New Castle County again will host a series of celebrations – starting this Friday, December 2 -- that have become known as its “Holiday Traditions,” County Executive Thomas P. Gordon announced Monday.
The free events, which draw thousands of guests, will be held at Rockwood Park & Museum, Glasgow Regional Park and Carousel Park & Equestrian Center.
“Our Holiday Traditions are some of the county’s most popular events, with many families creating their own traditions of attending every year,” Gordon said. “These free activities at county parks close to home help parents stretch their holiday budgets and create wonderful memories to last their children a lifetime.”
“We’re proud to present another season of these family-friendly activities at these beautiful facilities,” said General Manager Sophia Hanson of the county Department of Community Services.
Events start with the 16th Annual Holiday Open House at Rockwood Museum this Friday through Sunday, Dec. 2-4, with entertainment, children’s activities, costumed characters and free take-home photos with Santa, Hanson said.
Performers this year include the Delaware Arts Conservatory performing excerpts of “The Snow Queen,” Wilmington Children’s Theater with a preview of its “Willy Wonka” production and Imagination Players, along with the Kathryn Ciminello Dance Troupe, Cab Calloway Middle School Choirs, University of Delaware’s Children’s Choir.
The event also includes our Youth Entrepreneur’s Secret Santa Shoppe, selling gifts for the whole family, tours of the holiday display in the museum and a festive light display in the gardens surrounding the Carriage House and historic mansion.
Gordon will lead the traditional tree lighting at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, and at 7 p.m., give children a special reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s classic “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Open house hours run 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3, then 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4.
Guests are asked to bring donations of nonperishable food items or new hats, gloves, mittens or scarves for the Giving Tree to help the needy. Tours of the museum also are free throughout December. For GPS, the park address is 4651 Washington Street Extension, Wilmington, DE 19809.
Next in the county’s Holiday Traditions events is the Annual Tree Lighting Celebration at Glasgow Park on the evening of Friday, Dec. 9.
Festivities there run 6-9 p.m., with Gordon leading the tree lighting at 7 p.m. by the newly restored Glasgow Park Bank Barn. There will be live music, bonfires, refreshments and make-and-take crafts in Santa’s Workshop. Guests are encouraged to bring cameras for their children’s visits with Santa.
New this year will be the Festive Holiday Market, featuring area vendors with a wide variety of local foods, gifts, holiday decorations and more.
While visiting the park, Gordon also invites guests to check out the recently dedicated “H!GH 5 PARK,” the county’s special playground created to address the needs of children on the autism spectrum -- the first facility of its kind in Delaware and surrounding states. For GPS, the park address is 2275 Pulaski Highway, Newark, DE 19702.
On Monday, Dec. 5, county officials announced the cancellation of "Santa and His Pony," a popular annual event planned for Saturday, Dec. 10, at Carousel Park & Equestrian Center in Pike Creek.
“We deeply regret having to cancel this popular holiday program, but we have no choice because of an illness among the horses,” County Executive Thomas P. Gordon said in announcing the cancellation. “We love our equestrian programs and horses, including the tremendous Clydesdales and Percheron that serve our community as members of the New Castle County Police Mounted Patrol Unit, so we would not take any chances with their health or that of other horses.”
Over the weekend, a few of the horses based at the county park on Limestone Road were found to have temperatures and veterinarians determined they have a virus, said General Manager Sophia Hanson of the county Department of Community Services.
The species-specific illness is not life-threatening to the horses, Hanson said. But because of the risk of the virus spreading, even from hay that event guests might step, then track the virus to horses at other stables, the cancellation was unavoidable, she added.
Riding lessons, trail rides and cross-country course riding at the park also are canceled until further notice. Out of an abundance of caution, the county also has closed the park’s Kids Corral animal visiting program.
County officials regret any inconvenience caused by the cancellation.
They also invite families that planned to attend “Santa and His Pony” to come see Santa on Friday night at the Tree Lighting at Glasgow Regional Park at U.S. 40 and Del. 896.