PANAMA CITY — The spectacle of Oaks by the Bay’s Christmas Village was formalized with the annual lighting of St. Andrews’ Christmas tree Tuesday evening.
But that’s not all St. Andrews has to offer this holiday season. In conjunction with the Christmas tree lighting, the Dickens Christmas Village display held its own annual lighting in the Panama City Publishing Museum and Visitor’s Center.
To look down on the buildings — some with figurines dancing inside by the firelight, some with illuminated windmills, and others with smoking chimneys, all detailed down to the individual shape of the windows — in the dark is awe-inspiring, according to Barbara Sarber.
“Seeing the magic of it at night is really important,” said Sarber, the owner of the display. “It is like a small Victorian England city at night.”
Sarber and Marilyn Agee worked diligently during November to design and construct a Victorian England Dickens village. More than 200 building make up the roughly 10- by-12-foot miniature village — not counting the clock towers, figurines, windmill, ships and lighthouses.
“It started when [Agee] told me about Dickens villages and gave me one for Christmas,” Sarber said. “I loved them and my husband did also. We figured you can’t have a village with just two or three.”
So, Sarber began what would become a collection of about six other villages, the Dickens-themed being the largest. The display took Agee and Sarber a month to set up the 11 different areas within the village, including London Landmarks, Middle Class Houses and Inns and A Christmas Carol.
“In that section, there is a man reading from ‘A Christmas Carol’ before a group of people,” Agee said. “Because many people couldn’t read then … this gentleman is reading to the group.”
Behind the man is the “Cratchits’ home,” according to Sarber.
“Whenever we see smoke coming from the chimney, we would say ‘the Cratchits are home,’ ” she said.
With a plethora of pieces to choose from, Sarber could not choose a favorite, but one section holds personal meaning.
“It depends on which one I’m looking at the moment,” Sarber said. “I particularly like the St. Andrews Christmas Bay section because we live on St. Andrew Bay. That is why it is toward the front of the display.”
The Publishing Museum is open Monday through Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sarber encourages people to come during the week to see the display in the light and for an open house Dec. 14 from 4 to 8 p.m. to experience it in the dark.
“We feel fortunate the museum has allowed us to set it up and take up all this space,” Sarber said. “It speaks very highly of the area.”
Several Christmas events are scheduled throughout the weekend. Here is a list of some highlights. (A complete list can be found at panamacity.com.)
- 1-5 p.m.: Dickens Christmas Village at the Panama City Publishing Museum
- 5:30 p.m.: Lighting of the Christmas Tree at Oaks by the Bay Park
- 6-10 p.m.: A Bay County Christmas at the Boardwalk Beach Resort — A Christmas party with a live DJ, dancing, food, cocktails and fun, benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bay County. Admission is $25 per person (with a limited number of tickets available).
- 7:30 p.m.: Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some) at the Seaside Repertory Theatre Thursday through Saturday.
- 9:30 a.m.: 12th Annual Millville Community Children’s Christmas Parade
- 5-9 p.m.: A Dickens of a Christmas — Three festive nights of family fun to celebrate the Christmas season, the first three Fridays of December. Activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, free ice skating, carolers, concerts, extended shopping hours, kids’ activities and more. The kids’ activities will include a miniature horse and buggy ride, two train rides and bounce houses.
- 7 a.m.: JL 5K Reindeer Race and 1 mile Santa Shuffle at St. Andrews State Park
- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Christmas Bizaar at Noah’s Ark Christian Retreat — Shop for hand-painted ornaments, pine needle baskets, walking sticks, framed art, jewelry, leather crafts and more. Proceeds benefit Food4Kidz.
- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Winter Wonderland at Sharon Sheffield Park in Lynn Haven — An arts, crafts and holiday shopping show with vendors, live entertainment and a children’s petting zoo.
- 10 a.m.: Watercolor Christmas at St. Andrews Marina — Children watercolor a holiday scene with notable artist Grace Varley to take home with them.Cost: $10, includes all supplies.
- 12 to 4 p.m.: Safe for the Holidays at John Lee Nissan-Mazda, 120 E. 23rd St., Panama City — Children and pets can be photographed with Santa Claus for $10; fingerprinting of children by the Bay County Sherriff’s Office; $10 pet microchipping by the Humane Society, as well as refreshments, safety demos from area first responders, adoptable pets and a blood drive.
- 5 p.m.: Panama City Beach Christmas Parade at Pier Park — Floats from businesses, schools, entertainment and community groups, individuals, marching bands and car clubs will travel throughout Pier Park and down the boardwalk to Front Beach Road.
- 7:30 p.m.: “The Classic Russian Nutcracker” at the Marina Civic Center — The Willis Ballet, in conjunction with the Harmonic Motion Ballet Theatre of Rockwall, Texas, will present the annual production including artists from the St. Petersburg (Russia) Classic Ballet Theatre in featured roles.