ChristmasVille in Rock Hill, South CarolinaGARDENS & PARKS, GUEST BLOGGERS, SHOWS/FESTIVALS/HOLIDAYS, USA MAINLAND — By Terri Harper on December 15, 2011 at 01:15
Story by guest blogger Terri Harper. Photos Copyright © Terri Harper.
SANTA ARRIVED IN ChristmasVille at Glencairn Garden, Rock Hill, South Carolina on an adorable modern-day sleigh loaded with presents. It was a perfect southern December day for children to hear A Story With Santa in the Garden.
Santa sat on the porch of the old Bigger House located in the garden and read Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer to an attentive crowd of youngsters and parents.
After the story, everyone lined up and eagerly awaited the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap and spill their hearts’ desires. While waiting in line, parents and their excited children were served hot chocolate and sugar cookies as they enjoyed the cheery decorated front porch.
Delightful Chatty Evergreen intrigued all wearing her tree costume, decorated with lights and ornaments. Being true to her name she was quite talkative, which helped pass the time spent waiting in line.
Intentionally, there was not a professional photographer present, which gave local families the opportunity to take photos of their children with Santa using their own cameras. Parents were encouraged to take as long as they needed to get the “just right” photo of their kids on Santa’s lap.
After visiting Santa, the children went to the patio where the American Red Cross had a table set up for Holiday Mail for Heroes. Children were asked to make Christmas cards for veterans and people serving in the military who will not be home for Christmas. To see how much thought and effort the children put into their drawings and messages endeared the heart.
From Glencairn Garden I traveled a few blocks to Main Street, ChristmasVille’s epicenter. Since its inception six years ago, ChristmasVille has been a fun-filled, event-packed dazzling festival complemented by Santas and gnomes from the renowned illustrator, Vernon Grant.
The free event is sponsored by the city of Rock Hill and has won Best Christmas Event in South Carolina for the past four years.
For four days during ChristmasVille, Main Street is filled with merriment. The light poles proudly display flags of Vernon Grant’s whimsical Santas.
Along Main Street there are exhibits, artisans, The Grinch, a polar bear, Santa, Dickens characters, and plenty of gnomes. Also, rides for children, a village of inflatable bounce houses, a Ferris wheel, a trolley, and even a horse-drawn carriage. They have it all at ChristmasVille!
On center stage, local performing arts groups provide entertainment all day throughout the festival. I arrived late in the day and enjoyed seeing the last performance while having a pleasant conversation with an on-duty police officer.
Wandering into the Center for the Arts, I was enchanted with Vernon Grant’s Santas and fantasy gnomes, and the keenly imaginative gingerbread houses.
The gingerbread houses, made by professional chefs, amateurs and youth, were entered in a People’s Choice Contest.
My favorite gingerbread house was the Santa Snowman Repair Shop. Broken snowmen wait in the yard for their turn to enter the repair shop that was “Now Serving #8.” Penguins make up the repair crew. Piles of snowballs in the yard are on hand to repair their bodies.
The back of the building is an open-air repair shop (of course, so they won’t melt!). For the repair jobs there’s a bucket of arms, a box of carrots marked “Noses,” a box of magical hats, and stacks of scarves. This gingerbread house and all its detail captivated me. Not surprising it won first place.
Vernon Grant (1902–1990) created Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal characters, Snap!, Crackle! and Pop! A whimsical illustrator who created many characters for children’s book, illustrated thousands of advertisements and over 250 magazine covers, Grant was a long-time resident and outstanding citizen of Rock Hill until his death at age 88.
Grant’s favorite character to draw was Santa. His famous Santa illustrations lined the walls of the art center.
In the window of the gallery was a Christmas tree adorned with gnomes’ faces created by local third graders, led by their art teacher. Grant’s first fame was with his doodles of gnomes and they are well represented at ChristmasVille.
Walking along Main Street that evening, I was treated to hear carolers (members of local performing arts groups) who were dressed as Dickens characters.
ChristmasVille sets the heart aglow. I’ll remember this delightful day for a long time.
Terri Harper lives in South Carolina with her six feline companions. She’s a free-spirited explorer, often traveling solo without an itinerary. She’s been to 49 states on personal road trips and out of the country a handful of times. Her aspiration is to camp in all of America’s National Parks and visit Hawaii.