By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Kick off the holiday season today with two, free family-friendly events filled with music, twinkling lights and good cheer.
Then get a second dose of ho-ho-ho Saturday with Reed’s Tupelo Christmas Parade.
The festivities start with the city’s annual Lighting of Ballard Park at 5:45 p.m. today at the Ballard Park Gazebo, followed by an open house at the adjacent Oren Dunn City Museum.
It will feature music by the Joyner Street Elementary School First-Grade Choir and the Tupelo Middle School Renaissance Singers and Singing Servers. The winners of the city’s “What the Holiday Season Means to Me” essay contest also will be announced.
“First-place winners will read their essays, and they’ll be the ones flipping the switch” to light up the park, said Shanta Eiland of the city Parks and Recreation Department.
Workers have spent days stringing lights and erecting holiday displays throughout the large park in west Tupelo to get ready for the event. Between 500 and 800 people are expected to attend.
Just a few miles to the east, the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association will have its third annual North Pole Stroll from 5:30 to 8 p.m. today. More than a dozen merchants will offer special sales, holiday games and drawings for gift certificates.
Participants also can enjoy free carriage rides and listen to live performances by Lane Chapel Quarter, First United Methodist Church Handbell Choir and the Tupelo High School Madrigals.
Santa Claus will make an appearance at Swirlz, and children can send their holiday letters to the big man at Monogram It.
Those who bring a nonperishable food item can register to win $100 in Downtown Dollars, to be drawn once each week in December.
“We have had 200 to 300 people in the past,” said DTMSA Executive Director Debbie Brangenberg. “It’s just a good event, and it’s a lot of fun.”
While downtown, residents can stop by the Lyric Theatre at 8 p.m. for the official lighting of the renovated marquee.
On Saturday, the 62nd annual Reed’s Tupelo Christmas Parade will roll downtown starting at 10 a.m. The parade starts at the BancorpSouth Arena and will go west on Jefferson Street, south on Robins Street and east on Main Street before disbanding at Fairpark.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.