The town is starting to get in the spirit of the holiday season while a couple of area high schools’ drama departments take to the stage. Here’s a look at what’s going on this weekend:
1. It’s the return of the Holiday Nights ’N Lights display in Ottumwa Park. This Christmas favorite opens to hikers from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday. The hike, hosted by the Wapello County Trails Council, is the one time each year the public can view the mile-long display outside a car. Hikers can begin from the back parking lot of Quincy Place Mall or through the underpass from the Central Addition Park for $5 admission, which supports trail development. Chili, cookies and hot chocolate will be available. Hikers should dress for the weather and, while luminaries will line the trail, they are encouraged to bring a flashlight.
Saturday is the official opening of the display. Hours for Saturdays and Sundays are 6-9:30 p.m. Those wishing to visit Sundays through Thursdays can do so from 6-8:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available at Elliott Oil locations in the region or can be purchased at the gate for an increased fee. For more information, contact the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce at 641-682-3465.
2. Join the Ottumwa High School Drama Department for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” this weekend. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the OHS auditorium. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. The show is directed by Kyle Roemerman with a cast featuring Alexis Cook, Rivers Maw, Bennett Rogers, Cole Denner, Brent Williams, Kilye Hucks, Lorna Bauer, Isaac Ford and Jonathan Francisco. For more information, contact OHS at 641-683-4444.
3. Santa’s live reindeer return to O’Hara Hardware this weekend in time for the star’s Christmas open house, which runs Friday through Sunday. The event also features their annual holiday display and a book signing with Leigh Michaels featuring her new book, “Welcome to Ottumwa 1896,” from 3-5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. For more information, visit the “O’Hara’s Christmas Open House” event page on Facebook.
4. “I Am, He Said: A Celebration of Neil Diamond” comes to Bridge View Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. This production, starring Matt Vee, celebrates the music of Diamond, who sold more than 100 million records and produced musical hits across five decades. He penned songs recorded by artists such as Elvis Presley and the Monkees and performed favorites such as “Song Sung Blue” and “Sweet Caroline.” For more information, contact BVC at 641-684-7000.
5. The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont High School drama department brings a blockbuster to the state with “Ghost the Musical.” Performance times are 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday with additional performances at 7 p.m. Nov. 21-22.The show will be held in the EBF Junior Senior High Cafetorium with doors opening an hour prior to the show. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. In addition, a basket auction and freewill donation will be held to support the drama program. For more information, visit the EBF Thespian Club page on Facebook.