If you are ready to get in the Christmas spirit, Madison has a great weekend coming.
This first weekend in December is filled with activities for children as well as adults. Since Christmas is for children, let’s start with them.
Without spending much money at all, families can enjoy a train ride with Santa, supervised crafts, a parade and a holiday movie … all on Saturday, Dec. 1.
For several years now the Madison Railroad has made an engine, passenger car and caboose available to carry children on a “Santa Express” from the Venture Out Business Center on Madison’s hilltop. Kids will love boarding a real train just as much as they love sharing a train car with Santa Claus.
The 30-minute train rides will depart at 10 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. Tickets are $2 per person. Call (812) 273-6510 to find out if tickets are still available.
The “train station” is located at 975 Industrial Drive, which is north of Clifty Drive and east of the railroad tracks. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early for boarding. If you have extra time, take the kids inside the business center to warm up, have a snack and make a craft.
And if Santa isn’t already busy enough riding the “Santa Express,” he’ll also arrive downtown in The Very Merry Christmas Parade at 10 a.m. The parade is bigger and better than ever, with 42 entries, including more than a dozen floats. Many local students will be featured as parade performers, so you can bet their families will be cheering from the sidewalks of Main Street between Jefferson and Mill streets. You can also expect to see Curious George, Garfield, the Berenstain Bears and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
After the parade, children can find their way to the Ohio Theatre for a free showing of “The Polar Express,” followed by face time with Santa. The movie screening gives parents a chance to shop downtown on their own.
There are other activities geared to adults this weekend. I always enjoy the Christmas Craft Fair at my alma mater, Hanover College, located just west of Madison. Expect to see 50 or more booths of handmade gifts and décor. Hours for the craft show are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. Admission is free. While you’re on campus, you could plan to take a brisk walk to see the Ohio River view from The Point. The exercise will help relieve your Christmas anxieties.
A personal favorite tradition for me is the Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes, which gives the opportunity to see inside some of Madison’s most amazing private homes. Volunteer guides will greet you and share their stories. Many of the sites offer holiday music or other bonus features. Two of the sites on this year’s tour are in Hanover, by the way, and they are well worth the drive.
The last two nights of the tour this season are Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1. Adult tickets are $15. For ticket information call 800-559-2956.
Here’s my last weekend tip for adults who want to spend some quality time savoring the season. The Madison-Ohio Valley Choir and the Hanover College Choir are joining their voices to present Handel’s “Messiah” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. Tickets are $7. The concert will be held in the Fitzgibbon Recital Hall at Hanover College. Visiting Santa is all well and good, but hearing this beautiful cantata is an experience that will truly prepare you for the Christmas season.