens
The sweet minty scents around every corner, and the cool nip at our noses, confirms the holiday season is here! Hattiesburg is bustling with many activities to enjoy during this time of year. Here are just three suggestions for family fun during this month of celebration.
Christmas Open House: African American Military History Museum
The African American Military History Museum will host its annual Christmas Open House on Dec. 8 from 12 to 2 p.m. at the museum, located at 305 East 6th St., Hattiesburg.
“We welcome the community for this free event, for a time of fellowship, and to celebrate the season,” Latoya Norman, general manager of the museum, said.
“Carolers will set the tone while guests enjoy complimentary refreshments, tour the museum and take pictures with Santa,” she continued.
Visitors may also bring up to three gifts, for which they can receive free gift wrapping.
The event also supports Toys for Tots, so guests who want to help make a needy child’s holidays brighter are encouraged to donate items to support this effort.
Olde Tyme Christmas
On December 8 and 9, the streets of downtown Hattiesburg will be lined with luminaries while turning back the hands of time for the Olde Tyme Christmas.
This family-friendly holiday event will offer 15 to 20 minute carriage rides from 5 to 9 p.m. Carriage rides cost $10 for adults and $5 for children younger than age 12. Tickets for this, and for the holiday tour of homes — which will include the masonic lodge — are available at the Walthall. Refreshments will also be available for purchase.
Hattiesburg Zoo: Zoo Lights & Holiday Market
The Hattiesburg Zoo welcomes the Christmas season by hosting its annual Zoo Lights & Holiday Market. This multi-day event takes place from Dec. 14 through 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Carolers will greet visitors nightly and there will be themed activities on various nights. Expect to find train rides to see the zoo’s seasonal décor; unlimited carousel rides; Feliz Navidad at Camp Capybara; shopping at the Holiday Market; letters to Santa; story time with Mrs. Claus; and animal encounters.
All of this awaits visitors, along with reindeer food to take home, and a complimentary holiday cookie. A cup of hot cocoa — or, for the 21-and-over crowd, a warm cup of mulled wine — will also be offered. Santa will also be in the area available to take pictures with the little ones every night.
The Holiday Market occurring simultaneously will offer handcrafted gifts such as children’s books, hand painted glassware, jewelry, games and blankets created by a variety of local vendors.
Tickets cost $10 each, with children aged two and younger admitted free. Group rates are also available online or at the gate.
The month of December is full of wonderful fun and holiday cheer, so enjoy, laugh and make merry with friends and family alike.
Alicia Stevens, a resident of Pearl River County, is a freelance writer, wife and mother of two who enjoys travelling with her family and friends.
Even More Holiday Ideas From the Pine Belt…
By Mary C. Fairley
A former president of William Carey University, the late Dr. William Wheeler, said in order to feel the Christmas spirit, he needed to hear Handel’s Messiah and read “The Story of the Other Wise Man,” by Henry van Dyke. It became a tradition.
Why not order your own copy, add the Hallelujah chorus to your music playlist, and enjoy it all while you sip rich hot chocolate with family?
There are other holiday traditions Pine Belt families can also enjoy this year. Here are a few ideas:
Pine Belt Holiday Expo & Christmas Market
Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Historic Train Depot, Downtown Hattiesburg
Holiday shopping, food and beverage sampling, and kids’ activities.
December 1, 7 p.m.
Saenger Theatre, 201 Forrest St., Hattiesburg
Young dancers in your family will enjoy the Alpha and Omega companies performing the “Light Has Come.” Tickets are $25, and all proceeds will benefit Christian Services’ Meals on Wheels.
Christmas in the Orchard: Fulmer’s Farmstead
December 1-3 and 8-10, 6 to 9 p.m.
Fulmer’s Farmstead, Wingate Road, Richton
This is billed as a “unique family-friendly Christmas Experience.” Under the pecan tree canopy, enjoy carriage and hay rides; Dickens-style carolers; historical walk-through cabins; and banjo music. Have a candlelit dinner. Free s’mores kits and hot chocolate are also available.
Now go enjoy a Pine Belt Christmas with your family!
Freelance writer Mary C. Fairley is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. One of her favorite activities is baking Christmas cookies with her five beloved grandchildren.