By: Tom Fink | Category: Rogers County | Issue: November 2021
Some of Santa’s elves who have been helping to coordinate Christmas cheer and activities this year in Claremore include Nancy Phelps and Layla Freeman, Light of Hope (from left), Tanya Andrews, Visit Claremore and Lisa Wilson, executive assistant, City of Claremore.
November, 2021: Christmastime comes early and stays late this year in the city of Claremore. Let your heart warm to the Christmas spirit and veritable host of fun meaningful activities for every member of the family.
Behind the scenes, Santa’s elves – notably Tanya Andrews with Visit Claremore, Layla Freeman and Nancy Phelps with Light of Hope, and an army of staff and volunteers have been making their lists and checking them twice to ensure months of fun, safe Christmas activities for the Claremore community and its holiday guests.
Thursday, Nov. 18
Ne-Mar Christmas Tree Lighting & Free Photos with Santa Claus
“First off, we’re going to be kicking off the Christmas season at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, with a tree lighting celebration at Ne-Mar Center,” Andrews began. “There will be hot cocoa and cookies, with Safenet providing the hot cocoa and Visit Claremore providing the cookies, all of which will be free.
“Not only that, but Santa will be on-hand to visit with the children and to be available for photos – also for free,” she continued. “We’ll have a community prayer being offered by some of our local church community members, after which, we’ll light the tree and officially kick off the Christmas season in Claremore.”
Some of the merchants at Ne-Mar Center, located at 1000 W. Will Rogers Boulevard in Claremore, may opt to stay open for extended hours due for the evening, Andrews said, allowing some to get started on their Christmas shopping early.
Dickens on the Boulevard
After this, a Claremore tradition returns to the downtown area with Dickens of the Boulevard on Friday, Nov. 19, and Saturday, Nov. 20.
Dickens on the Boulevard is a Victorian-themed Christmas festival which will be in its 26th year this year. Traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving, the festivities begin at 6 p.m. each evening as visitor to the downtown area of Claremore can enjoy live stage entertainment, food, pictures with Santa, a living Nativity, and much more in the spirit of Christmas as it would have been during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Previous Dickens on the Boulevard celebrations have included food vendors, Victorian street dances and Western-themed re-enactments, with living window displays peppering the downtown area while and artisan village features living history demonstrations. Victorian-era re-enactors, including hand-spinners, potters, craftsmen, and more will line the street to answer questions from the public while selling their wares.
Should horse drawn carriage rides be available, guests can enjoy a traditional ride through Claremore’s downtown area for a nominal fee.
Attendance to Dickens on the Boulevard is free. This event will be held from 6-9 p.m. both evenings.
Light of Hope “Lights On” drive-thru Light Displays at Claremore Park.
“In addition to the tree lighting and Dickens, the City of Claremore in tandem with Light of Hope, will be lighting up Claremore Lake Park,” Andrews said. “It’s been a vision for people in the community to have a drive-thru Christmas lights display, and Claremore Lake is the perfect place for that.
“The city had some equipment which was surplus, and those funds are helping to fund this lighting project,” she said. “This will be the first year for this, so the lights will only be going so far – from the lake entrance and into the park – but it’s the city’s goal that in the next five years, the entire stretch of the Lake Park Road will be lit up during Christmas. These (lights) will come on at dusk, so people can drive through the lake park and enjoy a Christmas light display from the comfort of their vehicle.”
Christmas lights at Claremore Lake will be up through the first of the New Year, Andrews said.
Light of Hope’s “Illuminating Hope” Christmas light tour and celebration also will be a part of the seasonal activities.
“Last year was our first ‘Illuminating Hope’, at which we did a memory tree and luminara walk at the lake, with a Christmas light drive throughout Rogers County,” said Layla Freeman, Light of Hope founder. “People would pick up maps at various locations around town and go on a Christmas light tour all-around town, with the lake being one of those destinations.
“This (event) was such a success, especially with the lights at the lake – people going there and seeing the lights reflected on the water – it gave people such special, meaningful moments,” she continued. “The city reached out to us to see if we would want to continue that, but with them at the lake since they were creating a drive-thru light display, and it seemed like a perfect tie-together. We’ll still have various destinations (for Christmas light displays), as well.
As part of “Illuminating Hope,” Light of Hope will have its Transformation Tree near the Lake Ranger’s station, at which people can park, draw closer to the tree and pay tribute to their loved ones.
“We’ll have volunteers to help people at the luminaria walk and the Transformation (Christmas) Tree,” Freeman said. “The tree is lit up with white lights, but people can choose a colored bulb that’s the favorite color of a loved one, which then replaces one of the white lights – it’s a special moment of reflection.
“Nearby this is a circular area where people can write a message to a loved one or someone they miss on a luminaria bag, which our volunteers fill with sand and a tea light, and people can then place this on the luminaria walk,” she said. “It’s very meaningful.”
Nov. 18 – Dec. 17
Light of Hope Santa Claus & Christmas Stories, Gifts of Hope
Light of Hope also will be hosting its own Santa Claus, complete with a gazebo and Christmas trappings, every Friday at Ne-Mar Center, beginning with the tree lighting and through Dec.17 from 6-9 p.m. for pictures. During the tree lighting, Santa also will be reading a Christmas story to the children.
In addition to the lake activities, Light of Hope also will be hosting “Gifts of Hope” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Light of Hope office at 403 W. First Street in Claremore, to allow more opportunities for early Christmas shopping, with proceeds to benefit Light of Hope.
Light of Hope is a Claremore-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry for addiction and other life difficulties, assisting families and individuals through support groups, community education, school drug education, workplace readiness, helpful resources and encouragement for the future.
Andrews said the city will “flip the switch” for the Christmas light drive-thru Nov. 27.
Will’s Country Christmas & Pictures with Santa at the Will Rogers Memorial & Claremore’s Christmas Parade drive-thru Tour at RSU
But it wouldn’t be Rogers County without Will Rogers…the most fun of all!
Will’s Country Christmas will be held at the Birthplace Ranch in Oologah Dec. 3 and 4, and the Will Rogers Memorial Museum will be offering photos with Santa at 2 p.m. on Dec. 4 and the 11th.
Claremore’s Christmas Parade will be held Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m. and will be a drive-thru tour at Rogers State University.
As there is no mask mandate in the City of Claremore, masks are not required at its events, although
social distancing is advised when possible.
For more information or to stay up to date on Christmas and other activities in Claremore, visit https://visitclaremore.org/ or https://www.lightofhopeinc.org/
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