Holiday Happenings

115-light-displayOshkosh event lights up park

It won’t just be starry skies twinkling during the Oshkosh Celebration of Lights. A new 26-foot tunnel, constructed from a converted greenhouse, will be one of the sparkling attractions attendees can anticipate seeing during the 12/10-mile long presentation, which is set to music.

“You’ll think you’re seeing the stars if you have a moonroof, but you’re not. It’s the lights,” explains Leon Thompson, Oshkosh Celebration of Lights chairperson.

The Oshkosh Celebration of Lights’ 14th year will run Nov. 24-Dec. 31 from 5-9 p.m. at Menominee Park. Cars can enter off of Merritt Avenue. Those who contribute a a non-perishable, in-date, canned food item will receive $1 off admission. A portion of the event’s proceeds are donated to organizations, while the rest goes toward continuing the holiday tradition.

Ninety-five percent of the displays are in new locations. More computer-animated displays and rope lights have been added, and a brand-new snowfall tree, plywood themed cutouts and refurbished PVC pipe candy canes are incorporated into the design. A 100-foot tree also will be covered will LED lights and shine even brighter. Forty-three of the 125 wire frames used throughout the park have been stripped, repainted and rewired with new LED lights as well.

“Many of these have been there since the beginning,” Thompson says. Of course, those familiar with the event will again see “Splash” or the animated guy who jumps into the “pool” of lights. However, there will be a new twist.

“Now, with the technology, we can have him jump into the pool, come out blue and shiver,” shares Thompson.

In addition to the lights, Santa will be on hand 23 nights for visits from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Horse and carriage rides will be available on a limited basis for 30-minute rides Dec. 3, 13, 17 and 20 for an additional fee and New Year’s Eve activities also are being planned. For more information, visit

—By Amy Hanson

Go green for the holidays

115-gardeningWhile the popular saying goes, “sometimes the best gift is the one you give yourself,” a demonstration on creating holiday decorations at the Little Chute Public Library on Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m. aims to teach the community that the best gifts can actually be the ones you make yourself.

The demonstration is sponsored by the Outagamie County Master Gardeners Association, a group composed of volunteers who educate the community about growing and maintaining their flowers and greens throughout the year.

Event speaker, local artist and business owner Sonnet Uhlenbrauck, has been a master gardener since 2009.

“I’m always looking for new plants to try and experimenting with color combinations,” she says. “I love looking for ways to incorporate what I have in my yard when decorating and use these elements and other vintage items to decorate for all seasons.

Uhlenbrauck will focus on using materials such as pinecones, tree branches, garlands, flower pots and dried items to create centerpieces and outdoor holiday decorations.

Discussion will not be limited to these projects, however. Uhlenbrauck and other volunteers from the Master Gardeners Association will be available to answer any and all horticultural questions.

“If you have a question about why something isn’t growing, they’ll help you,” says Angela Schneider, adult services & programing librarian at the Kimberly-Little Chute Library. “And, if you have a question about growing anything, they’ll find an answer to it.”

While the presentation will not be hands-on, lucky winners of the event’s raffle will be able to take Uhlenbrauck’s creations home with them.

—By Ariela E. Rosa

Pancakes, penguins and Santa — oh, my!

115-penguinsFlapjacks, Santa Claus, carolers and horse-drawn hayrides. It sounds like the makings of the holiday season. All of these items and more will be part of the annual Breakfast with Santa Holiday Fest at the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park in Suamico Dec. 12 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We do have a higher than normal attendance that day,” says Patricia Jelen, operations manager. “I think families are just looking for something to do together during that time of year.”

No reservations are needed for the breakfast portion of the event, and all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausages will be served until noon in the Taste of the Tropics Restaurant. The price is $6 for adults and $4 for children. Regular rates apply for zoo admission.

Santa will be at the event throughout the day and visitors will see carolers at the restaurant and along the hayride route. Additional fees apply for the hayrides.

Kids’ activities will likely include making animal-themed Christmas ornaments, cards and other crafts. Attendees also will have the opportunity to get up close to and learn more about animals like — the armadillo, hedgehog, snakes, turtles, lizards, rabbits, and maybe even penguins. Exact animals will be determined closer to the event.

“It’s nice to see the zoo in winter, it’s a whole different look at that time and the animals are quite active in the cooler weather,” says Jelen.

—By Amy Hanson

Set the stage for the season

115-Wonderful-LifeSome of our most beloved stories are set in the holiday season. This November, one of those stories takes on a unique twist. “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” sets up the classic holiday tale of George Bailey and his family as a live 1940s radio broadcast, complete with music, commercials and sound effects from the era.

“The entire play is set in a studio on Christmas Eve in 1946,” says Jeff Entwistle, chair of the theater department at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. “Telling this story as a regular play you would have to simplify a lot of things, but a radio drama allows us to transport the audience in a different way.”

Another moving holiday tale comes to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in December. “All is Calm – The Christmas Truce of 1914” tells the true story of World War I soldiers that called a temporary cease-fire on Christmas Eve.

115-happenings“There was some singing going back and forth between the soldiers,” explainsTrisha Witt, marketing director at Fox Cities P.A.C. “One German soldier came out of the trenches singing ‘Silent Night’ and Allied soldiers started to camp, they played soccer and helped bury each others’ dead.”

The play weaves first-hand accounts from 30 soldiers, and though it is not a musical, features trench songs, patriotic tunes and Christmas carols throughout.

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” will be performed at UW-Green Bay’s Weidner Center Nov. 19-20 at 7:30p.m. “All is Calm – The Christmas Truce of 1914” will be at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Dec. 9 at 7:30p.m. Tickets are available now.

—By Amanda Bourbonais

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