Preparations are underway and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s annual Festival of Lights is less than three weeks away.
The Perkinston Campus will light up with activities for the whole family from 4-8 p.m. December 8.
This year, teachers, faculty, students and community members can enjoy taking pictures with Santa Claus and other popular Christmas characters, music, rides for children and a petting zoo for free. There will also be cash only food booths as well as a silent auction throughout the event.
“The Festival of Lights is a one-of-a-kind event offered to the community, and Gulf Coast students, employees and their families,” said Ladd Taylor, vice president of the Perkinston Campus and George County Center. “It’s an event that everyone at Gulf Coast looks forward to participating in each year and is truly a community event, including choral group performances, train rides, a petting zoo, and so much more.”
Children and adults may also enjoy painting their own personal ceramic mug or plate for a $10 material fee.
Daniel Calcote, MGCCC ceramics instructor, is looking forward to seeing some creativity.
He will be manning the table for ceramics at Darby Hall.
“The Festival of Lights is a great thing,” he said.
This will be the celebration’s 22nd year.
It originated in the winter of 1997.
The event was mainly focused around lights and a picture with Santa and was originally called “Light Up The Campus.”
Over the years, it has expanded to include more entertainment.
What hasn’t changed is the fun activities for all ages.
In years past, Calcote said the paint-a-mug has been a popular stop for festival-goers.
He has been preparing ceramic items to be painted for weeks.
He said the booth will stay open through the event, but they might have to limit people to 30 minutes before finishing so everyone has a chance to fully decorate their pieces with glazes.
Calcote said many children paint mugs and give them as Christmas gifts for their grandparents or other family members, so the booth is an easy way to get a handmade gift ready.
“I enjoy the energy you see and the excitement they get when they’re making something,” he said.
He always sees a wide variety of new artists and the activity is certainly not reserved for the children.
Calcote said one older man would show up year after year and paint an elaborate scene on a plate. It was his yearly Christmas gift to his wife.
Since this is the only hands-on time he gets with the kids, he tries to encourage them to be creative while he can.
“I like to see the children’s faces while they’re doing it.” he said. “The thing is, I never see (the final outcome).”
Once the ceramic pieces are fired in the kiln and have a final glaze, they are available to be picked up at the art building the following week.