AUSTIN— Get in the holiday spirit by celebrating at a Texas State Park. Throughout the month of December, 42 state parks around Texas are hosting more than 60 holiday events including light displays, taffy pulls, a balloon glow and geocaching.
Step back in time and see how the holidays would have been celebrated on the Battleship Texas at its Yuletide Texas event 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Battleship Texas State Historic Site near Houston. Staff on the historic ship will recreate classic Christmas traditions crew would have experienced during their time afloat while the ship was in service. Younger visiting sailors will also have a chance to take a photo with Santa and transmit a message directly to the North Pole from the ship’s post office.
On Dec. 2, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in South Texas will host its fourth annual Christmas boat parade. A stream of boats dressed in glittering Christmas lights floating on the lake will put on a show for visitors around the lake to enjoy. The event begins at 7 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m.
The 48th annual tree lighting at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site Sunday, Dec. 17, from 6-9 p.m. is a Hill Country tradition started by the president and first lady Johnson which has continued for nearly half a century. The event highlights some German holiday traditions of the region. The evening also features carolers, a live nativity, Santa Claus and refreshments. Revisit the past at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm. The farm will be decorated the way families would have celebrated the holidays in the early 1900s.
In the Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon State Park will feature a one-of-a-kind balloon glow against the backdrop of the canyon 5-8 p.m. Dec. 16. The park will have hot chocolate, festive live music and a special appearance by Santa. Kids can also create a lasting souvenir with a park-themed ornament. Entry to the park will be free with the donation of canned goods and other nonperishable food items at 4 p.m. All food items will go to the High Plains Food Bank.
The eighth annual Santa Christmas hike will be held at Wyler Aerial Tramway in El Paso 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 31. The hike will take visitors to the top of Ranger Peak where cups of hot chocolate, apple cider and coffee and a spectacular view await.
Want to bring Texas State Parks home for the holidays? Commemorate parks and the holidays with a Texas State Park ornament. For more than 15 years, the annual park Christmas ornaments have featured some of the most recognizable Texas State Parks landscapes. This year, the ornaments depict the hallowed halls of Garner State Park, paddlers at Village Creek State Park and prairie dogs at Lake Arrowhead State Park. The wooden ornaments are available for purchase for $8.95 each or $19.95 for the set of three. To purchase them, call 512-389-8900.
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is also offering a special subscription deal for the holidays. Anyone can give two gift subscriptions to the magazine for just $15. Don’t want to feel left out? Give yourself the gift of the outdoors for an additional $5. Subscriptions can be ordered online at http://bit.ly/TPWMagholiday17.