HOLT — Locals are flocking to Country Christmas, a nursery’s month-long fundraiser to benefit a church youth group.
Last weekend, kids could meet Santa Claus, watch an outdoor Christmas movie, and participate in face painting and ornament making at Oliver’s Nursery. Many patrons walked through the lighted Christmas displays while kids played in the snow pit, which stayed occupied the entire night.
Many families were from Holt, but some came from neighboring communities Crestview and Baker.
“We saw the ad in the paper,” said Larry Laux of Baker, who with his wife Debra brought granddaughter Shayla Hampton, 3, to visit Santa.
“She wouldn’t have anything to do with it,” Laux said.
Still, Laux was grateful the nursery organized the event.
“There are not a whole lot of things to take kids to around here,” he said.
The inaugural event already has one family planning for more.
"Were starting a family tradition here," said Penny Waltman, who with husband Ben and her stepdaughter Elizabeth, 13, visited from Crestview.
The Waltmans — who also visited the nursery’s pumpkin patch in October — hope the nursery will add more family friendly events to its calendar.
"Hopefully, they will do something for Easter," Ben Waltman said.
First Baptist Church of Holt’s youth group will get a financial boost from Oliver's Nursery, which will donate profits from its December Christmas tree and wreath sales.
Proceeds will benefit an upcoming youth Bible study at Camp Whispering Pines in Citronelle, Ala., according to Youth Minister Eric Reid, who expects admission fees of $195 per student.
Youth group members volunteer at Country Christmas, which runs 4-8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays this month, through Dec. 22.
For $6, kids can have an armband, which covers unlimited playtime in a snow pit and haystack.
Parents and kids can take a nighttime hayride around the nursery for $2; kids 3 and under ride free.
The armband also allows kids to make Christmas ornaments and sand art and have their faces painted. Individual prices for these events are also available.
Food and drinks, including homemade chili, hotdogs and funnel cakes, will be available.
Last weekend, Hannah Lindsay and Alanna Reid were in charge of the face-painting booth, which drew a number of children.
"We've probably seen about 50 kids (come to the booth)," Hannah Lindsay said.
Boys and girls of different ages, and some adults, stopped by for the facial treatment.
"A 64-year-old woman had me do it," Hannah said. "I gave her a Christmas tree on one cheek and a snow flake on the other."
Many of the boys wanted Spiderman painted on their faces.
"I had a little boy come up to me and say 'spiders.’ His mom told me he was still in Halloween mode," Alanna said.
The youth group members expressed gratitude for the fundraiser.
"Oliver's is really good about working with the community," Lindsay said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.