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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Holiday events a huge success

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Participants learn the Virginia Reel during the Victorian Dance on Saturday afternoon at the Fort Scott National Historical Site.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
Whether it be touring the candlelit grounds of an historic military post, twirling to a waltz in period costume, or slipping a bug in Santa's ear for just the right present, Fort Scottians had plenty of options to choose from this past weekend as the city was full of holiday-themed events for young and old alike.

Events kicked off Friday with the 31st Annual Candlelight Tours at the Fort Scott National Historic Site, where visitors could step back in time to observe what life was like in 1862 along a path of about 700 candles in shimmering glass boxes.

About 80 reenactors helped recreate five scenes which fit into the theme of "Challenges of War."

Ben Phillips, 4, right and Keira Phillips, 7, let Santa know their Christmas wishes on Saturday at Christmas in the Park at Gunn Park.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
Part of the weekend festivities at the fort also featured a Victorian dance, which included instruction by Ranger Robert Thomas on how to trip the light fantastic during the Civil War era. Participants, dressed both in period costumes and modern-day street clothes, tried their skill at such dances as the Virginia Reel and various waltzes.

Chief Ranger Kelley Collins said 595 visitors toured the Fort on Friday and Saturday, where they observed various scenes from that era -- from a Civil War supply room, to a meeting on education and a strategy session on troop numbers.

"It was a really good weekend for us," Collins said. "We were happy the weather decided to cooperate."

Some of the approximately 700 candles light a stairway at the Fort Scott National Historical Site's 31st Annual Candlelight Tour on Friday night.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
The warm weather served to create a special challenge to organizers at Christmas in the Park on Saturday night at Gunn Park -- how to get the masses of people in and out of the park in the most efficient way possible.

Long lines waiting for buses to shuttle them into the park turned into smiles as visitors to the park arrived for hot dogs, nachos, a visit with Santa, an actual reindeer with a sleigh, a living nativity and plenty of games for children.

Christmas in the Park committee member Diana Mitchell estimated that more than 2,000 people visited the park on Saturday, making it arguably the largest turnout in the history of the event.

Mitchell said because of the huge turnout, it was a challenge getting people into the park.

"But I guess that is a good problem to have," Mitchell said. "This is huge for the community, people can show up with their pockets empty, everything is 100 percent free. It's a fun thing for the kids and for families."

Food, entertainment and games were all paid for by money raised by the Christmas in the Park Committee, which includes Mitchell, Tom Robertson, Eric Bailey, Kathy Plain, Todd Farrell and Craig Rice.

Cash drawings also were held, in which 13 people split $1,000.

For those children who couldn't wait until Saturday night to talk with Santa, or those opting for two audiences with the jolly man, Fort Scott Community College offered Breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning. The event featured a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and eggs, a picture taken Santa, and a gift. There were also Christmas videos and coloring mats and door prizes.

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