Holiday Walk in the Woods schedule

Special to the Villager


The Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center s partnering with the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center and the Auburn Area Community Theater to present A Holiday Walk in the Woods. Tours will take place on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and 5 to 7 p.m.

The community is invited to join walking small-group tours through the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center’s piney winter woods. Enjoy performances of family-friendly songs at stations along the trail that highlight diverse traditions and cultures.

Each year, the JDCAC partners with the Auburn Arts Association to host many in-person holiday events as part of its mission to provide the community with immersive art experiences. 

"For the safety of the community and staff, we are providing many opportunities this year for art education to take place safely in the home," said Emillie Dombrowski, art education specialist, in a news release. "We recently supplied take home art kits for our Harvest Farmers Market, and we will provide over 300 children’s take-home Holiday Art Kits for the Holiday Walk in the Woods. We encourage all families to take part in this event."

Tickets are $5 for ages 5 and up. Tickets and more details are available at or by calling 334-246-1084. 

All visitors and staff must adhere to the current CDC social distancing and personal protective equipment guidelines. Masks must be worn at all times while attending the festival. For more information regarding the Holiday Art Kits please contact Emillie Dombrowski, City of Auburn art education specialist, at

Here's a closer look at some of this year's performers:

Larry Wells ­— Larry is a beloved Band Director at Central High and dedicated AACT Dad who pulled together this ensemble just because they love to make music and hang out together. His wife and son are working as tour guides too.

Darden Family — Julian and his daughters, Alaysia and MacKenzie love recreating songs together, like the unique version of the Twelve Days of Christmas they’ll share today. Julian is a studying audio production and works as a manager at Chipotle. 

Noemi (No-amy) deSilva — Originally from Puerto Rico, Noemi has resided in Auburn since 2013. She’s a classically trained opera singer who has performed extensively in the South East. Noemi has two small children and is currently a PhD student at Auburn University. 

Bob Parsons — Bob is originally from Australia but fully committed to his adopted home, serving as an Auburn City Councilman. He has a collection of funny kids and pets and a creative wife that he loves to video and clown around with, especially while staying at home this year.  He used to be a professional puppeteer but now works as a fire inspector for the city of Opelika. 

Brandon Stephens — Brandon is an AU senior in Industrial Design and Marketing, but also loves singing. He performs with the AU Chamber Choir and local churches. He volunteers with the Auburn Arts Association.

David Carter — David is a history professor at Auburn, but has performed with AACT and served on its board for many years.  This summer he sang in our Walk in the Woods, and prior to that was on stage in Spamalot. He loves Christmas music and has a huge collection, so it was hard for him to pick out just one song to perform. 

Joe Toles — Joe Toles joins us by way of New York, but most recently has come from the AACT stage last weekend in A Christmas Carol.  An Auburn graduate ’82, Joe moved his family to the plains to “evolve” after retirement.  The single father of 8 adoptive sons, Joe has plans to expand his family one more time just in time for the holiday season.   Joe has spent his time in Auburn creating content for the internet including a seven-show series for The Dad.  Joe is excited as they are in talks about a season two. He has a mission to create something positive at least once a month as a gift to mankind.  He has just self-published a Christmas book titled The Spirit of Christmas, which he is reading for this event and can be found at, as well as being for sale at the end of the trail. All of his content can be found on his YouTube channel.

Jake Evans — Jake was last seen on the AACT stage years ago as Mr. TV in Willy Wonka, but now he’s a dual engineering and performance piano major at Auburn. He loves any opportunity to play and recently set the mood with his jazz trio at the Holiday Art Sale in Kiesel Park. 

Kayla Turochy –— Kayla is a 20 year-old artist from Auburn AL. She enjoys singng dancing and acting and has participated in many local productions, including High School Musical at New Horizons Theatre and a recurring role with East Alabama Community Ballet’s Nutcracker. She is also an active member of the leadership team at the Fifty Fund, a local non-profit. Her favorite part of Christmas is the act of giving to others and the smell of the fireplace. 

Jessica Connelly — Jessica started her stage career in community theatre at just 5 years old, and has since performed all around the area at AHS, New Horizons and AACT. She’s currently a musical theatre major at Coastal Carolina University and is enjoying taking care of her family’s new puppy. Fun fact – Jessica and Jake used to be in a band together called Shift. 

Emma Dansak — Emma teachers string instrument lessons at Spicer’s Music and has brought some of her students along to play with her. They include: Emily Young, Ellie Carlson, Lucy Brady, and Sherrie Brady.

Charlotte Hendrix — Charlotte has performed w ComedySportz an “actlete” and trained with Washington Improv Theatre.  She works at the Jule Collins Smith Museum by day and is a creative talented contributor to AACT by night- here in the Preserve last summer, and most recently onstage in Guacamole Queens and Spamalot.

Margarita Matsotskaya –—Margarita is originally from Russia and will be singing a popular traditional song about a Christmas tree growing up in the forest. She keeps busy with her 3 small children, but also plays violin with the Auburn Community Orchestra. 

AuburNext — A Muslim youth service group of children in Grade 1-7, AuburnNext  has been involved in many projects around the area. During these past few months they have written cards to residents at nursing home, collected food for the food bank, and worked at the Humane Society animal shelter. They’ll be sharing with us about their biggest holidays and how they celebrate. 

Lillian and Belinda Worley — This mother -daughter team were last involved with AACT during HairSpray. They love to sing together. 

Rachel Pair –—Rachel is an AU graduate of the musical theatre program. She currently works as a voice teacher at Spicer’s Music and last spring served as musical director for AACT’s production of High School Musical Jr, and sang in our summer Walk in the Woods.

Susan Youngblood — Susan serves as the co-president of Auburn’s Beth Shalom Congregation. She often leads music there and in her “spare” time is a faculty member of AU’s English Department. 

AHS Vocal Jazz —This quartet from Auburn High is part of the larger acapella performance group, Vocal Jazz. McKinley Newsome, Kaitlin Powell, Rusty McKinnel and Colt Bass also sing and dance as part of AHS Varsity, the award-winning showchoir. Their medley of Christmas songs was arranged by their director Eron Smith.

The event is co-hosted by AACT and Kreher Preserve and Nature Center, which issued thanks for the following: free art kits from the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center; donations toward nonprofit group tickets and decorations from MidSouth Bank and Auburn Reprographics; treat donations from Well Red Books, McAlister’s Deli, Cottage Baker, Helga Geyling and Cindy Davino; Covid Kits from the LC Boys and Girls Club on Saturday morning ; loans of decorations from Kathy Gregory and the Fifty Fund, the Radford Family, John Kush, the Armiger Family and the Dempsey Arts Center. 

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