MIDLOTHIAN — Since 2012, downtown Midlothian has transformed into a winter wonderland on the first Saturday in December. Barring an unexpected wintery mix or torrential downfall, this year will be no different, as Old Saint Nick and company are prepared to make their way to Heritage Park on Saturday, Dec. 3 for the 5th annual Midlothian Southern Star Christmas Celebration.

This year’s event, themed “A Christmas in Wonderland,” begins at 1 p.m. in Heritage Park. Patrons will find vendors ranging from face painters to artisans, while those with enough Christmas spirit can mosey over to Omega or Woodrow’s Coffee Shop, both located at 116 N. 8th Street, for a photo with the bearded one himself — Santa Claus.

“We also have vendor booths available and entry into the parade, which is a lighted parade that begins at 6 p.m.,” said City of Midlothian Special Events Coordinator Gina Moore. “The vendors and other festivities are during the day from 1—5 p.m., and we also have free pictures with Santa from 1—4:30 p.m. at Omega and Woodrow’s.

“The tree lighting and the Christmas story that is read by our mayor, Bill Houston, in Heritage Park will follow the lighted parade. After we have the tree lit, it will actually stay on for the remainder of December and into the New Year.”

Outside of the addition of online registration, Moore said there were no real changes from the festival in 2015.

“We did move the pictures with Santa inside last year, but outside of the addition of online registration there is no real change from the previous years,” Moore added. “If inclement weather cancels the event, what we will do is reschedule the Christmas story with the mayor and the tree lighting only. If that happens, it will be preceding the Midlothian City Council meeting on Dec. 13, so at about 5:30 p.m. right there at Heritage Park.”

Registration cut off for the parade is Wednesday, December 30. Midlothian Chamber of Commerce President Cammy Jackson, Manna House Executive Director Sissy Franklin, Marilyn Jones, Kim Kent from Omega and Moore coordinate the event.

According to a map posted on the City of Midlothian’s Facebook page, the parade will begin at the Midlothian Police Station before traveling down N. 8th Street to W. Avenue F. It will then conclude at Heritage Park, located at the intersection of W. Avenue F and Overlook Drive.

During last year’s parade, the Midlothian Girls Softball Association took home the top-overall honor, while Rick’s Radiator & Muffler was named Most Original, All About Dance received Best Use of Lights and Keller Williams Realty (Stahnke-Knapp) was named Best Use of Theme.

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

(469) 517-1470