Henderson goes old-fashioned for WinterFest

Holiday fun from another age, including horse-drawn carriage rides, a carousel, strolling carolers, pony rides, Christmas trees and lots and lots of music will be in the forefront this weekend at the city of Henderson's WinterFest: An Old-Fashioned Delight.

Nicole Johnson, a spokeswoman for the city, said the festival started at the sprawling Henderson Pavilion in 2003 and moved downtown in 2006, after the Henderson Events Plaza was constructed.

"They wanted to do it to give the community an affordable option to celebrate the holidays," Johnson said.

It appears the effort succeeded; all activities are free to the public.

And there are a lot of activities, bookended by two major events.

Things kick off at 7 tonight with a holiday concert by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra and several local school choirs.

The cap will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday as the WinterFest Evening Light Parade sets off through the Water Street District in downtown Henderson.

Johnson said last year's parade was the first, and the turnout was such that it was decided to do it again. This year's parade, she said, has 84 entries, 20 more than last year. They include floats, equestrian groups and marching bands and groups, with quite a few schools involved. All entries must be lighted.

Johnson said she's read up on all 84 entries, and one that stands out is the Burkholder Middle School Jaguar Tumbling Team, which is creating an energy-efficient float based on "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," using recycled materials.

In between will be plenty of other activities. Santa Claus will arrive and the Henderson Christmas Tree will be illuminated by Mayor Andy Hafen from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday on the events plaza, where there also will be carriage rides, a gingerbread-house display, a craft bazaar and a carousel.

From noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, activities at the plaza will include a Festival of Trees, strolling carolers, storytelling, pony rides and music by local children's groups.

"Everybody loves the gingerbread-house display," she said, "and we also have a giant slide." 

Other fan favorites, she said, are the pony rides, horse-drawn carriage rides and - of course - visits with the man himself, Jolly Old St. Nick.

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@review journal.com or 702-383-0474.