USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial

Celebrate the Holidays in our Parks

December 17, 2009, 10:13 am
Here’s our roundup of holiday events at parks across the country.
 
 
Holiday Homecoming at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC         
On Saturday, December 19, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the Mountain Farm Museum. Enjoy historical demonstrations and holiday music from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and snack on free hot cider and cookies. The visitor center will be decorated for the holiday season and will include an exhibit on Christmas in the mountains in the past. The Davis/Queen farmhouse at the Mountain Farm Museum will also be open for guests to visit. Demonstrations will include woodworking, making cornshuck dolls and handmade brooms. Visitors may also have an opportunity to make beeswax candles. Local musicians will be on hand to provide traditional holiday music and other old-time tunes.
 
This year’s highlight is local author George Ellison, who will be on hand to discuss and sign copies of Horace Kephart’s "lost" novel, Smoky Mountain Magic, which is now in print—80 years after its completion! Ellison has special insight into the life and writings of Kephart, and penned the introduction to the newly released novel.
 
The Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum are located on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Highway 441), two miles north of Cherokee, N.C. For more information call the visitor center at (828) 497-1904. All activities are free and open to the public. Generous support of this event is provided by Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
 
Pearl Harbor Holiday Lights Tours, USS Arizona Memorial, HI          
The U.S. Navy and National Park Service will be offering free evening boat tours of Pearl Harbor from December 18 to 20. The tours will leave from and return to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center on a first-come, first-served basis between 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
 
The 30-minute tours will feature Christmas music and the boats will pass through the harbor where the ships are decorated for the Christmas season. This is a great chance for kids and adults to see warships and submarines up close while aboard a 150-passenger tour boat.
 
Tickets and parking are available each evening starting at 5:15 p.m. at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, which is located off of Kamehameha Highway near Richardson Field and the Aloha Stadium.
 
NOTE: Due to enhanced security measures, handbags, purses, packs and other items that can conceal weapons, are not allowed in the visitor center or aboard the tour boats. Do not leave valuables in your car. Since it can become chilly, a light jacket or sweater is recommended.
 
For more information contact the Visitor Center Front Desk at (808) 422-2771 x 119
 
Gatlinburg Winter Magic, Gatlinburg, TN
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, just outside Great Smoky National Park, is aglow with holiday spirit as Winter Magic takes to the streets of downtown. Follow the holiday lights to an enchanting, four-month celebration of winter and the holiday season, perfect for the whole family. Experience the magic of the Higher Ground Spirit with a series of whimsical performances, parades and other festive events to ring in the holidays.
 
Not quite done with gift shopping? No problem. Gatlinburg is full of eclectic shops, guaranteed to inspire that perfect gift idea. From homemade delights at our local candy shops to our artisan community and everything in between, Gatlinburg is a shopper’s haven for the holiday season and you’ll have no problem finding last minute gifts for even the hardest to please friends and relatives.
 
And to end your 2009 on Higher Ground, don’t miss out on Gatlinburg’s epic New Year’s Eve Ball Drop & Fireworks on December 31st. Join 40,000 other inspiration seekers on the community’s streets for an explosive and musical celebration of the New Year.
 
Holiday Cactus Caravan, Saguaro National Park, AZ
OnDecember 30, explore the natural lore of the solstice holiday on a unique nighttime drive through the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. You’ll find out how nature’s own holiday decorations have come to symbolize the season, with stars, evergreens, and seasonal wildlife of the desert.  Auto tours will be offered every half hour from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and will feature several stops along the eight-mile Cactus Forest Drive—open to cars at night only on this night of the year.  Each tour lasts approximately one and a half hours. The Rincon Mountain Visitor Center will serve cookies and cider all evening. 
 
As space is limited, advanced reservations are required and can be made by calling (520) 733-5153.  This program is wheelchair accessible.
 
National Christmas Tree Program, President’s Park, Washington, D.C.
The National Christmas Tree can bee seen every night through January 1 on the White House Ellipse. In what becomes the “Christmas Pathway of Peace,” the National Christmas Tree and 56 smaller trees—one for each state, one for each of five territories, and one for the District of Columbia—are also on display. All 57 trees will be lit each evening at dusk until 11 p.m. Sponsoring organizations in each state provide the tree decorations, which are encased in protective plastic globes to shield them from the weather.
 
Seasonal displays include a Yule log and a large-scale model train. For the 15th consecutive year, the National Christmas Tree Railroad will provide model trains that surround the base of the National Christmas Tree. The trains will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through January 1. For the second time this year, the seasonal displays will include a Santa’s Workshop sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories. The workshop will be open at select times for children to visit with Santa.
 
Musical entertainment, featuring performances by volunteer choirs, bands, and dancers, will be held nightly on the Ellipse stage during the month of December. Weeknight performances will take place between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Weekend performances will take place between 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. It’s free; no tickets required!

**Haven't found a park near you? Check NPS.gov for a complete listing of holiday events across the country.