‘Tis the season to celebrate in Cookeville

When it comes to celebrating the holiday season, Cookevillians know how it’s done. Numerous local events and activities are quickly filling the final pages of calendars all over the city… and beyond.

People visit Cookeville Depot

Citizens gather at the Cookeville Depot for the museum’s annual Christmas Open House.

Cookeville Depot Christmas Open House

Up first is the Cookeville Depot Museum’s annual Christmas Open House on Dec. 3. There, families can visit with Santa and his elves, see a live reindeer and new model train, and enjoy cookies, cider and caroling between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Santa takes a cookie break from noon to 1 p.m.) Other activities include Christmas karaoke, Santa beanbag toss and snowball wreath toss.

“People have been coming to the Depot Christmas Open House for years and years,” Cookeville museums manager Beth Thompson said, adding that this year’s theme is Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. “It’s become a tradition.”

The event has become so popular, Thompson said, that this year the depot is trying something new in an effort to reduce the waiting time for little ones wishing to meet Santa.

“We’re dividing people into groups so they won’t have to wait in line so long. We’ll stamp their hand so they can do other activities until their group is called.”

The depot, constructed by the Tennessee Central Railway in 1909, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 116 W. Broad St. Admission is free. Call 931-528-8570 to learn more.

People gather around Christmas tree

Citizens admire the nearly 40-foot Christmas tree at Dogwood Park.

Tree Lighting Ceremony

What’s more magical than colorful, twinkling lights on a Christmas tree? A light show synchronized to holiday music.

And that’s just what Cookevillians have to look forward to Dec. 4, when Santa makes a special appearance at Dogwood Park at 6 p.m. to flip the switch to light the nearly 40-foot community Christmas tree erected over the fountain.

“The response last year was overwhelming,” Cookeville Leisure Services Director Rick Woods said, referring to 2015’s inaugural event. “It’s great to have our community come together in the park for this occasion. It’s a wonderful feeling, and this year we’re expecting as many people or even more to come and experience it.”

The tree-lighting ceremony, which is part of the city’s month-long Christmas in the Park celebration, follows the 50th annual Cookeville Christmas Parade. After the lighting, several school, community and church groups will lead attendees in singing carols during a Christmas Celebration Service. The service will also include the reading of the Christmas story.

Then at 7 p.m., the crowd will be treated to a 15-minute Christmas tree light show synchronized to music. The show will repeat every hour on the hour from 5-9 p.m. throughout the holiday season. In between shows, tree lights will continue to twinkle, creating a festive atmosphere in the park until 10 p.m. each night through Jan. 2. The tree sits atop a four-foot “drum” base constructed by city maintenance workers.

“Christmas in the Park will be bigger and better this year,” Woods said. “The tree is a little taller, and we’ll have additional displays and surprises in the park after opening night. Just wait and see.”

For more information about Dogwood Park, located at 30 E. Broad St., call Cookeville Leisure Services at 931-520-4386 or visit www.cookeville-tn.org/ls.

Santa house at Dogwood Park

Santa awaits children in his little red house at Dogwood Park.

Santa at Dogwood Park

The jolly man in red will be making several appearances at Dogwood Park this holiday season.

Following the community Christmas tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 4, Santa’s little red house will be on site so families can visit him Dec. 10, 11, 17, 18 and 19.

Bring a camera for an opportunity to take a photo with Santa and his elves free from 1-4 p.m. on the weekends and 4-7 p.m. on Dec. 19.



See a Christmas forest at the Cookeville History Museum starting Dec. 10.

See a Christmas forest at the Cookeville History Museum starting Dec. 10.

Christmas Forest

Dogwood Park isn’t the only destination for Christmas tree lovers. An entire “forest” awaits at the Cookeville History Museum. The museum’s holiday exhibit, “Christmas Forest,” opens Dec. 10 with a reception from 1-3 p.m.

“People are really excited about it,” Cookeville museums manager Beth Thompson said. “It’s brand new and could possibly become an annual display.”

Earlier this fall, the museum offered local non-profit groups and civic organizations the opportunity to bring a Christmas tree to the museum and decorate it themselves as a way to show their holiday spirit while spreading awareness of their missions. Among the 11 groups participating in the Christmas Forest are the Putnam County Library, Daughters of the American Revolution, Cumberland Art Society and Putnam County Home Demonstration Club.

“Each tree has a theme, and most of the ornaments are hand-crafted,” Thompson said. “The trees are completely different from each other.”

Santa himself will stop by during the opening reception to inspect the trees, as well as visit with children. The exhibit continues through Dec. 31. The museum, located a short distance from Dogwood Park at 40 E. Broad St., is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free. Call 931-528-5455 for more information.

Children ice skating

Skaters glide across a synthetic ice rink during Downtown Ice.

Downtown Ice

A new after-Christmas tradition awaits. For the second year in a row, the City of Cookeville will be presenting Downtown Ice Dec. 26-30 as part of its Christmas in the Park festivities.

“I think folks are really excited about it,” Cookeville Leisure Services Director Rick Woods said. “We had a very good response from the public last year, so we wanted to continue offering this event and make it even better. We’re expecting big crowds.”

During Downtown Ice, visitors can enjoy ice skating in a synthetic ice rink in the parking lot across from Dogwood Park on East Broad Street daily from noon to 8 p.m., with the backdrop of the community Christmas tree and its musical light show adding to the whimsical, wintry atmosphere. And new this year, a Snowzilla Ski Slope awaits adults and older children, while a Toboggan Tunnel aims to please the younger crowd.

The inaugural event in 2015 attracted thousands from throughout the Upper Cumberland who were eager to take advantage of the city’s first ice skating and snow tubing event. While neither real ice nor snow was actually present, Woods said the effect was pleasing all the same.

“It was a great feeling being there,” he said. “Downtown Ice is a fun, wholesome, family-oriented event and a great treat for the kids while they’re on winter break.”

The cost is $5 for ice skating and $5 for five slides. Tickets may be purchased on site or in advance Dec. 1-22 from the Cookeville Performing Arts Center or CityScape. Call 931-528-1313 for more information.

* * * *

The Department of Leisure Services and Public Facilities is the leading provider of recreational and educational programs, classes and events in this area. We are responsible for all city parks, the Cookeville Performing Arts Center, Cane Creek Recreation Center and Gymnasium, Cane Creek SportsPlex, Cookeville Depot and History museums, maintenance of all city buildings, and Cookeville City Cemetery. We provide programs, classes and special events throughout the year, many of which are free.

Online registration is available for classes, events and programs, and reservations for shelters.
register 1

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

 Mission Statement

Our mission is to enhance the quality of life by being the leading provider of quality leisure time activities, programs, events, facilities and open space for our citizens. That mission is guided by some basic beliefs:

— We believe in safety and cleanliness.

— We believe in being creative, innovative and progressive.

— We believe offering a money-back guarantee indicates our commitment to quality and excellence.

— We believe our people, whether full-time, part-time or temporary, are our most important resource and asset.

— We believe our facility users and program participants’ first impression will be their lasting impression.

— We believe word of mouth is the most important form of publicity and marketing.

— We believe in being courteous, helpful, attentive and fair.

— We believe in protecting and preserving open space and parks in order to enhance the quality of life for future generations.

— We believe in making the good life better.