Lighting Up

‘Light Up La Grange’ kicks off
a variety of holiday events

Polar Express, ice skating rink
adds to festivities this year

LA GRANGE, Ky. (December 2014) – The sights and sounds of the Polar Express are about to explode upon La Grange in a big way. Many of this year’s Light Up La Grange festivities will be centered around the Polar Express theme and will contain something for all ages.

Photo by Darrel Taylor

A miniature train set is part of
the decor inside the dining car at
the La Grange Railroad Museum in
La Grange, Ky. The dining car is
set up for a Christmas dinner.

“We’ve added two features to Light Up La Grange,” said Donna Sabo, chairperson for Light Up La Grange and Promotional Chairperson for Discover Downtown La Grange, the entity behind this event.
La Grange will be visited by the Polar Express, she said, in addition to the construction of a synthetic ice rink.
“It has taken a lot of work to construct the Polar Express,” said Sabo. This portion of Light Up La Grange will take place at the La Grange Railroad Museum, 421 E. Main St. There will be lighted trains, displays, Express Tours and a train exhibit.
The Ohio Valley Railroad Historical Foundation owns three railcars on the property where the La Grange Railroad Museum sits in what used to house the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development. “We have decorated inside and out. The dinning car is set up for a Christmas dinner,” said Sabo. “There will be elves hard at work in the second railcar.”
A synthetic ice rink will be set up at Second Street for the 28th Annual Light Up La Grange. Sabo got the idea for this when “I heard that a lot of hospitals use this in their holiday displays,” she said. There will be lights, skates and rink space for 40 people.
Light Up La Grange will be held from 5:30-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5. On the Courthouse Square, attendees will find Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and opening ceremony remarks by outgoing La Grange Mayor Bill Lammlein. The switch will be flipped at 6 p.m. sharp to light up the town. The Courthouse Square is one of three lighting locations, including the La Grange Railroad Museum and along Main Street.
Due to construction and rain delays, there will not be the usual huge display of holiday lights on the Courthouse Square. There will be some lights in the trees and on the lawn, Sabo said.
A new addition to Light Up La Grange is a Humana Reindeer Walk, stretching from the Courthouse Square gazebo to the La Grange Railroad Museum. Santa will be handing out “Believe” tickets (good for a chance to win electronics and various giveaways) to the Polar Express. Children can use the tickets at the museum to receive a special bell. “We encourage kids to wear their pajamas, just like in the movie,” said Sabo.
Walkers will receive a surprise visit while on the walk from Elsa and Anna, two of the characters from the Walt Disney film, “Frozen.”
There will be five different locations for entertainment this year: the Railroad Museum, Walnut Street, the Courthouse Square, CityPlace and the Community Center on Jefferson Street. Entertainment will include school choirs, dance groups, a bells choir, community band and the Oldham County Singers who will perform from 6:30-8:30 at Gallery 104.
“Light Up La Grange is about tradition for a lot of families,” Sabo said. “It’s a way for them to kick off holiday festivities.”
Nancy Griffin, executive director for Discover Downtown La Grange, said she agrees with Sabo. “Families have attended Light Up La Grange festivities across two to three generations now,” she said. “It is a holiday tradition set deeply in the heart of the community.”
Griffin said that arrangements were made with Derby City Express for three trolley stops for the evening. “Several of our restaurants and merchants will stay open late, and we have a warm-up spot with seating and hot chocolate this year at the Community Center on Jefferson Street.”
During the evening, the Grinch will be hanging out at the Oldham County History Center’s Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum, 106 N. Second Ave. The History Center will have various children’s activities and crafts and an Amish Bake Sale.
Through Christmas the History Center will have a special Train & Winter Village Display set up in the Rob Morris Educational Building. The collection is a compilation of 30 years worth of work by Oldham County residents Jim and Kathy Cummings.
Each piece added to the collection over the years denotes something in the Cummings family’s life.
“It grew over the years – and grew and grew. Our children and grandchildren are all grown, so it’s time to share it with a new generation of children,” said Kathy Cummings.
The Oldham County Singers will perform “A Gift of Song” in the Rob Morris Educational Building at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21. “Admission is a donation of cash, canned goods, one-box meals, or peanut butter to the Oldham County American Red Cross,” said member Octa Kellond.
The Oldham County Singers will attend the annual burning of the Yule Log in Pewee Valley from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m Sunday, Dec. 7, on Town Square, 312 Mt. Mercy Dr. The singers will lead group caroling around the bonfire.
There will be a special unveiling of The Nativity at 7 p.m. at CityPlace, 112 S. First Ave., during Light Up La Grange. The Rawlings Foundation commissioned renowned sculptor and artist Guy Tedesco to sculpt a life-sized Nativity to be on display during the Christmas season.
To complement the unveiling, there will be a musical performance by an ensemble of the Louisville Chorus. Additional figures will be added to the Nativity scene during the weeks of Christmas.
At Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., the hugely poplar Yew Dell Express Train Exhibit will run through Saturdays and Sundays in December. Master model train builder Bob Irmscher created an entire snow village that will delight young and old alike.
No detail is lost to the eye. Streets are glazed to make them appear icy. A river area contains a dock and boat and dead cattails made from old broom straws. Bridges have silicone icicles hanging on them. A tunnel is stained with train smoke.
Admission to the display is included in regular admission to Yew Dell, which is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and free for children under 12.
Jackie Gulbe, Communication Coordinator for Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, said this train display “is very popular with families. A trip to Yew Dell to see the trains and Santa, is a less hectic experience than a venture to the mall.” She said visitors seem to “like the charm of the snow village and the craftsmanship. The kids love the “Gnome for the Holidays” Scavenger Hunt. Seeing Santa at Yew Dell isn’t an all-day commitment, and you can squeeze some holiday shopping in at the garden gift shop without the crowds.” The Winter Wonder Walk is an activity Yew Dell introduced last year. “It gives visitors an opportunity to walk the grounds and see trees and shrubs that are interesting this time of year. They will see interesting foliage, bark and color,” she said.
Out at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Goshen, Ky., “Our 208-year old Mahan Manor has been decorated for Christmas and will be open for tours at our Nature of Christmas in Goshen event from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6,” said Tavia Cathcart Brown, executive director. This event is co-hosted by the City of Goshen.
“The house has never looked better,” said Brown. The community is invited to the nature preserve to enjoy hot dogs, chili and hot chocolate. “We also have a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, offer hayrides, holiday gift booths, and much more.”

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