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Editor’s Note: It’s not all garbage schedules and safety tips in this special holiday post. We’ve highlighted a few, fun holiday activities as well. The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau has a “Holiday Magic Coupon Sheet” available for various performances and activities around town. You can pick up a coupon sheet at the Visitor Center, located at 500 Church Street NW, or online at huntsville.org.

The Nutcracker can give you the nine ladies dancing. Somewhere in the Christmas parade, there will likely be 12 drummers drumming. We’re a little short on partridges and French hens, but we can at least give you 12 things you should know this holiday season involving the City of Huntsville.

1. Holiday Garbage Pick-Up Schedule

The City of Huntsville garbage schedule for Christmas week will be adjusted due to the holiday.

Both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Monday so garbage service will be delayed by a day. If you typically have a Monday pickup, it’ll be Tuesday those weeks, and so on.

Also, City Council meetings will be held on Dec. 7 and Dec. 21; the City Council usually meets on the second and fourth Thursdays each month.

2. Tinsel Trail

Tinsel Trail is adding a splash of color and light to Big Spring Park East through Jan. 3.

Some 300 uniquely decorated trees form the trail. They are sponsored by local organizations, businesses and families.

3. Huntsville Christmas Parade

The annual Huntsville Christmas Parade is on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. The parade begins at Lot K near the Von Braun Center, turns right at the VBC and wraps around Big Spring Park. It turns right on Clinton, then right on Greene Street, then to Franklin.

4. Joy of Giving

Better to give than receive, remember. The City of Huntsville employees have been generous to United Way in an annual Christmas partnership, but many have also been generous with time as volunteers to various groups. Countless organizations are out there who can use your financial and physical assistance.

To find an organization that serves causes you care about, visit the United Way website.

5. Remember your pets

Don’t forget to take care of your pets as the holidays arrive. Dr. Karen Sheppard, director of the City of Huntsville Animal Services, reminds that Christmas trees can be dangerous for young cats and dogs – whether it be the tinsel, electricity or the water for the tree. Some holiday plants can cause nausea in pets should they eat them.

On that subject, just because you’re eating elaborate meals, Sheppard recommends sticking with the pet’s usual diet rather than treating them with something more rich than usual.

“I always go back to the absolutely most important thing to do for your dog….that’s a personalized ID tag (phone number and address) on their collar,” Sheppard says. “And if you need a Christmas idea for your family pet? A microchip is a permanent and excellent back-up for that personalized tag. Microchips cost around $60 and last a lifetime.”

6. Galaxy of Lights

The annual Galaxy of Lights is underway at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, through Dec. 31. Gates are open from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. There are more than 200 displays along the route.

Tickets may be purchased at the Botanical Garden shop or in advance online.

7. Christmas Performances

There are myriad Christmas performances throughout December, from performances of “A Christmas Carol” at the Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater to “The Nutcracker,” performed by the Huntsville Ballet Company.

To keep a pulse on all of the Rocket City’s holiday events, check out these community events calendars:

8. Rocket City Marathon

The Rocket City Marathon, a highlight for runners from across the country for more than 40 years, is Saturday, Dec. 9. It’s hosted by the Huntsville Track Club.

The Special Operations Division of the Huntsville Police Department, which issues licenses for more than 280 special events a year, is heavily involved in traffic control for the race, with a route that stretches northeast past Five Points and all the way to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

“The biggest logistical challenge in manpower that we have is the Marathon,” says Sgt. Mark Shahan of HPD.

Parks & Recreation, especially through its special events team, Public Works, Green Team and other agencies are also involved in seeing that the marathon is a success.

9. Rocket City Classic

The Rocket City Classic brings The University of Alabama’s basketball team, ranked No. 24 in the latest Associated Press poll, to Huntsville for a Dec. 17 meeting with Mercer at the Von Braun Center’s Propst Arena.

The UAH Chargers will play Shorter at 5:15 in the preliminary game, followed by the Tide at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the VBC box office and through Ticketmaster.

10. Christmas Tree Disposal

The City of Huntsville will haul away used Christmas trees and other holiday plants as part of its typical yard waste pickup program. For the week after Christmas and that week only, the City will have “overflow forgiveness” and waive its size restrictions on yard waste.

Holiday wrappings and other such material should be bagged, as typical household waste.

Chris McNeese, director of the Department of Public Works, said his department will also pick up large boxes, such as those including TVs, as part of the yard waste program. The City requests the boxes are broken down; there’s a two-fold reason for that, McNeese said. One, it compacts better for the sanitation trucks and secondly, it avoids a prominent signal to would-be thieves who could learn what big “toys” you got for Christmas.

11. Seasonal Safety

Shoppers are reminded to be especially aware this holiday season. They should make sure to put all packages in a trunk or hidden area to discourages thieves and it is recommended that they walk in pairs or groups whenever possible in shopping area parking lots. It’s especially important to remember where you’re parked to avoid wandering around.

Lt. Jonathan Ware of the Huntsville Police Department said that there will be DUI checkpoints set up across the city throughout the month, so partyers should have a designated driver or look to take other transportation.

12. Fire safety

The biggest cause of house fires this time of the season is not brittle trees or fireplaces. It’s from cooking. It’s easy to wander off and be distracted with something on the stove.

Natural Christmas trees, if regularly watered, shouldn’t become dangerously dry, but it’s recommended that electric lights be turned off before bedtime or leaving the house.

Capt. Frank McKenzie of Huntsville Fire & Rescue said it’s important to check batteries in smoke detectors and homes should have carbon monoxide detectors installed if any burning is taking place inside.