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STEPHEN HEMELT — Jingle All The Way to fun with the Museum of the Gulf Coast

Museum of the Gulf Coast officials welcomed the community to a safe and socially distanced outdoor fall festival in October, eventually hosting hundreds of visitors over a four-hour period.

The success has led the Port Arthur institution to again open of its grounds for free family fun, this time planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 12).

“What we always try to do with all of our events is make sure they are for all ages,” Brittany Delagarza told me last week. “We never want it to be just for kids only. We want the adults to have fun, too.”

Delagarza, who wears many hats for the museum, is the education, tour and volunteer coordinator, tasked with helping lead an event that is safe and fun.

The museum’s Oct. 31 festival was held completely outdoors with all vendors and organizations socially distanced. Masks were required, and there was plenty of available hand sanitizer.

“We had about 400 people throughout the day,” Delagarza said. “We were glad people came in as not all one big crowd at any one time. With our events being from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., that usually gives people plenty of time to stop by at their convenience instead of everything happening at 10 a.m. It was spread out throughout the day.”

This month’s family fun is themed “Jingle All The Way” and comes with many entertainment options, including:

  • Parrot performance by Sonny “The Birdman” as seen on America’s Got Talent,
  • Natural education with Village Creek State Park,
  • Pictures with Santa,
  • Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren by Charitable Force,
  • Christmas stories by Carolyn Thibodeaux from Port Arthur Library,
  • Horse experience by Stable Spirit,
  • Face painting,
  • Snake education experience, and
  • Firefighters and fire truck from the Port Arthur Fire Department.

Delagarza said museum leaders are most excited to welcome the community to the location at 700 Procter St., not to generate money, noting the Dec. 12 event is free.

“The biggest thing we care about here at the museum is giving back to the community, especially during this time of the year,” she said. “A lot of people are not going to be able to do these kinds of things and take their kids somewhere they feel safe. With us holding this event completely outdoors, it opens the opportunity up to feel safe enough to bring their families. We’re going to have Santa, so we are definitely going to keep the Christmas spirit alive here.”

Sonny “The Birdman” should bring some extra flair, as his parrot can perform tricks, fly around and interact with attendees.

“We’re excited to see the kind of show he is going to put on,” Delagarza said.

This month’s Christmas experience should hopefully lead to a brighter future for the museum and community in 2021, especially with the hopes of a vaccine and eventual social distance lessening.

“We have been trying to be as optimistic as we can,” Delagarza said. “I’m sure the vaccine will make some people feel more comfortable. We’re just hoping for a better year altogether. Whatever new version of 2021 we are going to get, we’re optimistic and excited for it.”

Stephen Hemelt is president of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at stephen.hemelt@panews.com or 409-721-2445.