The Valley Park went all out for Christmas this year and held a week’s worth of festivities as part of the annual Yuletide in the Park celebration. The multiday event kicked off on Saturday, November 27, with a Small Business Saturday vendor event in the conference center, and a Grinch-themed cupcake decorating party hosted by Valley Cakes. The festivities continued on Monday evening with a wreath making class, and crafts for both adults and children on Tuesday, courtesy of the So-Kai Kidz Clubhouse. On Wednesday, December 1, visitors to the park could enjoy a gingerbread house making party, and the following day there was a cookie decorating class.
These smaller events throughout the week were leading up to the big shindig held on Friday and Saturday, December 3 and 4.
The Hurricane Civic Chorus kicked off the festivities on Friday evening. A massive Christmas tree, donated by Berry Fork Enterprises of Heaters, West Virginia, was placed in the midst of the green between the Conference Center and the Commons, and the lights were lit for the first time in a special tree lighting ceremony. Lining the walkways around the enormous tree are smaller trees, which were sponsored and decorated by various businesses in Putnam County.
Shortly after the tree was lit, Santa Claus arrived for photographs and visits with the children. Volunteers with the Putnam County Library recited the “Night Before Christmas.” Outside on the grounds, the Word of Light Community Church of Culloden held a live nativity scene, with performances every ten minutes.
Saturday morning started off with Breakfast with Santa, and then an Ugly Sweater competition with prizes for Ugly, Uglier, and Ugliest Sweater. The first annual Christmas PJ Pageant, organized by WV Cupcake Festival Pageants, was held afterwards. Participants were required to wear Christmas-themed pajamas or nightgowns. The pageant featured divisions for Teeny, Baby Miss, Toddler Miss, Tiny Miss, Mr. Yuletide, Little Miss, Junior Miss, Teen, Miss, and Ms., as well as prizes for Most Photogenic, Best Performance, Best Attire, and People’s Choice. There was also a family division as well. The organizers of the Yuletide Pageant plan to make this a recurring event at Valley Park, with plans to join West Virginia Fairs and Festivals in 2022.
Winners of the Yuletide Pageant included Mia Scalia, Teenie Miss Yuletide; Baby Miss Lila LeMaster; Toddler Miss Danielle Miller; Tiny Miss Violet LeMaster; Mr. Yuletide Nolan Wilcoxen; Little Miss Brianna Barger; Junior Miss Vivienne Montgomery; Teen Miss Shelby Plants; Miss Apphia Welker; and Ms. Jasmine McClure.
After the Yuletide Pageant was over, there was a pet parade across the grounds between the Conference Center and the Commons. People were encouraged to dress both themselves and their pets in holiday attire for the event. Participants included Sarah Chafin of Scott Depot with Chippy the mastiff; Kara and Isabella Boehm of Scott Depot with Max, a Labrador mix; and Nichole Katterman of Hurricane with Edmond and Pongo, a pair of yorkies.
Other events held on Saturday included holiday clogging by the Lincoln County Cloggers, a cookie competition, gingerbread house judging, crafts for children, and the live nativity later that evening. Visitors could also enjoy the Christmas light displays placed around the park.
An annual event since the mid-1990’s, Yuletide in the Park has always started with a kick-off celebration held over the first weekend in December and then a month-long light display. While the celebration has hosted many events since its inception, the 2021 Yuletide in the Park might just be the largest festival the park has ever hosted.