In the middle of Dean Porter Park, something magical is happening.
The park is being transformed into a holiday village for all to see. Thirty-three small cottages have been transported to the park and are being worked on in preparation for the annual Holiday Village Brownsville.
There’s a lot of excitement about this year’s event after in-person visitation was not possible last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Laurie Ray, chair for the Holiday Village Brownsville.
This year’s grand opening will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 22.
Admission to the Holiday Village Brownsville is free and open to all.
“Once the city started to have vaccines readily available and people started to feel a little bit more safe to come out, it seemed like the time to try and open. So far it is very well received. We are thankful that it is an outdoor event and we don’t worry about COVID spreading,” she said. “We hope people will be mindful of social distancing a little but I know that is difficult with a thousand people a night in the park.
“The world is ready to get out and do things and we are happy that our event is going to be one of those things they can share.”
Although masks will not be required for visitors, people attending are advised to practice COVID-19 safety protocols, and those who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus are encouraged to wear facial coverings. “I would think masks would be a smart option,” Ray said.
There will be door prizes and music on opening night, and at 7 p.m. they will flip the lights on on the cottages. The lights will stay on until the park closes each evening.
“Everyday after that the lights will turn on at 6 o’clock and will stay on until the park’s closing and that will go on until New Year’s,” she said.
The park lights at Dean Porter Park stay on until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Santa Claus will make appearances from Thanksgiving Week until Dec. 23. He will be at the Holiday Village on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday nights
The Holiday Village Brownsville Committee works on the cottages year round, soliciting sponsors, coming up with designs and collecting materials that will be used on them. The transporting of the cottages to the park began on Nov. 1.
“That leaves our decorators two weeks to get them decorated, ready to go and ready to open on Nov. 22,” Ray said.
There will be two new cottages at this year’s Holiday Village. One will be Frosty Bank, sponsored by Frost Bank, which will have a snowman theme. The second newcomer is sponsored by Orange Theory Fitness, which will be an exercise gym and will be called Tinsel Theory.
“They should both be really cute cottages,” she said.
Other sponsors include H-E-B Helping Here, GMS, Nova Link, Lower Valley Dental Associate, the Brownsville Independent School District, the Brownsville Historical Association and Lucy Lopez, a girl scout who earned Gold award designing a cottage.
Although the Holiday Village isn’t open yet, people have been showing up to the park walking around the cottages to look at them. Many are empty but the public is just happy to see them going up.
“The response has very positive and we already had so many school groups from all over Valley come to the zoo and then come to the park on their lunch hour and walk them through the village,” Ray said.
Ray said viewing the village at night is a lot more fun because you can see all the lights, but it’s fun to look at them during the daytime as well.
“At night you don’t see all the colors of the cottages on the outside but it’s a very colorful display and helps put you in the mood,” for the holidays, she said.
This is the holiday village’s 12th year. During the first year, there were nine cottages.
Because there is a restriction as to how many cottages a warehouse can hold, there is only room for 33 right now.
“Our warehouse is in difficult shape, it needs a lot of repairs and we would love a new warehouse, but the city is so kind that they house us at a warehouse at the airport,” Ray said. “I’m sure they would love to have real renter in that spot.”