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Christmas Traditions Brings New Attractions Along with Classic Events

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2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the City of St. Charles’ Christmas Traditions festival hosted in the Historic District. Over the last four decades, the festival has become a tradition not only for local residents, but for families around the globe.

“To me it’s a real opportunity for community,” said City of St. Charles Director of Communications Carol Felzien. “It brings people together and gets them in the mood for the holidays.”

This year, among the traditional characters walking up and down Main Street, the city has more events to add. Dec. 13 and 14, along with Dec. 20 and 21, from 3 to 5 p.m., live reindeer will be at the Colonnade, situated between the Quintessential and R.T. Weilers. The handler, otherwise known as the “Reindeer Flight Instructor,” plans on telling fun, humourous stories about her four-legged friends.

Along with the traditional card collecting, where the “Legends of Christmas” hand out specialized cards detailing their character, The Great Ornament Hunt is debuting. Spread around by the Legends, 40 hand-painted, wood ornaments hang all around the Historic District for festival-goers to scavenge out.

“I love Christmas Traditions because it’s family friendly,” said sophomore Alyssa Stinson. “All of the characters are so much fun.”

The Legends of Christmas refers to the characters which can be seen walking–in some cases frolicking–along Main Street. The characters can be seen in the Santa Parade, held every Saturday and Sunday, starting from the corner of Boone’s Lick and Main Street, progressing their way to Berthold Square, the park adjacent to Lewis and Clark’s Restaurant. Some are old, jolly Santa Claus’, while others are young, witty Jack Frost’s. The characters participate in short skits to entertain the crowds, while carolers engage with visitors with traditional Christmas music.

“We have a lot of dramas now that have developed over the years,” said Felzien. “The people that run the festival on behalf of the tourism division are very talented in the world of theatre and the arts.”

Christmas Traditions has become a part of many families way to kick off the holidays. Visitors from all over the country come to enjoy the nostalgic, old-world feel of Main Street according to Felzien. Watching the Santa Parade one opening day, she struck up a conversation with a lady from Washington D.C.

“[She] said, ‘I’m from Washington D.C., but I come to this opening parade every year’,” recalls Felzien. “‘I feel that if I don’t come to St. Charles, the holidays just aren’t the same.’”

And who could blame her? Main Street is decorated by the City of St. Charles which reports that approximately 10,000 feet of fresh greenery is used, along with 1,200 hand-tied red velvet bows. The amount of lights that are hung in the Historic District is unknown, but Felzien says that number reaches into the thousands. Shops line the streets, attracting visitors inside with attractive window displays. Food items are being sold faster than any other time of the year, forcing store owners and employees to stay into the late hours of the night making new batches of product for the next day.

“I enjoy the atmosphere,” said junior Lauren Wood. “Everyone is enjoying themselves and the lights are absolutely beautiful.”

Visitors who are down on Main Street shopping or dining can also opt for a carriage ride. After climbing on, riders are bundled up into blankets, and slowly taken around downtown.

“I enjoy being on Main Street, seeing all of the Christmas decorations and feeling the cold, brisk air hit my face,” said Physical Education and Drivers Ed Instructor Eric Eubank.

More information on all of the events, shops and restaurants featured in Christmas Traditions can be found at the Tourism Bureau, located at 230 South Main Street or by clicking here.

“Main Street is all about things that are very neat and eclectic,” said Felzien. “No matter what you’re looking for, there is always something for everyone. It’s a great atmosphere to be in.”