Cuero's Christmas in the Park to open earlier (w/poll)
Nov. 19, 2013 at 5:19 a.m.
Updated Nov. 20, 2013 at 5:20 a.m.
CUERO - Always bigger. Always better.
Now, Cuero's Christmas in the Park is earlier, too.
The self-guided, holiday display is opening Friday, three days sooner than in the past.
Now in the tour's 14th year, the exhibits have always opened Monday the week of Thanksgiving.
The weekend before Thanksgiving opening is a first for the popular display that includes free hot chocolate nights Thursdays in December and a living Nativity scene Dec. 16-23.
The displays are available for viewing from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly through New Year's night.
Tony Allen, one of the event organizers who sits on the December Special Events Committee that hosts Christmas in the Park, said city workers were more involved this year to help assure the Friday start date.
"We got through early with the help of city workers," Allen said. "It's usually just a core group of us putting everything up. This went a lot faster."
Randall Malik, executive director of the Cuero Development Corp., said the city's help was invaluable.
"The December Special Events Committee couldn't have completed the work in the park without the city involvement," he said. "The Friday start coincides with the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum opening festivities and playoff games being hosted in Cuero. It should be an exciting weekend for Cuero."
He said plans next year call for city crews to completely take over the setup, operation and takedown of the exhibits.
"It has grown in size that it is hard for the volunteers to get everything out in time," said Cuero City Manager Raymie Zella.
"We look at Christmas in the Park as a huge attraction to our city. Anything we can do to help the volunteers, we will to make it successful."
And successful it has been.
An estimated 95,000 visitors went through Cuero's Christmas in the Park in 2012.
With its beginnings in 2000 with lighting of the gazebo in Cuero Municipal Park, Christmas in the Park has grown to more than 240 exhibits throughout the park with nutcrackers and seasonal cutouts along the path.
"Some of the new scenes this year are a reindeer in helicopter near the airport, an oil derrick shooting snowflakes, an oil pump jack with Santa waving," said Mary Polansky, committee spokeswoman.
Polansky said the popular 30-foot American flag scene and the paddlewheel boat scene will return to the park lake.
There is no charge to drive through the displays, but donations are accepted near the end of the tour.
All donations are used for new and upkeep of existing scenes and infrastructure in the park, said Polansky.
Downtown Cuero also is decorated for the holidays. Stores will be open until 8 p.m. Thursdays in December.