JACKSON — The holiday season in Jackson will officially kick off the weekend of Dec. 3-4 with two perennially popular events.

Toyland, a beloved holiday tradition featuring model trains, holiday tables, photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and treats, will return to the Melvin Cottrell Senior Center, 45 Don Connor Blvd., Dec. 3-4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day.

The event returns after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jackson’s Christmas Tree Lighting will take place on December 4th at 4:30pm at the Municipal Building, 95 West Veterans Highway. The outdoor event will include entertainment, refreshments and a visit with Santa.

“Toyland is a long-standing tradition in town,” said Kate Slisky, director of the senior center, which hosts the event. “It’s been going on for over 20 years and it’s grown and grown. In 2019, we had 1,200 to 1,400 people every day. Toyland is open to anyone who wants to come, of any age.”

Admission to Toyland is free, and every child under 10 will receive a teddy bear that has been lovingly dressed by members of the senior center, while supplies last, she said.

“We’ve worked with the Salvation Army for many years and they donate teddy bears,” explained Slisky, “Our seniors knit bear outfits, a dress or a handmade sweater, scarf and hat for each bear. And every child up to 10 years old will receive a free teddy bear dressed in an outfit made by an elder.”

According to Slisky, even though the senior center was closed due to the pandemic, that didn’t stop seniors who continued to knit bear outfits from yarn that senior center staff delivered to their homes.

“The seniors knew they had a job, and they knew they had a purpose,” she said. “It was really, really important for us to keep it going and give them a reason to be busy.”

In Toyland, children can visit Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, enjoy cookies and juice, and leave a letter in Santa’s mailbox.

Another attraction of the Land of Toys will be a gift shop, where young people can choose gifts for family members.

“The gifts are $2 and $3 so kids can come in and buy outfits for their teddy bears, and for $20 they can get gifts for the whole family,” Slisky said.

The senior center partners with the Salvation Army, whose volunteers help set up the event, including a kitchen with nachos, hot dogs and other light fare.

Volunteers include representatives of different generations. They include students from Jackson Liberty and Jackson Memorial High Schools, who help staff the gift shop, bake sale, face painting and balloon making, and dress up as characters.

“We have them (dress up) as Batman and Robin, as princes and princesses, and as characters from ‘Frozen’ and ‘Toy Story.’ They play the role of greeters and take pictures with children on different stages,” said Slisky.

During the Toyland event, the senior center will be decorated with giant displays and model trains with themes including Toy Story and Frozen.

“We have a working train room that includes mountain scenes. The conductor is Craig, one of our senior staff. We will have little Lego Batman and Robin and Joker. As the train passes over the mountain, the children must spot the characters on the train. Make sure your cell phone is charged because there are plenty of photo opportunities,” Slisky said.

Source link