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It’s soon time to build on our bruises

A year should be long enough for the bruises of last Christmas season to heal, making way for new ones.

When the synthetic ice — temperatures will be in the 60s, clearly the real stuff wouldn’t do — is laid out on the bluff this weekend, the falls are sure to follow.

Just ask those who tried a new Christmas in Natchez tradition last year.

It didn’t take long for Cooper Murray, 13 at the time, to learn that safe ice skating meant staying close to the railing and learning to fall “slowly.”

The teen was one of many area youth who enjoyed their first time on the ice, fake as it might have been, and was already hoping for a return of the rink this year.

Cooper’s wish will come true this Saturday and Sunday, when the rink is installed on the bluff, in the area behind Callon Petroleum.

For those not so ready to “fall slowly,” the weekend’s Christmas events have been expanded.

The annual fall fun day to benefit Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital was moved this year, to link up with the ice skating rink.

The event brings games and activities for children, hot dogs, treats and more to the bluff.

A petting zoo will also be set up, and a local Relay for Life team is hosting dancing on the bluff for all ages of fun-loving folks who don’t mind busting a few moves.

Saturday’s ice skating will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dancing will start at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday, the rink will open at 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m.

A time-limited skate is $15, and skates are provided.

The events highlight the last big weekend of Christmas in Natchez, though a few more events will continue up until Christmas day.

The concerted effort by a few community members to organize special events between Thanksgiving and Christmas continues to be a needed and wonderful addition to the Natchez calendar.

Other events this weekend include Friday night’s Christmas Cabaret at 7 p.m. at the City Auditorium and the Jingle All the Way River Bridge 5K beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

If Natchez hopes to continue to sustain its tourism industry, Christmas in Natchez must continue to grow. Gone are the days when a mass pilgrimage each fall and spring will be enough to support our service industry community.

Those pilgrimages are still important, but they aren’t enough. Tourists are changing, and we must offer more.

At the same time, locals have shown that they will support Christmas events by staying at home to play if the opportunity is provided. Finding more ways to turn over the dollar in our own community is just as crucial.

After all, the best way to heal an ice skating bruise — to the knee and the ego — is to grab a bite to eat on the bluff or at a downtown restaurant and do a bit of shopping, right?

The foundation has been laid in recent years for a third Natchez tourism season. But it’s time to build upon that.

Could the paid professionals in our city’s tourism department take the work of volunteers to the next level?

That may be what it takes if we seek to become a Christmas destination.

 

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

 

 

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