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Bluffs kicking off Christmas Saturday
By BETH ZUMWALT
Santa Claus will make his first appearance of the season Saturday Nov. 27 in Bluffs.
The jolly, old, elf will take up residence in his new Santa House He should arrive at 6 p.m. courtesy of the Bluffs Fire Department.
During the evening, the Christmas lights will be turned on and Santa will hand out candy and gifts from his residence in the park.
Several vendors have signed up for the event. So far, goods available include;Hot cocoa and cider, Christmas ornaments, candy canes, crafts, cake pops, fried Oreos, chocolate pretzels, chocolate pretzels and lots more!
According to Linda Sapp, village president, everyone is welcome to attend.
Winchester’s 7th Annual Hometown Christmas promises a day full of Christmas cheer
By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
Winchester’s 7th Annual Hometown Christmas is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 – with activities scheduled from 9 a.m. into the evening.
Community leaders, including Winchester Mayor Rex McIntire and Winchester Civic Group President Kevin Evans, say that the annual holiday event plays an important part in supporting Winchester’s businesses during the Christmas shopping season.
According to McIntire, Hometown Christmas brings an influx of shoppers and visitors to the community to patronize local retail shops.
“I think it’s a very nice event,” McIntire said. “It brings a lot of people to town. It’s very good for business.”
Evans concurred with McIntire, stating that the event has economic ripples beyond the shops immediately around Winchester’s Douglas Square.
“It brings a lot of people to town for the event and for the weekend,” Evans said. “It benefits all of Winchester’s businesses and restaurants. It drives a lot more traffic to the businesses, and that’s always a positive thing.”
Of course, Winchester’s Hometown Christmas is about more than just shopping.
According to Hometown Christmas Committee Member Bobbi Jo Smith, the holiday event is rooted in a deep love for the community of Winchester and a nostalgia for Christmases of the past.
“It all started with a handful of women who wanted to make the holidays seem like they were when they were young,” Smith said. “It started with simply decorating some of the empty storefronts – and there were a lot of empty storefronts – and bringing in a few vendors.”
Smith said that she credits the founding of the Hometown Christmas event with encouraging many of the new businesses that have cropped up in downtown Winchester.
“I think this event helped start the whole thing,” Smith said. “It was so nice coming to town and seeing the stores all lit up. I think we had all just accepted the plight of the small rural town, but I think Hometown Christmas helped people decide maybe it doesn’t need to be this way.”
In the years since the original Hometown Christmas event, several new businesses have opened downtown, and the city has made a concerted effort to beautify the downtown area.
McIntire said Hometown Christmas helps highlight to visitors the revitalization efforts underway in Winchester.
“When all those people come to town, they see all the improvements we’ve made,” McIntire said.
Smith also said that Winchester Hometown Christmas – including the lighted Christmas parade, which is organized by Winchester High School’s Key Club – helps young people get involved in the community and feel a sense of local pride.
“The lighted parade is such an amazing climax to the event,” Smith said. “It’s amazing that the young people put so much work into making the event a success.”
At the end of the day, Winchester’s Hometown Christmas, according to Smith, is all about celebrating the Christmas spirit and building a more tight knit community.
“It gets everybody in the Christmas mood,” Smith said. “It’s just a good feeling. We love our town, and we love the holiday. That’s why we do it.”
Wincher’s 7th Annual Hometown Christmas schedule of events
■ Story Time with Mrs. Clause: 9 – 11a.m., Winchester Public Library
■ Cookie Walk: 9 a.m. – 12p.m., First Christian Church
■ Vendors: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Various locations around town
■ Gift Wrapping Station: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., By local 4-H group
■ Gingerbread House Contest: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Old School Museum
■ Santa Drive Around: 1 – 1:45 p.m., Check route on Hometown Christmas Facebook page
■ Lighted Parade: 6 p.m., Coordinated by Winchester High School Key Club
■ Memory Tree Ceremony: Directly after parade, Douglas Park