Santa and cider, caroling and Christmas shopping and lots of color and light will ring in the holiday season this Friday and Saturday when Glen Rose kicks off its annual Christmas celebration.

The festivities begin Friday evening when Spirit Wind Church performs favorite carols at 5:30 p.m.

Then Glen Rose's 2010 "Citizen of the Year," John Hawkins, who resembles a young, thin Santa, lights the community Christmas tree on the courthouse square at 6 p.m.

Afterward, the Glen Rose/Somervell County Chamber of Commerce will open its Up Against the Wall Theater on the white wall of the chamber building and show the holiday comedy "Elf" starring Will Ferrell, James Caan and Bob Newhart. Wear warm clothes. The chamber will provide hot cider.

On Saturday, Somervell County residents are invited to the annual free admission day at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Visitors can get in free with proof of county residency or employment in the county and five non-perishable food items or a unwrapped toy.

While at Fossil Rim, check out the grand reopening of the Children's Animal Center from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. And don't forget to visit the gift shop, one of the best around for unusual gifts.

If you're downtown Saturday morning, you can have pancakes with Santa from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Somervell Citizens Center, sponsored by the local American Legion. Buy tickets at the chamber or at the door.

Take your holiday shopping list to Glen Rose's First Saturday Market Days on the square from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Darrell Best, the chamber's chairman, said vendors will be selling everything from candles to Christmas décor, as well as gift items such as jewelry and home accessories. And, of course, the shops on the square will be open with colorful holiday displays and sales. To become a vendor, call 897-2286 or contact grcc@glenrosechamber.com.

The chamber also is sponsoring a toy drive. Bring an unwrapped toy to the "Green Carpet" next to the chamber.

A holiday beauty pageant follows in the afternoon at 3 p.m. at the former Rummage Around space on Barnard Street.

Then at 4 p.m. it's time for kids — or even adults — to get their pictures made with Santa by Kelly Hoodenpyle of Hill Country Photography, in the old courthouse until 6 p.m.

The grand finale on Saturday is the Christmas Parade of Lights, which starts at 6 p.m. An after-parade party follows at Heritage Park with cookies and hot cider with Santa at the pavilion, then a sneak peek at Christmas in the Park, the annual celebration at the park when the decorated historic buildings are opened for public view.

Start your Merry Christmas with a weekend of merrymaking. Happy Holidays!