Abundance of events on horizon
Western Nassau offers a full slate of holiday-themed events in the coming weeks.
Veterans Day on Monday provides opportunities leading up to the holiday to honor community members who serve or have served in the armed forces.
West Nassau High School’s JROTC Flight 955 cadets host the West Nassau Veterans Appreciation Dinner. It will be held in the school cafetorium Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.
“During the evening, all the high school cadets will be spread out through the cafeteria to mingle and eat with the veterans that sit at their assigned table,” said WNHS Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Col. Gregg Kline. “The evening will have food provided by the American Legion and the AFJROTC cadets.”
New this year, the cadets have collected veterans’ photographs that will run during a slideshow loop as guests eat dinner.
“The cadets will then honor the veterans with a patriotic video, a flag folding ceremony and will cap off the evening with the service flag march and the Iwo Jima presentation,” Kline said.
Also, the Town of Hilliard hosts its annual veterans appreciation ceremony and lunch Saturday at the C.W. Hilliard American Legion Post 401.
The Hilliard Middle-Senior High School Marching Band will perform patriotic music and post members will raise the U.S. flag. A memorabilia tent will also be onsite. Flags flown at the U.S. Capitol Building and the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee will be distributed to veterans present who represent the oldest, youngest and the most time in service. The Hilliard Volunteer Fire Department will serve food from Callahan Barbecue, with a commemorative sheet cake served for dessert. A bloodmobile will be onsite from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The veterans’ meet-and-greet and sign-in begin at 9 a.m. The post is located at 37405 Henry Smith Rd.
The Hobos, Hot Rods and Heroes Festival and Car Show return to the Callahan Depot Nov. 16 with family activities, live music and fun from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The annual event benefits the West Nassau Historical Society and its commitment to preserve the Callahan Depot. Callahan Cruisers of Northeast Florida and AB&B Auto Parts host a judged car and truck show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cochrane’s Collision Center. Military veterans in attendance will be recognized during an appreciation ceremony at 11 a.m.
The West Nassau Museum of History features an ongoing exhibit of Federal Aviation Administration radar equipment from the 1950s and 1960s. The Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center began operations in December 1941. Two decades later, Hilliard became home to a new JARTCC. The expanded exhibit now includes additional vintage photographs, artifacts and furniture from the 1960s.
“It’s a really good exhibit because it shows that there’s more to Nassau County than just the railroad and the timber industry,” said Emily Baumgartner, society president.
Society Board Director John Hendricks added that the FAA exhibit is out of the ordinary, saying, “It’s a little slice of history that a lot of people don’t know about.”
New this year, society members ask that local veterans submit photos and military service information for “The 2020 Project.” The goal is to include the items into the museum’s archives.
As Thanksgiving nears, area seniors will be served free holiday-themed meals. The Concerned Citizens of Hilliard hosts a meal Nov. 23 at the Nassau County Council on Aging Building in Hilliard from 10:30 a.m. to noon. First United Methodist Church of Callahan’s youth will serve seniors a Thanksgiving meal that same day from noon to 2 p.m. This is year marks the 39th year that church volunteers have served turkey, dressing and all the fixings to area seniors.
The Christmas season beckons with numerous celebrations planned.
The Town of Hilliard hosts its annual Christmas tree lighting Nov. 30. Participants are invited to assemble on the lawn of Life Care Center of Hilliard to enjoy refreshments, sing carols and take pictures with Santa Claus. The West Nassau Historical Society hosts its annual Christmas tree lighting Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.
The Town of Callahan and WNHS present the Callahan Christmas Parade Dec. 7.
It begins at 11 a.m. The WNHS Warrior Band Boosters will conduct the parade with the theme “The Music of Christmas.” Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper is grand marshal.
Before and after the parade, arts and craft vendor booths will be available at Thompson’s Mall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A portion of the proceeds benefit West Nassau High School’s Warrior services. The program assists with student vouchers, hosts “A Callahan Christmas” and other community outreach events, according to Leanne Ludvigsen.
“A Callahan Christmas” returns for a fourth year in the WNHS cafetorium Dec. 14.
The family-friendly event includes children’s activities, a visit with Santa Claus and vendor booths from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We created this event to thank the community,” Ludvigsen said.
Students from the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, Ludvigsen’s business classes and other groups organize the festivities.
National Honor Society and Beta Club members have a free gift shop available for children to select a gift for their parents. Theatre and band students will perform. Students from the CNA program, AVID, Student Council and Warriors for Christ will also assist with activities.
“The Big Red Bus bloodmobile will also be present to receive much needed donations for the upcoming holiday season,” she said. “And the Nassau County Humane Society will be onsite for pet adoptions.”
Also, the sights and sounds of Christmas will be on display during the St. George, Ga. Christmas Parade Dec. 14. The parade begins at 11 a.m.
Before the year’s end and back for a second year, view the “Out with a Boom Fireworks Spectacular” at WNHS’ football stadium Dec. 29. Gates open at 5 p.m. with fireworks around 7.
Callahan Mayor Marty Fontes underscored the value of the town’s planned happenings.
“The Callahan Christmas Parade, ‘A Callahan Christmas’ and ‘Out with a Boom Fireworks Spectacular’ are opportunities for the community to come together, to celebrate Callahan and display to others our great community,” he said.