'Tis the month before Christmas and all along the Shore, the towns aren't sleeping -- celebrations are in store.
Towns -- from Berlin to Bethany Beach, Del. -- have planned a December filled with holiday events for residents and visitors alike.
Take a carriage ride back to the 19th century. Bring your great expectations to a Dickens' dinner or Victorian tea. Leave the malls behind and do your Christmas shopping in specialty shops that cater in hospitality.
Santa will be here, too, and children can spot the jolly fellow (and maybe even an elf or two) enjoying hot cocoa and warm cookies with the rest of the area visitors at parades, hotels and local establishments.
From the inlet to the Delaware line, Ocean City sparkles with decorations and glows with the lights of the season. Throughout the month of December, the community shows its visitors the joys of spending "Christmas in a Summer Place." Here are some of the events that will take place in the next few weeks:
The Parade of Trees boasts some of the prettiest bells, bows and lights in town. Thirty-five to 40 Christmas trees decorated by local businesses and organizations will create a winter wonderland along the beach at the inlet parking lot. The trees may be viewed Dec. 7 through Jan. 1. For more information, call the O.C. Chamber of Commerce at (410) 289-8559.
Anyone who loves a parade won't want to miss the Ocean City Christmas Parade Saturday. The procession will leave from the municipal parking lot at 99th Street at 11 a.m. and then travels to the Gold Coast Mall at 115th Street. Activities are planned inside the mall following the parade.
Sing your way into the season at the Gatlin Brothers Country Christmas Concert in the Convention Hall at 40th Street and bayside. The trio will perform traditional and original holiday songs with their sister LaDonna Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17.50 for adults and $14.50 for children 14 and under. For ticket information, call (410) 289-8314 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Experience Christmas on the Beach, complete with carolers dressed in their Victorian finest, horse-drawn hay wagon rides and a chance to visit Santa in his very own house on the boardwalk. The mayor and City Council will begin decorating the official Ocean City Christmas tree, and residents and visitors are invited to bring an ornament to hang on the tree. This free event will take place Dec. 14 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the inlet beach and parking lot.
Celebrate Christmas at the Carousel Hotel and Resort at 118th Street and oceanside by participating in one or several of their holiday activities. Skate on the indoor ice rink, sing along with the Wills Family Musical Review, or experience La Maison de la Dance, a troupe from Washington.
Children and adults alike will enjoy eating breakfast with Santa or attending a Parker Playhouse Production of "The Musical Bear." For a complete lists of activities and times, call the hotel at (800) 641-0011.
The Dickens Christmas at Philips Beach Plaza Hotel could even put a scrooge in the yuletide spirit. In the lobby, animated displays complete with flying angels take visitors back to Victorian times until Dec. 31. Eggnog and cookies will be provided by the hotel, at 13th Street and the ocean. For more information, call (410) 289-9121.
The Dunes Manor Hotel wishes visitors a Merry Christmas with a month of holiday activities. Choirs, choruses and local musicians will provide festive holiday music while Santa ho-ho-hopes you'll stop by for breakfast or sit on his lap for a free photo. Victorian decorations, a toy train garden, winter wonderland scene, and trees with all the trimmings adorn the hotel lobby. For more information, contact the hotel at (410) 289-1100.
The Art League of Ocean City presents its annual Member's Holiday Exhibit featuring works crafted by members at the Art League Building near 94th Street. The exhibit can be viewed from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays from Thursday until Jan. 3. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. Friday. For more information, call (410) 524-9433.
The town -- only a short ride from Ocean City -- decks its halls with the sights, colors and flavors of a Victorian Christmas and will hold the following yuletide events:
The "Dickens' Christmas" at the Atlantic Hotel Inn and Restaurant kicks off with a Victorian buffet, dinner and dancing at the hotel Tuesday. For reservations to this black-tie event, call (410) 641-3589.
Light up the town Thursday at Berlin's annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in front of the Atlantic Hotel at 6:30 p.m., followed by a parade with Santa.
Santa won't mind spending a few days in Berlin. Children are welcome to visit him at the Berlin Public Library Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or at the Atlantic Hotel from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Dec. 14 and 21 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.. Santa's arctic house and sleigh will be located in front of the Calvin B. Taylor Museum as well as a mailbox for wish lists.