By Elijah Mangum
The Canton Christmas Festival has been a Christmas tradition for families across Mississippi for 35 years.
“We now have about four generations of families who have continued to come back with their kids and grandkids to continue the tradition of the Canton Christmas Festival with their holiday,” said May McCarty, Canton Tourism Executive Director. “We’re very proud of and happy to be a part of. Obviously, that speaks volumes as a testament of how strong the festival is after 35 years of this same event.”
The most famous element of the Festival is the 500,000 lights that adorn the square’s light displays. These displays depict everything from Nemo to Christmas trees and are popular spots for photo ops.
Kids could play games with Rudolph, meet Santa, a cast of characters and hear stories from Mrs. Claus.
“I will be reading to the children. Hopefully, my buddy elf will be here with me for a little while. The characters come to sing with me. So, it is a fun night in Canton on the square,” said Mrs. Claus.
This year, there were some new additions including a 18 foot walkthrough Gift box and a model train exhibit.
In addition to the carousel and other rides, horse drawn carriages, trains, and the Canton History Museum reopened for the first time since the Pandemic began.
The festival has always had a huge impact on local small businesses and organizations. One of these organizations is the Suicide Watch & Wellness Foundation’s Heads Up Community Help Center.
“Mississippi, when compared to the whole United States of America, ranks #3 when it comes to suicide,” said Misa Mck, Co-founder of SWWF and Host of “We Care MS”. Over the last two years due to Covid, it’s gone over 97% amongst teenagers in Mississippi. We are here in Canton, because Canton is a very small community. It is a community with some impoverished areas, and is in need of being uplifted.”
The Festival opened on November 25 and closed on December 21.