Rock Hill promises more ‘wow’ for this year’s ChristmasVille festival

ChristmasVille, the annual event that turns downtown Rock Hill into something out of a storybook, promises even more “wow” this holiday season – the chance to slip, slide and skate at an outdoor rink.

In conjunction with the city and Founders Federal Credit Union, ChristmasVille will have an 50-foot by 85-foot ice rink adjacent to Fountain Park from Nov. 15 to Jan. 15.

“It will be an ideal winter wonderland escape,” said Bruce Brumfield, Founders chief operating officer. And, with a laugh, Brumfield added it might even provide some business for Piedmont Medical Center, a longtime sponsor of ChristmasVille.

The cost is $10 per ticket which includes the skate rental. The rink will be at 205 Saluda St. Fountain Park will open soon and will be bounded by Elizabeth Avenue, Saluda, East Main and East Black streets.

The skating rink was one of several new attractions announced Wednesday as ChristmasVille officials gave a preview of the ninth annual event and thanked all the sponsors and volunteers.

Events new or expanded include:

•  A bigger indoors Santa’s Toy Workshop that includes 10 different stations where children can learn to be Santa’s junior gnomes for the day, a Hero’s Headquarters where children can meet doctors, nurses, and members of the police, sheriff’s office and the National Guard – and a chance for children to write their names in the book of “Naughty or Nice.”

•  The grand opening of Festival Park at 9 a.m. on Dec. 6.

•  And, before the festival officially starts, the annual arrival of Santa. This year’s arrival is scheduled between 6:30 and 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 2 at Fountain Park. Santa arrives at ChristmasVille in a dramatic, secret fashion and he promises this year’s arrival to be a “big surprise that I think you’ll like.” There also will be a music, a sing-along and a tree-lighting ceremony that night.

ChristmasVille runs from Dec. 4 to Dec. 7. Most events are free but a few have a nominal fee.

The theme for this festival is the “gift that goes on and on and on.”

Jane Hayes, chair of this year’s festival, asked attendees to bring donations to various events: new toys to Santa’s Workshop for the Toys for Happiness drive, jars of peanut butter and jelly to the author’s luncheon for Renew Our Community, travel-sized toiletries to the Lighting of the Village and the grand finale for The Haven men’s shelter, children’s pajamas to the Pajamara Party for the Children’s Attention Home, dollars for the The Giving Tree event to vote for your favorite tree decorated by nonprofit organizations, and donations for the Salvation Army kettles.

Santa made a brief appearance Wednesday, telling junior gnomes Katherine and Charlotte Overman and Laura Skroban about the importance of leaving him cookies – they help improve the volume of his “Ho, ho, ho,” he said. Santa signed notes for the girls, excusing them from missing a portion of school Wednesday.

Santa also encouraged children to be good year-round and to remember the real reason for the season.

“Santa Claus loves hope and joy,” he said.