Santa will arrive downtown in the Christmas City of the High Plains on Saturday evening around 6 p.m.
“This year he’s coming in on one of the firetrucks,” said Cathy Albert, director of WaKeeney Travel and Tourism.
True to tradition each year, Santa will be in town for the 68th annual Christmas extravaganza that encompasses WaKeeney’s four-block downtown.
His first job is to flip the switch to light the 35-foot tree that is the centerpiece of WaKeeney’s expansive day-long holiday spectacle, said Albert.
And following that, some 200 children will wait their turn at North Pole Park to make their requests for his Christmas toy deliveries. While the event is free, bring your own camera.
“He gives each of them a handmade treat from the bakery,” Albert said. “It’s a cookie on a stick, wrapped in cellophane so it doesn’t get messed up.”
Besides the tree-lighting ceremony, the all-day event features the 18th Annual Christmas Bazaar at the Trego County Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a benefit soup supper at the VFW Hall at 4:30 p.m., and live music by Gypsy Kansas.
Several things are new this year, Albert said, including Santa’s Downtown Workshop, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., where kids can pick up a ticket for their appointment with Santa, then wait their turn doing crafts, playing games and having snacks and drinks at downtown businesses.
Anyone can also get a free virtual ride in Santa’s sleigh.
“There’s audio, there’s visual and there’s motion,” Albert said. “You’re strapped into seats and the seats actually move. You’re sitting in Santa’s seat, with the reindeer out in front, flying through the sky, zooming through the villages, and delivering presents.”
The three-minute ride is provided by JNT Co., Manhattan.
Strollers also can check out the Festival of the Nativities at the Trego County Historical Society Museum, 128 N. 13th St.
More than 40 Nativity sets are on loan from Trego County families, said Marjean Deines, associate director of the museum. They will be on display through Jan. 1, 2019.
“We have an amazing variety,” Deines said. “It’s amazing what a small community has to offer.”
Each set carries the name of the donor, the date it was made if known and what it’s made of, and any interesting story that goes with it.
Larry and Jean Hixon, WaKeeney, have loaned one that is a wheat weaving, made in the 1970s with wheat grown on their farm, Deines said.
Jim Nelson, WaKeeney, has loaned his handmade wooden stable.
And Jerry White, WaKeeney, has loaned one that he brought back from the Philippines when he was in the service.
There are sets of all sizes, including from Mexico and Africa, as well.
“There are not any two alike,” Deines said.
Hours for the display are on the society’s website at www.tregohistorical.org, or on their Facebook page.