Plenty of teams and ballparks around the country are getting ready to deck the halls as they host winter events for the whole family. Here’s a quick look at what teams have up their sleeves this holiday season.
There are at least seven major league teams planning to host holiday events. The Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, and Washington Nationals are all hosting Enchant Christmas which will run from November 22-December 29 at their respective ballparks—T-Mobile Park, Tropicana Field, and Nationals Park. The event includes a light maze, an ice-skating trail, a chance to meet Santa Claus, and a Christmas market featuring local vendors and seasonal food and beverages.
The Atlanta Braves have several events planned at The Battery, adjacent to SunTrust Park. The third annual Tree Lighting will be on November 23. It is hosted by in-house reporter Greer Howard and will have guest appearances from a Braves player and Santa Claus. There will also be free Santa photos, snowflake stilt walkers, balloon twisters, candy cane hoopers, and musical performances. The night will conclude with a movie screening of The Grinch. From November 21-December 24, fans can take free photos with Santa including Santa Paws sessions for photos with pets and, on select dates, low sensory Sensitive Santa sessions for families with special needs. On December 31, The Battery will host a New Year’s Eve Bash. Braves in-game host Mark Owens will emcee the event which will include the Heavy Hitters drumline, Braves mascot BLOOPER, performance painter David Girabaldi, and the 12South Band. The midnight countdown will also have pyrotechnics, confetti, and aerial fireworks.
The Chicago Cubs are once again transforming Wrigleyville. There will be a Christkindlmarket from November 22-December 31 featuring vendors that range from ornament makers to cuckoo clocks to strudel. There will be also be a Winterland Ice Rink on Gallagher Way next to Wrigley Field from November 22-February 16. On Tuesdays, there will be ice skating performances. On certain dates, fans can also take skating lessons, curling lessons, or skate with Clark the Cub. The third annual Tree Lighting ceremony will be on December 2.
The Philadelphia Phillies also have several events planned, highlighted by a December 7 holiday sale and tree lighting. There will be holiday crafts and activities, photos with reindeer, holiday photos in the Phillies clubhouse, field, and dugouts, holiday photos with the Phillie Phanatic who will be dressed as Phanta Claus, meet and greets with Phillies broadcasters Larry Andersen, Ben Davis, Gregg Murphy, and Kevin Frandsen, a book signing with Len Epstein, a live broadcast from SportsRadio 94WIP, and the tree lighting.
The San Francisco Giants will be hosting the 10th annual Holiday Heroes event on December 10 at Oracle Park. The event is put on by the Wender Weis Foundation for Children, and connects 500 underserved children and their families with professional athletes to provide the children with hope and direction. There will be an invitation-only VIP reception on the field, featuring early entry to the batting tunnels and dugout, s’mores on the field, and children’s activities. The main reception will include arts and crafts, holiday cookie decorating, teddy bear stuffing, video games, and appearances by local athletes and mascots.
Major league teams aren’t the only ones getting in on the fun. Several minor league teams have events planned as well. The Augusta GreenJackets (Low A; Sally League) are hosting a holiday movie night on December 13 with a s’mores bar. They are letting the fans vote on which movie they would like to see, with the choices being The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or A Christmas Story. Then on December 14, the GreenJackets are hosting a holiday vendor market with over 55 vendors. Appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, inflatables, and free hot chocolate and coffee. If fans bring an unwrapped toy to donate for Toys for Tots, they will also receive a prize.
The Lansing Lugnuts (Low A; Midwest League) are bringing back their Holiday Light Show which will run on Friday and Saturday nights from November 23-December 21, and Sunday, December 22. Activities will include Sparrow Express train rides, photos with Santa, ornament making, holiday crafts, a coloring station, warming stations with fire pits, a s’mores station, holiday movies on the videoboard, food and drink specials, and a Toys for Tots donation box.
