Summer is over, and fall has officially arrived, so now it’s time to start thinking about Halloween, Arkalalah and Christmas. 

That’s right, Christmas. 

For those in my family, it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas. The truth is, we never stop thinking about Christmas.

My son has been playing Christmas music in his room for the past two weeks, and has been diligently trying to learn new Christmas songs on his guitar. My wife has filed numerous plastic tubs full of her crocheted items in preparation for Christmas craft shows. She is working feverishly to complete even more beautiful items. I am already making plans for the annual light display at our house. We are all talking about Santa and his yearly visit to our house. There are so many people and places in Ark City that he, his wife and his #1 elf hope to visit. 

But we aren’t the only ones thinking about Christmas.  A special committee at the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce has been dreaming about Christmas for several months and has been working on some wonderful plans for this years Christmas In The City event. 

I know, I know, no one wants to think about Christmas this early. But we all know how fast the weeks go by, and the holiday season will be upon us before we know it. 

At my house, the Christmas season officially begins the day after Halloween. In Ark City, the Christmas season will officially kick off on Nov. 19 with Merry Monday. 

What a fun event! 

Each year, Santa, Mrs. Santa and his favorite elf, arrive by horse-drawn carriage, and escort the Christmas essay contest finalists to the stage.  Santa will announce the winner, who will have the honor of lighting the community tree and all of the downtown lights. 

Santa always hangs around to listen to all of the music, eat a lot of good food, and visit with all of the kids, both young and old. 

It’s a wonderful tradition, and you won’t find anything quite like this in any big city. Events like the County fair, Walnut Valley Festival, Last Run Car Show, Arkalalah and Christmas in the city are what I love most about living in a smaller community. 

While we enjoy all of those events, Christmas has always been our favorite time of the year. We love the music, the food, and the decorations, especially the lights. My family and I love to pile into our SUV with steaming cups of hot chocolate, crank up the Christmas music and go look at the lights. 

We drive all over Ark City, visiting as many streets as we can. There are some who go all out with lavish decorations, and others who may put up only a single strand. 

We enjoy them all. 

Santa, his wife and their elf also enjoy the lights. They love to climb into the sleigh and look at the beautiful homes. If you have a really nice display, and you’ve been really good, they might just show up at your door to personally express their appreciation.

My family and I totally understand the work that goes into any sort of Christmas display. For those of you who go the extra mile, we appreciate your hard work and applaud your wonderful Christmas spirit. 

After exploring the streets of Ark City, it’s time to explore Winfield and all of their beautiful lights. All over town, there are beautiful and creative light displays. The entire city is full of Christmas spirit and the downtown lights are truly beautiful. 

Each year, Winfield also has a lighted Christmas parade that is beautiful to watch.

But nothing can top the display at Island Park.

In my family, part of the fun involves trying to figure out which displays are new. We could just look at the guide that we always receive at the entrance, but that ‘s no fun.. An intense debate takes place as we circle the park. One insists a display is new, while another is convinced it was there last year. 

We each have our favorites that we look for each year. My son loves the Christmas tree with the lights timed by computer to music. We always have to sit through several songs and watch the amazing light show. 

We slowly complete our loop around the park, soaking in the color and enjoying the animated displays. We’re never ready for it to end. It never fails, once we reach the exit, someone in the car will look at the driver with pleading eyes, 

“Can’t we go around one more time?” 

We always do.

Like it or not, Christmas is on the way. It’s going to be fun, so don’t be a Grinch. Turn off the TV, load up the family, enjoy the holiday the season and take part this years downtown Christmas festivities. 

If Santa doesn’t see you there, he might put you on the naughty list. If I were you, I wouldn’t take any chances.

CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or reporter@ctnewsonline.com.

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