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November 27, 1996

Perry is fortunate to be one of the towns chosen for a visit by the 1996 Santa Express, a special holiday treat made possible by the good folks of Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad. The train will be here for a 40-minute stopover on the evening of Friday, November 29, with an arrival time of 7:10 p.m. The train will be parked at the Seventh street crossing of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe tracks, a short distance south of the Noble County Family YMCA building.

The Santa Express is provided by employees of the railroad to say "thank you" to the communities along their route. This is the fourth year the Express has been used, and both the route and the train itself have been expanded during that time.

Youngsters and adults alike will be delighted with the train. It will have 20,000 twinkling lights, 24 7-foot tall candy canes, a Santa on the front of the engine, a red and white snow plow, a siren, tank car, boxcar, two flatcars and a caboose. A large sign identifying it as the Santa Express will be prominently displayed.

Each of the train's cars will be colorfully decorated with lights and other traditional Christmas ornaments. A program of musical entertainment will highlight the stopover, with Santa himself to be on hand to greet the crowd. The parking lot across the street from the YMCA may be used, so families will have only a short distance to walk to take in the fun. That part of Seventh street will be blocked off to traffic while the train is here. The Chamber of Commerce is helping out by providing hot chocolate, coffee and popcorn for sale that night, with proceeds to benefit the Ministerial Alliance.

The Santa Express is just the leadoff event for Christmas activities in Perry. On the night of Friday, December 6, Santa Claus again will be here for the annual Christmas parade, which will start winding around the square at about 6 p.m., sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Perry Business Association. Santa will set up in the courthouse park that evening. Carolers will be posted at several locations around the square for the enjoyment of all who turn out.

After the parade, the second annual Christmas Food Court in the Courthouse will be held, sponsored by Perry Main Street. Last year's inaugural Food Court was a resounding success, and an even greater selection of food will be offered this year. It again will include the popular array of desserts on the upper levels of the courthouse.

A really big weekend will be ushered in the following morning, on Saturday, December 7. Kicking it off at 10 a.m. will be Perry's annual Pet Parade, described by some as organized chaos for youngsters and their squirming pets. Each child making it around the square will be rewarded with a shiny half-dollar. In addition to pets, youngsters may parade with dolls, small wagons and similar carriages, bicycles, or virtually anything a child considers "special." Only small animals are allowed as pets. This traditional event, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, usually draws dozens of children along with some parents helping them to complete the route. Santa Claus will lead the parade mounted aboard one of the city's big fire trucks, and he will be at his workshop that day until about noon. Various Perry school bands will provide music.

That evening, the first annual Christmas Ball sponsored by Perry Main Street will be held at the armory from 8 p.m. to midnight. Music will be provided by the Sammy Pagna Big Band. Valet parking will be available, and the ball is being promoted as a formal affair. The armory is being transformed into an elegant ballroom once again, as it was for the Centennial Ball in 1993, and guests are promised a gala, enjoyable evening. Carol McPeek and Myra Woods are selling advance tickets.

Climaxing that great weekend will be the annual Christmas Tour of Homes on Sunday, December 8. Five homes and a new bed and breakfast site will be visited, with a trip to the Cherokee Strip Museum on West Fir Avenue for a holiday tea to wind things up. The Chamber of Commerce and the Noble County Historical Society cooperate in staging this event. Tickets for this also are on sale.

Santa Claus also will be in Perry the mornings of December 14 and 21 from about 10 a.m. to noon. He will be located at his small workshop in the courthouse park, and undoubtedly he will have candy treats for boys and girls who come to see him.

All these events should be marked on your calendar, along with the other holiday attractions being planned at the schools, churches and other organizations. Yes, it's a busy season, but aren't we glad these folks are planning such wonderful entertainment for our enjoyment? That's something else for which we should be thankful. Let's take in every one of them!