Activities to drive the humbugs away

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The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the most joyful and exciting times of year. Between studying for finals, Christmas shopping and holiday parties, it can also be the busiest time of year. Make time for a few fun activities to break up the madness and help feel the Christmas spirit.

Festival of Trees

The Festival of Trees in Sandy is in its 43rd year of raising money for Primary Children’s Hospital. Thousands of individuals, businesses and organizations donate their time to make the holiday event successful. Just last year the event raised $1.9 million for the children at Primary Children’s.

Allison Cox, from South Jordan, looks forward to this event all year. She started going as a child and now takes her children to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas. Cox decorated two trees one year, spending countless hours and preparing months in advance to be able to give back to Primary Children’s.

“Going to the festival is what Christmas is all about, giving back to people in need,” Cox said. “There is such a humbling feeling being there and knowing that all the proceeds go to help children that are battling for their life.”
In addition to viewing more than 800 uniquely decorated trees, people can buy holiday crafts and decorations as well as enjoy live entertainment and activities for children.

The festival is open to the public Dec. 4–7 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day at South Towne Expo Center. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 2–11. For more information visit festivaloftreesutah.org.

Christmas Cruise

CLAS Ropes is in its 17th year of Christmas Cruises down the Provo River. People can enjoy a ride while listening to Christmas music and taking in the lights and holiday scenes along the way.

“There are thousands of Christmas lights that are reflecting off the water,” said Benjamin Allen, owner of CLAS Ropes. “There are a lot of Christmas scenes, and Santa comes along in a canoe to visit everyone on the boat.”

Allen said that 20 years ago when they bought the land, they did a spook alley for three years. Allen’s wife said, “There’s got to be something more uplifting,” and the Christmas Cruise was born. When the Cruise first started, they had a bicycle system to go down the river. Now the Cruise has two professional excursion boats and last year served more than 4,000 people.

Rides are every night Dec. 2–23, except Sunday nights. Rides leave every 30 minutes and are $8 a person. For more information visit clasropes.com.

‘A Christmas Carol’

Hale Center Theater in Orem has been producing the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” for 24 years. The cast and crew have worked for months to make it a highlight in the Christmas season. BYU graduate Heather Hansen is in her third year as Topper’s Girl and loves the message the show brings.

“The Christmas spirit should be something that we are striving for all year,” Hansen said. “It’s a beautiful message of repentance, love and redemption. The theater is so intimate that we get to give that to the audience,”

Hale Center Theater Orem is gearing up for their 24rd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Chris Brower is back for his 18th year in the role of Scrooge.  (Photo courtesy of Pete Widtfeldt.)
Hale Center Theater Orem is gearing up for its 24th annual production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Chris Brower is back for his 18th year in the role of Scrooge. (Photo courtesy Pete Widtfeldt)

Hansen said the show helps the theater keep the arts alive in the community. The Hale Center Theater Orem strives to produce high-quality theater while keeping the prices affordable.

“They tell us to make this an exclamation point,” Hansen said. “This is the gift we’re giving them for the money they give the theater. It makes me want to do my best every single night.”

Shows are Monday–Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees on certain days. Tickets range from $17 to $21. Visit haletheater.org for more information.

North Pole Express

The Heber Valley Railroad hosts the North Pole Express each year. The 90-minute train ride includes free hot cocoa, treats, stories and entertainment.

Aboard the train, elves serve treats while leading the passengers in carols, stories and games. Santa and Mrs. Claus also come aboard to visit the children and hear their holiday wishes.

The historic train has been around since 1899; it used to be known as the “Heber Creeper.” Now the train runs year round, including during the Christmas season to transform the classic children’s book “Polar Express” into an experience for the whole family.

The train runs at varying dates and times Nov. 29–Dec. 24. Tickets range from $25 to $47 for adults and $15 to $37 for children. Visit hebervalleyrr.org for more information.

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