Decked Halls

Candlelight at Old City Park reminds us of a very special episode of Gilmore Girls. It was the one where Lorelai planned the big dinner at the Independence Inn for the townsfolk of Stars Hollow because the original guests had gotten snowed in. There were carriage rides and music and period costumes and...You didn't see it? Guess we're the only ones whose knowledge of holiday tradition we learned from the WB. In any case, Candlelight at Old City Park takes that one-hour TV show and stretches it into three days of holiday festivities with different activities each night. Friday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., is An Evening of Urban Cheer, and this night is designed for adults. There will be live jazz, wine by the glass, a buffet and historically decorated homes. Saturday's theme is Festival in the Village, and this evening's fun is acceptable for the kiddies, who can enjoy children's activities, holiday music, carriage rides, candlelit pathways and, of course, historically decorated homes. Saturday's events start at 5 p.m. and continue through 10 p.m. A Truly Historic Holiday, Sunday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., takes a look back with Civil War re-enactors, period children's games, artisans and, you guessed it, historically decorated homes. Tickets for Friday are $15 for Old City Park members and $20 for the rest of us. Saturday and Sunday tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, $5 for children 3 to 12 and free for children under 3. Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance each night, and did we mention the historically decorated homes? Reduced-price tickets are available at Dallas-area Minyard Food Stores, Carnival Food Stores and Sack 'n Save. Old City Park is located at 1717 Gano St. Call 214-421-5141 or visit --Rhonda Reinhart

Lush Life
You know the old saying: If you can't own one, tour one. On December 13 and December 14 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Swiss Avenue Women's Guild offers tours of two homes in the historic old-money neighborhood, 5323 Swiss Ave. and 5303 Swiss Ave., decked out for the Christmas holidays. We're not sure which houses those are, but we can guess one thing: They're big. Mammoth. Behemoth. Massplendiferous. (OK, now we're just making up words.) The Swiss Avenue tour, whose proceeds go to charity, offers a sneak peek at how the other 1 percent lives. The vaulted ceilings, the gorgeous curved staircases and the rare antiques. Plus a bunch of other jaw-dropping stuff we don't know about because this is the closest we get to luxury unless we don a French maid outfit and start sweeping zee floh. Tickets are $5 to $10 and available at the Starbucks in Lakewood, Highland Park Village and West Village. --Sarah Hepola

Bright Lights,(Not a) Big City

We're totally lifting this: "There is always something going on at the Irving Arts Center!" The center's implied excitement is palpable to us at the moment, as the annual tree decoration awards ceremony is being held on Friday. See, area schools decorate trees within a given theme, and prizes are awarded thusly. This year's theme? The Brights Lights of Broadway. Imagine: Carol Channing angel toppers. Hal Linden snowflakes. Scalped tickets as tinsel. In a word..."awesome." Word of warning, kids: These trees are flammable, so it's probably best to stay away from the homemade Harvey Fierstein holiday balls. Otherwise, go nuts. Give your regards between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Irving Arts Center at 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Suite 300. Call 972-252-7558. --Matt Hursh

Like a Virgin
St. Lucia is remembered for her patience and faith

Not many women would consider a sexless existence in order to keep their mothers alive. But in the days of old, a prayer for another's good health in return for a lifelong sacrifice usually did the trick. A devout Christian, Lucia of Syracuse promised this daunting feat to her God, and her mother's illness subsided. After this profound event, she distributed her dowry to the poor, which caused a ruckus with her man. He denounced her Christianity, persecuted and blinded her. She regained her vision only to die by the sword. In honor of her martyrdom, during the holiday season in Sweden, communities choose a girl to represent the greatness of St. Lucia. The Swedish Women's Education Association of Dallas will hold its very own Lucia Celebration on Saturday at 2 p.m. at King of Glory Lutheran Church, 6411 LBJ Freeway. After the candlelight procession and choir music, Jultomten--a.k.a. Santa--will visit with children. Admission is free, and donations are appreciated. Call 972-661-9435. --Desirée Henry

Fest Wishes
Get ready for Kwanzaa with holiday 101

Santa-baby won't be at this free party, but he's not on the guest list anyway. Kwanzaa is an African-American harvest holiday centering on commitment to family and community, and Kwanzaafest is keeping it alive and well. Montell Jordan, Alicia Keys and Marques Houston headline the entertainment, which tilts to old-school, R&B and gospel. There'll be a health-fest breakfast, an auto show, African artifacts, vendors and an essay contest for the kids centered on the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, purpose, faith, self-determination and so forth. If those aren't enough to transport you into the holiday mood, K104 FM will be on hand giving away a pretty nice '04 Hummer H2. It's 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday in the Fair Park Automobile Building. --Thomas Korosec

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