Events set to kick off Bethany holidays

Bethany Beach will open its arms to the spirit of the holidays this weekend with the annual Holiday Happenings, set for Saturday, Dec. 3, and Sunday, Dec. 4.

Saturday’s events will focus on the family, with a fun-filled lineup of entertainment and activities between 3 and 6 p.m. at the town hall. Children will be able to have their faces painted starting at 3 p.m., when magical entertainment will also be provided.

At 4 p.m., Santa is due to arrive. But the time-honored tradition will get a new spin in 2005, according to Events Coordinator Gloria Farrar.

“Santa is going to have a new way to enter town,” Farrar said earlier this week. “But it’s a big secret.”

Kris Kringle-watchers will have to keep their eyes peeled as 4 p.m. nears, and the crowd gathering to await his arrival will no doubt be all the larger for the top-secret surprise about his method of conveyance.

Once the man in the red suit arrives, he’ll settle in for photos with his smallest (biggest) fans. Children will be able to get their pictures taken with the jolly old elf, at no charge.

While they wait for that chance to tell Santa their heart-felt desires for the holidays, children and their families will also be able to take their pick of special trips through the coastal town via wagon, hayride and trolley. The boarding area for the trips will be in front of the town hall.

And when it’s time to warm up again from all of winter’s brisk chill, the families will be able to retreat back into the town hall, where refreshments will be offered and entertainment provided from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. by the Lord Baltimore Elementary School Fourth-Grade Ensemble, under the direction of music teacher Dana Joseph.

At dusk, the event will reach its literal highlight — the lighting of town hall by Mayor Jack Walsh.

Holiday lovers of all ages and origins are welcome to attend the Saturday event, Farrar noted.

Children can then head home to warm up with visions of sugar plums and Santa’s coming visit in their heads. Many of the adults will meanwhile adjourn to the Bethany Beach town trolley to lend their voices to the sounds of the season, as adult caroling on the trolley sets off around the town between 6 and 8 p.m.

Seats on the trolley are by reservation only, and Farrar noted Tuesday that every seat was already spoken for. “We’re all full up,” she said.

Opportunities to participate in the caroling tradition still exist — for audiences. Farrar invited Bethany Beach residents to call town hall at (302) 539-8011 to request a visit from the trolley and its carolers, or just light up the holiday lights and see if they make a stop at the front door.

Some of the carolers were already eagerly anticipating ending their evening at the annual Caribbean Christmas event to benefit the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation. It’s set to run from 7 to 11 p.m. at nearby Mango’s this year, with food, drink, music and auctions, all to benefit the foundation’s scholarships and charitable programs.

(Tickets cost $35 per person and as of Tuesday were still available through the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and other participating businesses, including host Mango’s.)

It’s yet more holiday cheer for the adults on Sunday, Dec. 4, when the annual Adult Christmas Get-together will take place at Bethany Beach Town Hall. The event is designed to allow residents to meet and greet their neighbors in an atmosphere of winter warmth, between 3 and 6 p.m.

Again, refreshments will be provided, and live music under the direction of Mike McShane will be provided to entertain the adult guests, Farrar noted.

The events in Bethany Beach top off the kick-off week of the resort area’s holiday season, which was set to officially begin Wednesday morning with the crowning of Chief Little Owl (otherwise known as the Bethany Beach totem pole) with his traditional Santa hat by members of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company.

From the Selbyville Christmas Parade on Friday night, through the weekend of holiday-themed events in Bethany Beach and continuing on with caroling in Ocean View on Dec. 9 and Fenwick Island’s holiday tree-lighting an party Dec. 10, the resort area is reveling in the holiday spirit.