Historic Guthrie specializes in nostalgia during its annual, month-long holiday celebration

Now that the last remnants of the turkey and dressing are gone, it's time to get your Christmas spirit into high gear. There may be no better place to do it than Guthrie, which turns into a colorful Christmas Past each December.

The official kick-off for the season takes place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. According to Mary Coffin, Guthrie Chamber president, "The parade includes the Territorial Governors, civic clubs and, of course, Santa. And our Santa rides an old-fashioned, big-wheeled bicycle."

The parade marches Guthrie's historic streets from the junior high, 705 E. Oklahoma, down Second Street to Harrison.

Following the parade, there'll be entertainment at the post office and the city's Christmas tree will be lighted. Guides will be on hand to take visitors on a "Journey to the Manger," a walking tour past live scenes depicting the story of Mary and Joseph ending at the nativity scene complete with real animals.

Candlelight trolley tours, which start Thursday, will take visitors on a route past brightly decorated homes. 

"This is a different route from the regular trolley tours," said Melissa Fessler, director of First Capital Trolley. "We won't be talking about the architecture or the history like we usually do. Instead, the narration will feature letters from Guthrie describing Christmas in the Victorian period."

Trolley tours leave from the State Capital Publishing Museum, 301 W. Harrison, at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, through Dec. 23. There's a possibility of cookie stops during the tours, and on Dec. 11 and 18, riders can pop into the museum for a cup of hot wassail served by hosts and hostesses in Victorian dress. Candlelight trolley tour tickets are $3. Group reservations are available by calling 282-6000.

Christmas music is a big part of the season, and the Oklahoma Choral Artists' Family Christmas Concert at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center Auditorium has become a favorite tradition. The OCA singers, directed by John Blackwell, will also be joined by the Guthrie High School Concert Choir, the Edmond Youth Chorus and harpist Jill Justice. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Tickets, available at the door, are $5, with all proceeds going to benefit Masonic charities.

The Byron Berline Band presents its regular concerts on Dec. 11 and 18 at the Music Hall, 121 E. Oklahoma. Count on some holiday hues among the traditional bluegrass. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Although $10 tickets are usually available at the door, calling 282-6646 for reservations is a good idea.

"A Territorial Christmas Carol," a theatrical adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol," is a 23-year tradition at the Pollard Theatre, 120 W. Harrison. The house is often sold-out for this popular presentation that runs through Dec. 23. For tickets for the Wednesday through Saturday evening performances or the Saturday or Sunday matinees, call 282-2800 or purchase online at www.thepollard.org.

The back-in-time magic of Guthrie's Territorial Christmas celebration is at its peak during the Victorian Walks on Dec. 11 and 18. Starting at 5 p.m., carolers crowd the street corners and vendors peddle peanuts to downtown strollers who are out enjoying the live window displays reflecting this year's theme, "Christmas Memories."

For a peek inside some of Guthrie's most gorgeous old homes, don't miss the Historic Homes Tour on Dec. 11. Seven century-plus residences will be opened to the public, including the Joseph Foucart-designed Heilman House, 401 E. Cleveland; the Cassius Barnes House, 411 E. Noble; the McElhinney-Poer House, 716 E. Noble; the Walton Derr House, 1517 W. Noble; the Houghton House, now the Stone Lion Inn, 1016 W. Warner; the Charles West House, 1403 W. Cleveland; and the neoclassical Italianate-style Judge Frank Dale House, 201 N. 13th. 

Tickets for the self-guided tour are available in advance for $15 at the Guthrie Chamber, 212 W. Oklahoma, or at any of the homes on the day of the tour for $20.

"Tour guests will also receive a calendar with drawings of all the homes on the tour plus five other historic Guthrie homes," said Joy Newton, tour chairwoman.

The houses may be toured between 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., with the exception of the Stone Lion, which is open from noon until 2 p.m.

If you can't find your "Happy Holidays" spirit in the historic town, stay home and knit yourself a sweater " perhaps with "Bah! Humbug!" on the front.

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