The Abilene Cultural Affairs Council hosted its first Christmas in the Garden: A Night on the Polar Express event on Nov. 30 at the Abilene Convention Center in the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden.
Availability for the event closed in the morning due to a high registration rate for the event.
Attendees were sipped on hot chocolate, took photos with storybook characters such as Stuart Little and the Grinch, joined in children’s activities, train rides and visits with Santa.
In preparation for the event, former art & design professor Jack Maxwell painted some of the backdrops that were used on the train ride and former theatre professor Gary Varner choreographed some of the dance routines for volunteers on the train ride.
Sidney Levesque, marketing director for the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, said they created the event because they wanted to add to the City Sidewalks event.
“With all the events that are going on around City Sidewalks we decided since we were decorating the garden and there were activities going on all week downtown, that we should have an event so we created Christmas in the Garden,” Levesque said.
Lynn Barnett, executive director of the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, said she is appreciative of the turnout and the generosity of the volunteers to help put this event on.
“We are thrilled with how the event turned out and have received such positive feedback from the more than 800 people who attended,” Barnett said. “We are so appreciative of our sponsor Perry Hunter Hall, volunteers from the Abilene Christian University and Hardin Simmons University theatre departments as well as the Big Country Home School Association and LYNAY for partnering with us on this community event. Christmas in the Garden is another wonderful example of how arts build community.”
Levesque said they are looking into possibly holding this event next year over two nights due to the high attendance feedback.
“We’re pretty sure we are going to bring this event back next year,” said Levesque. “There’s a possibility we are going make it two nights, it takes quite a bit of volunteer to put on an event like this. I think our volunteer organizer has about 40 volunteers lined up so as long as we can get the volunteers next year, I think we are going to hope to have it at least two nights.”