As the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing turns into leftovers, there’s something new to look forward to — the holiday season.
This weekend, there will be a variety of events for people to ring in the season, from Christmas lightings to holiday shopping.
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Here’s what’s happening:
Holiday Park Lighting Ceremony
When and where: 6 p.m. Krug Park 3500 St. Joseph Ave.
Kicking the holiday festivities off, Krug Park will be first for some winter fun.
Being held in the drive by the lagoon, the lighting will have Mayor Bill McMurray and the city of St. Joseph staff give a short presentation. After that, kids will help the mayor transform Krug Park into Holiday Park with the flip of a switch at 6 p.m.
“One example of Uncommon Character is Holiday Park. People come from all around the region to go though Krug Park at Christmas,” Kristi Bailey, St. Joseph community branding leader, said in a previous interview. “Every St. Joe resident has a story about when they were kids going through Holiday Park.”
Holiday Park will be open until 10 p.m. on Friday and continue to be open through Jan. 1.
South Pole at Hyde Park
When and where: 7 p.m. 402 E. Hyde Park Ave.
After the event at Krug, McMurray will make his way to the South Side for Hyde Park’s annual lighting at 7 p.m.
“Anytime a child comes to see Santa Claus and lights up with a big smile, my heart is always swelling bigger, bigger and bigger. It’s great,” Harold Stewart, a longtime member of both the St. Joseph Optimist and Southside Progressive clubs, said in a previous interview.
People can stay to visit with Santa and walk around the park.
Downtown First presents Holidays Downtown Opening Weekend and Lighting Ceremony
When and where: 5 to 8 p.m. Coleman Hawkins Park at Felix Street Square
The annual tradition of the Downtown Christmas lights being turned on, along with carriage rides, cocoa and Santa, continues at Coleman Hawkins Park at Felix Street Square.
“We want people to be excited about Downtown, and if lighting up Downtown makes people feel like it’s more festive and it’s someplace they want to visit, why not do it?” Cris Coffman, president of Downtown First, which organizes the event, said in a previous interview.
The free carriage program operates on a first-come, first-served basis. It is free for everyone.
“We schedule times so people have time to go out and check out some of the other activities that we have happening around the Downtown,” Coffman said.
Downtown St. Joseph will be lit up in almost vintage fashion, a throwback to glory days of the area.
“What it was once was — the lights between the streets, the garland and all the beautiful pictures that we see, that’s what we’re aiming for ... It brings back a lot of memories ,” Coffman said.
While the kick-off event will be the grand ceremony, it won’t be the end of the festivities. “Holiday Alley,” located between Seventh and Eighth streets, will host carriage rides from 5 to 8 p.m. every Saturday from Nov. 30 through Dec. 21. Riders must have a voucher for spending at least $5 at a Downtown business or pay $5 fee for a family of up to six people.
There also will be holiday characters on hand, with Santa coming back from 2 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 and “The Winter Princess” (read between the lines on who that character might be) being available at the concession stand from 2 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 14. People can get their pictures taken with the characters. A photographer will be on site for photo purchases.
There will be prizes given away by Jingles The Holiday Elf. People will have to find Jingles, take a picture and use the hashtag #jinglesdowntown to be entered into the contests.
“There are things happening all over Downtown. It is a great time to come down and discover all that we have,” Coffman said.
Merry Memories: Holiday Window Tour When and where: Starts on Nov. 30, Downtown St. Joseph
The Christmas Tree Lighting will coincide with Small Business Saturday and local businesses will be celebrating in grand fashion with the annual holiday window tour.
Businesses throughout Downtown will be decorated in ornate, bombastic fashion, all for the love of the holidays and the desire to win the holiday tour contest.
People can tour Downtown, check out the participating businesses’ windows and either scan the QR code on a mobile phone or make note of its assigned number and vote at www.downtownfirst.org/vote.html.
Between all of these events, there is a ton of coordination and funding with various organizations, all so people can have some extra cheer during the holiday season.
“It’s been a huge group effort from the beginning, and we’re just excited to see it grow every single year,” Coffman said.
— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live