Celebrating the season; Christmas in the City kicks off the Yuletide season in Austin

Published 11:25 am Friday, November 20, 2015

Riley Clayton tells Santa Claus what he wants for Christmas during Christmas in the City last year. -- Herald file photos

Riley Clayton tells Santa Claus what he wants for Christmas during Christmas in the City last year. — Herald file photos

Santa Claus is about to soar into east Austin and other spots around town.

Not only is Austin’s annual Christmas kickoff coming with next Friday’s Christmas in the City, but the annual string of holiday events is expanding with the first Christmas in the East.

The Austin Area Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Christmas in the City kickoff celebration in downtown Austin next Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by the annual Jane Taylor Academy of Dance Christmas Show with scenes from “The Nutcracker” at 7:30 p.m. at the Historic Paramount Theatre.

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Then on Dec. 2, Austin will host its first Christmas in the East, with Santa flying in to Austin Municipal Airport around 5:30 p.m. for an event at the Mower County Humane Society.

Overall, about 11 businesses and organizations will participate in the inaugural Christmas in the East: the animal shelter and Independent Management Services from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., while others on 11th Street Northeast like Jim’s MartketPlace Foods and the Eagles Club and 10th Drive Southeast businesses like Trimble’s Cycle Center and Y Waste Removal will host festivities from 4 to 7 p.m.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm from those members over there,” Austin Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandy Forstner said. “They haven’t been part of it before. They’ve seen it succeed in other areas, and they’re putting their best foot forward, that’s for sure.”

Along with Christmas in the East, Christmas in the Northwest will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 1, followed by Christmas in the Southwest from 4 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 3, and Christmas in the County at the Mower County Historical Society from 3 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 12, which will include its presale bake sale from 4 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 11.

In all, more than 80 businesses and organizations are expected to participate in the events. Like in past years, Forstner expects Christmas in the City to be the largest of them all on Nov. 27, at it serves as Austin’s start to the holiday season.

“It’s become a tradition here in Austin,” said Forstner, who added many people make it a part of their holiday weekend.

While much of the downtown celebration will be the same as past years, there will be three sleighs for sleigh rides instead of two to make for shorter waits. The Jane Taylor Academy of Dance Christmas Show will return to the Paramount after moving to Pacelli Catholic School last year due to scheduling, and Forstner was pleased to see it return to downtown.

“It just really works a lot better for other events when it all works like this,” Forstner said.

But overall, a big part of all the chamber’s Christmas in the City events is to promote local businesses. While some sales occur during the celebrations, a big goal is to bring shoppers into stores to see what’s available and to promote spending and buying locally.

“It’s the celebration of the community, its a celebration of the season, but it at the same time thanks people for shopping locally,” Forstner said.

Along with the Christmas in the City events, other holiday events include the Christmas Time Countdown/Holiday Tree Show in the open area along Fourth Avenue Northeast from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 5, Merry Tuba Christmas at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Paramount, the Christmas at Home shows featuring Austin Public Schools talent at the Paramount at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 19, and Bridget’s Dance Conservatory’s “Alice in Wonderland” at 5 p.m. on Dec. 20 in Austin High School’s Knowlton Auditorium, just to name a few.

Though the main portion of Oak Park Mall closed after the sale to Hy-Vee, Younkers is bringing Santa Claus back to the mall area. Santa Claus will be at Younkers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 5. Manager Randy Forster encouraged people to bring their cell phones or cameras for photos.

“Were anticipating that will be a big event,” he said.

Check out all the Christmas in the City schedules below