It's a holly, jolly weekend: Several events to usher in holiday season

Do you love Christmas? Is it your “most wonderful time of the year,” as the song suggests?Well, you are in luck.The Christmas season arrives with a purpose this coming weekend, with parades, lighting displays, concerts and several other activities filling the schedule.VAMC Lightingof the LightsThe first of the holiday events will be Friday evening, when the local VA Medical Center hosts its annual tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.Daniel L. Marsh, medical center director for the West Texas VA Health Care System, assisted by area children, will throw the switch on the VA Medical Center's holiday lights, according to VA officials.The fun doesn't stop with the lights, which will not only illuminate the Christmas tree located inside the medical center's lobby, but also much of the facility's outside, as well.Santa Claus will visit with all of the children. Refreshments will be served, as well.The public is welcomed to attend this free-of-charge event, officials said.For more information, call 264-4824.CanterburyChristmas BazaarThe Canterbury Christmas Bazaar — which will be located at 1700 S. Lancaster — is slated for 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday.The 21st annual bazaar will feature a wide variety of gift items, including jewelry woodcrafts, handmade quilts and home décor, organizers said.More than 30 vendors are expected to be selling their wares at the event.For more information, call 432-263-1238.Herald CommunityChristmas ParadeA near-record number of entries will highlight the Big Spring Herald's annual Community Christmas Parade Saturday evening.Parade Coordinator Rick Nunez said more than 40 entries have been registered for the parade, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the intersection of Gregg and 24th streets. The parade will proceed north on Gregg to Eighth, east to Scurry, north to Fourth, then east to Main.Awards will be presented in the following categories: Best of Show (best interpretation of the parade's them of “A Storybook Christmas”; Publisher's Award (best use of lighting); and Grand Marshal's Award (for best costuming). Also, certificates will be awarded to the best entries in the following categories — individual/family; civic/school; commercial; industrial; and mounted.“I think this will be one of the best parades we've ever had,” Nunez said.”It's certainly generating a lot of excitement and we hope everyone can come watch.”For more information, contact the Herald at 263-7331.The LivingChristmas TreeThis Big Spring holiday tradition will hold its 34th annual rendition at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at First United Methodist Church.The event is free to the public, but tickets must be obtained at the church office. A dress rehearsal at 2 p.m. Saturday also is open to the public and no ticket is required for that performance.The Living Christmas Tree, for the uninitiated, is exactly that — a 2,000-pound Christmas tree populated by more than 130 singers dressed as ornaments.While the event will be familiar to those who have attended before, the program is tweaked every year to provide something new. Aside from long-time classics, newer holiday standards will be performed.For more information, contact the church office at 267-6394.BreakfastWith SantaSanta and Mrs. Claus will be stopping at the Heritage Museum Saturday. This won't just be a normal stop though, the Claus' will be having breakfast with the children of Big Spring, helping them decorate a gingerbread house and Christmas ornaments. “This went over really well last year and we figured we would bring it back this year and give more kids the opportunity to have breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus,” said Nancy Raney, museum director. The cost is $3 per child plus one canned good, which will benefit the First Baptist Church food pantry. There are 30-minute time slots from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. that parents can sign their children up for. Later that day, the museum will hold its annual Parade Watching Party beginning at 4:30 p.m.To make reservations, call the museum at 267-8255 or send an email to Still to comeOther upcoming Christmas activities include the First Church of the Nazarene's Drive Through Nativity from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 10-12 and a Symphonic Christmas, featuring the Big Spring Symphony, the Coahoma Choir Kids and soloists Joyce Bradley and Lawrence Thibeault at 8 p.m. Dec. 15 in the Municipal Auditorium. Also, Comanche Trail Park comes alive with more than 1 million lights each evening from Dec. 16 through Dec. 31.