HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 13, 2018 – Three-year-old Brakston Mackall watched as the Polar Express train pulled to a stop in front of him. “What color car would you like?” a High Point University volunteer asked. Mackall looked down at his red jacket. “Red, I want the red one!” he said and climbed into the red caboose.
“This event is amazing,” said his mother, High Point resident Cori Mackall. “We look forward to it each Christmas. It’s such a wonderful thing for the city. I grew up in High Point, and we didn’t have anything like this when I was young. To have it now for Brakston is so great.”
The Mackall family was one of 12,000 people on campus during this first night of the event, and the celebration continues Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Regardless of Friday’s potential for rain, HPU’s Community Christmas Celebration will continue. Indoor events on Friday include a photo and gift for children who visit Santa inside the Slane Student Center, complimentary hot chocolate and hot dogs at the Holly Jolly Hot Dog Shoppe, robotics activities in the Crafty Elf Lego Workshop, science activities in Congdon Hall, arcade games, musical performances and a surprise visits from Anna and Elsa of “Frozen.”
Free and open to the public, HPU’s Community Christmas Celebration has grown into the premier complimentary Christmas celebration in the Piedmont Triad.
Neighbors in High Point and friends from across the Triad were shuttled to campus from Oak Hollow Mall for tonight’s celebration. They were greeted at HPU’s campus by a life-size Nativity scene with a photo station, Polar Express train rides, Santa’s Stable Petting zoo, a Crafty Elf LEGO Workshoppe, and much, much more.
The university continued its tradition of celebrating Christmas with the community by inviting attendees to partake in Communion. Guests also enjoyed community choirs, elves on stilts and falling snow.
For many in the Triad, the event has become a way for their family to embrace the Christmas spirit while they stroll through campus and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.
“We’ve been coming almost every year since this began,” said High Point resident Disiree Miller who brought her two children. “I love it, the kids love it and they can’t wait to ride the train and see Santa. This event is all about the kids. I tell everyone to come if they want to give their child a magical time. I have a collection of seven photos of my son with Santa here over the years. Now, my 5-year-old daughter is here for the first time and I’ll get to add a photo of her with Santa to my stack.”
Terriess Medley came with his two sisters, Emerald and Nazirah.
“It’s all about coming here with your family during the holidays and getting into the Christmas spirit,” said Medley, a Southwest Guilford High School student while he and his sisters took a photo with one of the nutcrackers on HPU’s campus. “There’s so much family fun for everyone, so you really enjoy time with each other.”
Megan Lucas, from Archdale, brought her sister, Chloe, and her friend Richardo Ibarra, to share the joy of an event that’s become an annual tradition for her.
“I love the hot chocolate every year, and the decorations and this campus are so pretty,” said Lucas. “And it’s Community Christmas, so it makes you want to come here to experience the community and enjoy the holiday with your family.”
“We’ve come every year for the past few years,” said Andrea McIntosh, of Kernersville, while her two sons played in the Crafty Elf LEGO Workshoppe in the Wanek Center. “They love to see Santa and ride the train, and we have an awesome time.”
Nine-year-old Amari McCall marveled at the 40-foot DNA sculpture that was lit up like a candy cane in the Congon Lobby before he headed off to see Santa.
“I came to enjoy this campus and because I want to go to school here someday,” said McCall.
By the numbers – HPU’s campus will be decked in:
— 93,000 lights
— 12,440 feet of garland
— 173 wreaths
— 648 banners
— 460 bows
— 130 nutcrackers and soldiers
— 23 nativity scene figures
— 300 poinsettias
— 12 Christmas trees.