The Oklahoma City Dodgers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will host the LifeShare WinterFest and Snow Tubing at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark which will run on weekends November 29-December 8, before operating daily December 21-January 4 (except for Christmas Day). There will be two different sized snow slides. The main slide has three lanes that are 145 feet in length and the small side is 75 feet long. The annual Oklahoma City Tree Lighting Festival will also be held on November 29 on the Mickey Mantle Plaza and will feature mayor David Holt lighting the Christmas tree with Santa. The event will also feature a live band, food trucks, and face painting.
The Toledo Mud Hens (Class AAA; International League) have several events at Fifth Third Field and Hensville this holiday season. On November 23, the Hensville Tree Lightning and Light Show will take place on St. Clair Street. The event includes an appearance from Santa Claus, performances by the Toledo School for the Arts, Nye Dance Productions, and the Ottawa Hills, Waite and Perrysburg High School American Sign Language Clubs. The Hensville Lights will run from November 23 through January 5 with more than 200,000 lights. On December 14, there is the sixth annual Brewfest at Fifth Third Field. The event will showcase more than 50 breweries with more than 250 craft beers and ciders available for tasting. There will also be music, food, and a souvenir sample cup. VIP tickets are $60 while general admission tickets are $35 in advance or $45 on the day of the event.
Several spring training facilities are joining in on the holiday fun as well in 2019. Once again, Tempe Diablo Stadium, the spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels, is hosting the World of Illumination drive-thru light show. The show has millions of lights, and a 500-foot super tunnel as part of a mile-long trip. The show runs from November 20-January 5.
Goodyear Ballpark, the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, is hosting Goodyear Glows on December 7. The event includes the arrival of Santa Claus, inflatables, craft vendors, and the annual City of Goodyear tree lighting.
Independent league teams are also hosting events. The Saint Paul Saints (independent; American Association) are hosting Destination Winter Saint Paul from December 6-February 22. Activities include the Wells Fargo WinterSkate, the Securian Financial SuperSlide, and the Greatest Day Parade, honoring the 40th anniversary of the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team. WinterSkate will also offer free 30-minute skating lessons with professional skating instructors on select Saturdays throughout the season. The SuperSlide begins from the second story patio of the Securian Financial Club at CHS Field where riders plunge 40 feet down in an inner tube over the seating bowl and glide 130 feet over snow onto the field. The Greatest Day Parade will be on February 22 and starts in the morning with a hockey exhibition tournament with 12 youth teams from Saint Paul. Each team will represent a country that took part in the 1980 Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey tournament and will wear their respective sweater. The parade will be at 2 p.m. starting at the Herb Brooks Statue in Rice Park, going downtown, and ending at CHS Field. Teams to be featured in the parade will be the 1980 Men’s U.S. Olympics Ice Hockey team, along with Minnesota Olympians from the past, former Minnesota North Stars, Minnesota Fighting Saints, Minnesota Golden Gophers, other dignitaries, youth hockey teams. There will then be an Olympic-style ceremony in the ballpark, followed an autograph session featuring the Olympians, including the 1980 team.
The Sugar Land Skeeters (independent; Atlantic League) are hosting the 2019 Sugar Land Holiday Lights from November 22-January 5. The Sugar Land Holiday Lights feature over three million lights, daily appearances from Santa Claus, a carnival, and vendors for holiday shopping. They will also have a Sensory-Friendly Night on December 5 where the volume of the music will be lowered considerably, and a sensory-friendly safe room will be available. All kids in attendance on December 5 will also receive a voucher for free s’mores.
Another event to note will be held at Skylands Stadium, the home of the Sussex County Miners (independent; Frontier League). The Christmas Light Show will run on select nights from November 15-December 30, featuring more than two million sparkling lights over a mile-long course. In addition, there will be an outdoor village beginning next weekend that includes attractions such as walk-thru lights, a skating rink, eight-foot polar bear statue, and more.
Top Image from 2018 event courtesy St. Paul Saints. Image from LifeShare WinterFest Media Preview by Cody Roper/Oklahoma City Dodgers.
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