Santa Claus will be spending more time at ChristmasVille this year.
Santa usually arrives in downtown Rock Hill a couple of days prior to the holiday festival’s opening, making a quick in-and-out dash – so quick that he parks his sleigh and relies on the transportation such as helicopters, motorcycles or even emergency vehicles.
In past years, Santa’s appearance was usually a daytime event, resulting in “so many people missing his arrival,” said ChristmasVille chair Mikki Rentschler.
This year, Santa arrives on Dec. 3, the first day of the festival, as part of the 7 p.m. opening ceremonies at Fountain Park. After the opening ceremony, Santa and Mrs. Claus will walk to the First Presbyterian Church, 234 E. Main St., for a “Cookies and Cocoa with Santa,” one of festival’s new events.
Children not only can share cookies and cocoa with Santa Claus, they also can get their pictures taken with him and share their wish list. The event is free.
The 10th anniversary of the festival features more than 65 events in four days, among them an homage to Santa Claus through the art of the late Vernon Grant.
“Grant loved to draw Santa Claus,” Rentschler said. Grant, who lived in the Rock Hill area, was the creator of Snap, Crackle and Pop for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.
In past festivals, 12 of Grant’s Santa Claus drawings were displayed. This year, more than 100 Grant Santas will be displayed at four locations, the Center for the Arts, 121 E. Main St, the Gettys Center , 201 E. Main St., the City Hall Rotunda, 144 E. Black Street, and Courtroom Gallery of the Gettys Center, 201 E. Main Street.
Terry Rouche of Rock Hill repaired damage to the Grant artwork. He then photographed the artwork for display.
Other Santa events for the festival include Santa’s Mailbox on Main Street, the Jingle Bell Parade (with children being led by Santa and Mrs. Claus) on Dec. 5-6 , Santa’s Toy Workshop in the Palmetto Room, 135 E. Main St. on Dec. 5-6, and Story with Santa in the Garden at Glencairn, Dec. 5 at 11:30 a.m.
“Christmasville is all about the art, the storybook and the whimsy,” Rentschler said.
Other new events this year include:
▪ The VIG Club or Very Important Gnome Club. The first 150 children to join will receive a keepsake ornament and an activity with Santa. A portion of each membership fee will be used to purchase all-access wristbands for “deserving area children,” festival officials said. Cost is $30 per child. Applications at www.christmasvillerockhill.com
▪ Where is Grant the Gnome scavenger hunt, Dec. 5-6. There will be a sheet of clues at the festival’s information booth on Main Street. Participants can either take a “selfie” of themselves with the Grant gnome, or write the answers on a clue sheet. Winners can claim a prize at the information booth.
There also are two adult-specific events. Before the opening ceremony there will be a two-hour “Chocolate and Wine Tasting” event at the Courtroom Gallery of the Gettys Center. To register for the event, go to Batchcraft.com.
The other event is “Scotch and Bourbon Tasting,” on Dec. 5 from 3 to 6 p.m., also at the Gettys Courtroom Gallery.
Popular events returning include:
▪ The Author’s Luncheon, featuring Christian author Melody Carlson. Tickets are $20. They are for sale at the York County Visitors Center, 452 S. Anderson Road. For information, call 888-702-1320.
▪ The city’s Christmas Parade from Oakland Avenue near Winthrop to downtown Rock Hill, Dec. 4 starting at 6:30 p.m.
▪ The Founders Holiday Ice Rink at Fountain Park, Nov. 20 through Jan. 10. Tickets are $10.
▪ The Grand Finale will be Dec. 6 starting at 5 p.m., at the stage near 113 E. Main Street.
The year’s theme is “A Decade of Reflections.” The annual festival attracts about 65,000 visitors.
For a complete list of ChristmasVille events, go to http://www.christmasvillerockhill.com/