Saint Nick will be checking his naughty or nice list this holiday season everywhere, including unexpected places in the Ozarks.
Look to the sky to see Santa providing rides in a 1956 Cessna 180. Rides begin Nov. 15 at The Hangar Kafe, 3103 Lawrence 1070 in Miller. Registration is preferred for the weekend rides and can be scheduled by calling 417-452-2277.
Another unusual place to see Saint Nick is in a fish-filled aquarium. Scuba Claus and Peppermint the Elf will dive while Mrs. Claus reads "The Night Before Fishmas." Times vary on Nov. 17 and 23 and Dec. 1, 7, 15 and 21 at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, 500 W. Sunshine St., Springfield. Reserve your tickets at https://wondersofwildlife.org/
Seeing Santa in downtown Springfield may not be unexpected but the events surrounding his visit will be awe-inspiring. They include a free holiday show featuring local performance groups and the Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. on Nov. 20. Patrons can also take selfies with Santa and enjoy free ice skating, hot chocolate, candy canes and copies of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Rides on the SGF Express Holiday Train and a horse-drawn carriage are also available at no cost.
Outside the city, the hills and hollows will set the stage for Branson Scenic Railways to pick up Santa at the “North Pole.” Along with Santa giving a gift to each passenger, "The Polar Express" is read aloud, hot chocolate and cookies are served and carolers sing. Dates are Nov. 5-Dec. 23. Branson Scenic Railway is at 206 E. Main St. in Branson. Purchase tickets at https://www.
More opportunities to see St. Nick are found all over the Ozarks, including the following:
- Nov. 6-Dec. 24, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, 1935 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield
- Nov. 6-Dec. 30, Silver Dollar City, 299 Silver Dollar City Parkway, Branson
- 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6, Branson Landing’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, 100 Branson Landing Blvd., Branson
- Nov. 18-Dec. 24, Battlefield Mall, 2825 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield
- 2 p.m. Nov. 20, Ozark Christmas Parade, East Church Street, Ozark
- 6 p.m. Dec. 3, Nixa Tree Lighting Ceremony, 701 N. Taylor Way, Nixa.
- 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade, 1600 University Ave., Bolivar
- 2 p.m. Dec. 5, 67th Nixa Christmas Parade, 701 N. Taylor Way, Nixa
- 2 p.m. Dec. 11, Downtown Springfield Christmas Parade, 134 Park Central Square, Springfield
- Big Cedar Lodge in Branson has a number of holiday activities planned, including visits from Santa for kids staying at the lodge, breakfast with Santa and more. Learn more at https://bigcedar.com/seasons/
For more information about these activities and other things to see and do in the Ozarks, call the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, a nonprofit destination marketing organization, at 800-678-8767 or visit www.SpringfieldMO.org.