Christmas comes to Kannapolis with lights and fireworks

Published 12:05 am Monday, November 30, 2015

“Kannapolis Christmas” activities continue throughout December


By Hugh Fisher

KANNAPOLIS – With the flip of a switch, Santa Claus, Mayor Darrell Hinnant and special guests illuminated Village Park with thousands of lights, and filled the sky over downtown Kannapolis with fireworks.

Saturday’s tree-lighting was the first of the city’s “A Kannapolis Christmas” events for 2015.

Audience members sang along as brass quartet The Four Basses performed favorite carols.

Lines formed quickly for hot cocoa, s’mores and the park’s biggest attraction, the illuminated Winterland Express train.

Featuring thousands of Christmas lights, the annual light show combines new light displays with classic Christmas decorations that have been a part of Kannapolis Christmases for decades.

“This is always such a special time of year, for families in Kannapolis and for us as well,” said Becky Tolle, recreation and special events coordinator for Kannapolis Parks and Recreation. “We’re very happy that people came out to start their holiday celebrations with us.”

Organizers estimated turnout at over 1,000 with many families staying after the fireworks to ride the Winterland Express train or share wishes with Santa Claus.

The Kannapolis Singing Bears, an animatronic display, also performed their annual show of holiday songs.

This year’s celebration had a special personal touch for Parks and Recreation Director Gary Mills: Saturday was also his birthday.

“I’ve waited a lot of years to have fireworks on my birthday!” Mills joked with the crowd.

Along with the music and joy, Hinnant took a moment to remind attendees of the meaning of the season.

He asked the audience to bow for a moment of silent prayer for people in need around the world, and to remember them throughout the holidays.

And then, it was time for the fireworks.

Alexia Brown, 8, said that was her favorite part of the whole night – that, and seeing all the lights.

Her mother, Tasha Reese, said that “the best part is just spending time with family, being thankful we’re seeing another Christmas.”

Season of events

“A Kannapolis Christmas” events presented by Kannapolis Parks and Recreation continue throughout December.

The Celebration of Lights in Village Park and the Winterland Express will run nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The Kannapolis Singing Bears will perform every 30 minutes, and either Santa or Mrs. Claus will be on hand to greet children and pose for photos.

The Winterland Express and exhibits close for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then reopen Dec. 26 through Dec. 30.

Saturday, Dec. 19 is Nativity Night, with a live nativity scene, choral music, a petting zoo, vendors and other activities.

The 77th annual Kannapolis Christmas Parade, produced by the Cabarrus Events Association, will take place on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

One event from recent years will not take place this year. Mills said the Kannapolis Christmas Festival – formerly held the first Saturday in December – “had run its course,” and was discontinued this year in favor of other holiday activities.

Mills said there are many opportunities for families to enjoy the lights, ride the Winterland Express and enjoy exhibits throughout the month.

For more information on Kannapolis Christmas events, go to or call Kannapolis Parks and Recreation at 704-920-4300.