Holiday spirit abounds at PRCC’s 5th Annual Wildcat Wonderland

Published 12:14 pm Saturday, November 20, 2021

By Laura O’Neill

Picayune Item

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The holiday spirit was free flowing at Pearl River Community College Thursday night as an estimated crowd of more than 4,000 community members filled the Poplarville campus for the fifth annual Wildcat Wonderland. Many ended the evening of festivities by attending the PRCC Extraordinary Holiday Playlist concert in the Brownstone Center.

WILDCAT WONDERLAND

Children, adults, and a small menagerie of animals came together for a fun filled evening on the campus. All activities were free.

Many beloved characters were present including Elsa and Olaf, Snoopy, Minnie and Mickey Mouse, and The Grinch. Santa and Mrs. Claus were also on hand for photo opportunities.

Along with decorations and lights, there was a live Nativity with students from the PRCC Baptist Student Union filling the familiar roles. And, behind them was a favorite stop: a petting zoo that included a camel, a pen of small animals and ponies for children to experience a guided promenade around Centennial Green.

The town of Who-Ville was quite popular with the children. Sensory play tables near the colorful wooden cutouts entertained toddlers and preschoolers while older children made Grinch-approved slime with the STEM Club students. Cosmetology students were on hand in the gazebo to help attendees become more festive with Who-Ville hair, makeup and holiday themed face painting.

Thousands of children visited Mrs. Claus for the opportunity to decorate a sugar cookie and warm up with a cup of hot cocoa inside the cafeteria. Also, inside Crosby Hall were crafting stations along with more festive displays.

After visiting photo opportunity spots including Elf, a festive green screen and a fireside scene, attendees could play reindeer games, grab a bag of reindeer food to feed Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve, and even guess the number of chocolates in a large jar. Several families paid a visit to the PRCC Museum to learn more about the school and get a break from the cooler weather.

The ever-popular train ride transported guests on a special light-filled ride around campus. Nearby, “The Polar Express” was playing at the stadium.

Many children took time for a visit with Santa Claus in the Brownstone. Santa had Miss PRCC, Hannah Smith, serving as his special helper for the evening. 

The evening also included an opportunity for community members to give back through a food drive for The Market and Backpack Buddies of Poplarville. PRCC’s Faculty Staff Association also joined the great cause, holding a donation drive in front of Ramey’s. Several staff members from Pearl River County Hospital & Nursing Home were conducting a toy drive as well.

Photos from Wildcat Wonderland are available for free by visiting PRCC’s Facebook page: Facebook.com/PRCCMKTG.

PRCC’S EXTRAORDINARY HOLIDAY PLAYLIST

With a nod to the popular television show “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” students and a few faculty members presented a music filled production telling the story of Merry who does not have Christmas spirit. The performances featured The String of Pearls, PRCC Singers, The Voices, and Jazz Cats. 

The audience met Merry as she left a holiday concert with jazzy dancing and music. As she unknowingly sat down next to Santa on a bench, she started to hear heart songs from people she encountered. The songs included “Blue Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

Each of those heart songs touched her so that by the time her friends roped her into attending a Christmas party her Christmas spirit had returned. They then went to a Vespers service where another friend was singing. With her heart full, Merry’s evening with friends ended with an invitation to spend Christmas with a friend’s family. On her way home, she bumped into Santa again and learned that he used some Christmas magic to let her hear the heart songs of others to heal her own heart.

MORE HOLIDAY FUN

The Nutcracker will follow with three performances by the South Mississippi Ballet Theatre on Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and then Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 for balcony and $22 for orchestra seating.