It’s that time of year again. If you drive by Hightower Park on Broadway, you might see city workers preparing for the annual Christmas in the Park season. They began in late October to make sure the displays are ready for opening day on Nov. 18.
This year, opening day will feature two horse-drawn carriages, hot cocoa concessions and special holiday music performed by local musicians as the lights come on at 6:30 p.m. Carriage rides will be the cost of a donation.
After opening day, visitors won’t see the Christmas train or as many displays, but those that are up will be brighter.
Due to the age of many of the displays, the city will only be putting out the infamous larger-than-life lit trees, the tunnel that splits Hightower Park, wrapped trees, trails and the gazebo where Santa Claus will make an appearance each Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the season.
Freddy Perez, Cemetery Supervisor, said the older displays were more trouble to deal with than they were worth, from replacing bulbs to keeping them steady in the Oklahoma wind. The moving-light and large displays will not be part of this year’s Christmas in the Park.
But the lights that will be lit this year are LED, which means a completely lit display. The LED lights last longer and there’s no need to change burned out bulbs or replace strings of lights so viewers can see the entire picture.
While the lights will be upgraded, safety concerns and lack of staffing have caused the Altus Parks and Recreation Department to stop running the Christmas train that circles the park. Perez said he knows that will be the biggest complaint this year.
Perez said buses from surrounding towns such as Vernon, Olustee and Duke, bring in church groups and families with the intention to ride the train and have a cup of hot cocoa from the concession stand.
Many of the wooden, handpainted displays are still going up to include a photo op display of snowmen and a gingerbread house, two Christmas bulldogs representing Altus’ school mascot, a nativity scene and Santa Claus.
Christmas in the Park will run from Nov. 18 through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 each evening from dusk to 10 p.m.