It is Christmas evening and I am in my hometown of Champaign, Illinois. The day has been filled with opening presents that were left by Santa, eating so much at dinner that the only thing left to do is take a nap, and be thankful for the reason of the day, the birth of Christ Jesus. As I sit here fighting sleep, I can't help but to think back to a few months ago when I wasn't feeling quite in the holiday spirit. Oh I love Christmas, but for some reason, this year I was heading into the "Bah Humbug" stage, that is until The Traveling Eye was invited to Branson, Missouri.
Branson, Missouri, in my opinion, is the Christmas Capital of the World. From the time you fly into the small but quaint airport to the time you leave it is, 'Christmas, Christmas Everywhere'.
We were in Branson to broadcast our radio show for AM1690 WVON and our Sirrius/XM show on HUR Voices channel 141, so our first stop was Silver Dollar City theme park to check out the location for our Friday show. My spirits began to lift when I saw all the families streaming through the gates, break into smiles and kids squeal with delight, when they spied the huge Christmas wreath welcoming them to Silver Dollar City. There were grandparents returning with their children who were now parents introducing their children to the wonderment of spending Christmas at the theme park.
When visiting Silver Dollar City be prepared to spend the entire day and evening. The park is on acres and acres of land, has thrilling rides for children and adults, and wonderful theatrical productions. Master Craftsman are on site making their wares and conducting demonstrations, and there is a beautiful light parade that weaves through the entire park. There are lots of food vendors and restaurants with good food to fill hungry tummys.
The main attraction is the 5 story special effects tree that is dressed in one million lights. In fact, every square inch of Silver Dollar City is covered in colorful, cascading, dripping, twinkle lights. Yes, the magic of Branson was working. I was getting that warm fuzzy holiday feeling. I felt as if I was taking my own Scrooge journey and had just experienced a visit from the ghost of Christmas Past.
The next stop on my Christmas awakening journey was to the Branson Belle Showboat for a dinner theater cruise. Okay, we have all been on one of those dinner cruises where the entertainment is just so so and the food is less than desirable. Well you can pack those memories up and throw them in the lake. The Branson Belle Showboat is an awesome vessel that offers a smooth ride, unique and exciting entertainment, and the food is incredible. In fact, the Traveling Eye videographer, Howard Little, has declared the carmel cheesecake, "the best cheesecake I have ever had." I have to agree with him. Yep, I'm smiling and feeling some Christmas cheer coming on!
The Sight and Sound Theater was our next stop. The 2000 seat theater is the largest faith based live theater in the country. We were doing our Saturday Sirrius/XM show from the lobby of the theater. As we drove up to the entrance I was overwhelmed by the size of the building and how majestic it appeared, while at the same time, tranquil and peaceful. The lobby was just as warm and beautiful. It was the perfect place to do our show. Our guest for the show were the world famous singing group, The Platters, and. the one and only Chubby Checker! We had a great time speaking with each of them and experiencing Branson through their eyes. It was an exciting show, in a beautiful venue, with great guests, what more could we ask for. I was now engrossed in the feeling of Christmas.
Silver Dollar City, the Branson Belle Showboat, and the Sight and Sound Theater, as well all the other attractions and shows, are all good reasons to visit Branson, Missouri, but if I must give you one reason to visit this city high in the Ozark mountains, I would have to say, it's the people. Everywhere we went people smiled, were polite, and helpful, and greeted us with a cheerful, 'Good Morning" or "Merry Christmas". They had a way of making us feel as if, even though we were a tourist, Branson was where we belonged. I had finally given over completly to the Spirit of Christmas.
So tonight as I sit here with my stomach full, in the midst of family and friends, I am truly grateful for the gift of Branson, Missouri.
Bare with me for it must be said, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!"
Until next time, keep your EYE to the sky and join us on another Traveling Eye Adventure!
Filed under: Uncategorized