After a rough 2020, Liberty County residents are likely looking forward to a little Christmas cheer. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the City of Cleveland to cancel this year’s Hometown Christmas and lighted parade, events are still taking place in Liberty and Dayton.
|CALENDAR OF EVENTS|
|Dec. 1||Country Christmas parade in Downtown Liberty||Parade starts at 6 p.m.|
|Dec. 5||Spirit of Christmas parade and Nutcracker Market, Dayton Community Center||Market starts at 11 a.m.; parade at 6 p.m.|
|Dec. 12||Liberty Food Festival, gumbo cookoff, street rally, Candy Cane gift card drawing in Downtown Liberty||Events throughout the day starting at 9 a.m.|
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, just after dusk, the City of Liberty will host its annual Country Christmas Parade through downtown Liberty. Parade organizers announce winners in the following categories: Best Walking, Best Riding and Best Float. All entries are brightly illuminated with some featuring dancers, twirlers and music. Fire trucks and other emergency responder vehicles are typically part of the parade, which has become a popular annual event among county residents.
The parade will line up at 5 p.m. and start at roughly 6 p.m. The parade route begins at the Liberty High School football stadium at the corner of Grand Ave. and Bowie Street, and ends at the Humphrey Cultural Center. The route takes the parade down Sam Houston Ave., between Liberty City Hall and the Liberty County Courthouse.
As it will be dark as spectators return to their vehicles, it is recommended that everyone bring along a flashlight and be mindful of their children at all times.
On the following Saturday, Dec. 5, the City of Dayton will host its annual Spirit of Christmas parade and Nutcracker Market. Come early, beginning at 11 a.m., to shop from vendors at the Dayton Community Center, 801 S. Cleveland St., Dayton, and stay or return for the lighted Christmas Parade that starts at 6 p.m. The event will wrap up with a tree lighting at 7 p.m. outside of the community center.
The event in Dayton includes games, balloons, face painting, entertainment by local twirlers and dancers, a snow field, ornament and cookie decoration stations, hot chocolate, hot dogs, candy and more.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, there will be multiple events taking place around the historic Liberty County Courthouse and Liberty City Hall – a street rally car show, food festival, gumbo cookoff and a gift card drawing. The street rally kicks off the day at 9 a.m., followed by the food festival and cornhole tournament at 10 a.m., gumbo cookoff results at 3:30 to 5 p.m., the Candy Cane gift card drawing with the Liberty-Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce around 3:30 p.m., and the lighted Christmas parade starting just after dusk.
The food festival is being hosted by Liberty Food Festival, an organization formed by Liberty resident Ashley Davis. This will be the organization’s third event.
“It’s a community event. We are not in this to make money. This is just for the community. I used to work at Discovery Green and have experience with these events,” Davis said. “I moved back to Liberty and was kicking this idea around for a while before we started it. I remember the days of growing up in Liberty and there were different events around Liberty for families. I just want to see a return of that.”
Davis has incorporated a gumbo cookoff into the Dec. 12 event that benefits Liberty Fire Department. One hundred percent of all entry fees will go to the fire department. Throughout the day, there will be live music provided by Ryan Guidry, who performs classic songs from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Moody Blues and more.
“So what are we expecting to have at this month’s food festival? An Italian ice company from Houston, Famous Funnel Cakes, a lobster truck, local barbecue from Where There’s Smoke, There’s Flavor and a couple more who are still signing up. We shoot for about six food trucks at every food festival,” Davis said.
Some local restaurants and businesses in and around the courthouse are also expected to be open to serve customers.
At the food festival, the Liberty High School Class of 2023 will host a silent auction with donated items, so be sure to stop by their booth on the grounds outside of City Hall.
Liberty-Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Director Mary Anne Campbell said the Candy Cane drawing is a scaled-down version of the annual 500 drawing that is hosted by the Chamber. Only 800 of the $20 tickets will be sold. The tickets can be purchased in books of six tickets for $100 (the sixth ticket is free) or individually for $20. Tickets may be purchased from any Chamber Board member or at the Chamber office at 1801 Trinity Street during normal business hours.
“If we don’t have all the tickets sold in advance, then we will sell them up until the time of the drawing on Dec. 12.