As fall semester is coming to an end, holiday festivities are in sight for Weber State University students, and since WSU has a higher percentage of non-traditional students with children than most universities, many Wildcats are looking for fun family activities.

“I love this time of year because it means another semester of school is over, and there’s more free time to spend time doing things with my family,” said Brayden Carter, a business accounting major at WSU.  “This time of year also means there are lots of activities to do around the community that are very inexpensive and fun.”

Santa Claus is preparing for his arrival in Ogden on Nov. 26 for the Holiday Electric Light Parade. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. and goes south on Washington Boulevard, from 22nd St. to 26th St.  The parade features decorative floats with Christmas and other winter holiday themes, along with performers. At the end of the parade, Santa will flip the switch to turn on the lights of Christmas Village and launch the month-long holiday celebration with Christmas Village on display at Municipal Gardens. Parade floats will be on display after the parade along 25th St. throughout the night. There will also be live entertainment in the amphitheater and a fireworks show to complete the evening.

Ogden City’s Christmas Village began in 1962, and each year, thousands of visitors come to view the Christmas lights and cottages as well as local families and students who have made visiting Christmas Village part of their Christmas tradition. The village brightens downtown Ogden with its Christmas lights every year from the Saturday after Thanksgiving through the first weekend in January. The Christmas Village also displays multiple cottages, each one having its own theme, and is designed to represent Santa’s North Pole Village.

“The Christmas Village is such a fun activity to do with children,” said Maegan Parker, a health promotions major at WSU. “My child loved all the lights, and it really felt like the North Pole, which really brings the Christmas spirit to life.”

Children are invited into Santa’s castle every Monday through Saturday night. Photos with Santa are available, and proceeds will benefit Christmas Village.

Other local cities also offer their own festive light shows. Layton City Christmas lights are located in the Layton City Park, the “Fantasy at the Bay” drive-through holiday light display is at Willard Bay State Park, and the lights at Temple Square are in Salt Lake City.

Some students at WSU have made Heber Valley Railroad’s North Pole Express in Heber City a family tradition to do with their families every year. Jordan Watson, a technical sales major at WSU, said he enjoys visiting the railroad with his children.

“My favorite part of the North Pole Express is that you get to be a part of the magic of Christmas, just like in the book The Polar Express,” he said. “My kids love the train, and I love watching them get so excited over the whole experience.”

On the Heber Valley Railroad’s North Pole Express, local choirs perform holiday songs and lead passengers in sing-a-longs during their round-trip journey to the North Pole. Elves serve hot cocoa and cookies to the passengers before the arrival at the North Pole, where Santa Claus boards the train. Passengers are also invited to wear their pajamas aboard the North Pole Express.

For more information on the Heber Valley Railroad or to purchase tickets, students can visit www.hebervallyrr.org.

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