St. Charles Celebrates Christmas With Traditions
New festival director promises old-fashioned fun.
Everyone who celebrates Christmas has their own traditions. For the city of St. Charles, those traditions are pretty elaborate.
Santa parades, dinner theater, ice skating, train displays and more are all part of the fun at the Christmas Traditions festival, a holiday happening that's been a seasonal staple on Main Street since the 1970s. It started the day after Thanksgiving and goes until Dec. 26.
The event has a new managing director this year, Melissa Byers. But don't expect any drastic changes, she said. It is tradition, after all.
"People will find it's pretty much the same festival experience that they've experienced in the past, just with smaller little nuances," Byers said. "We're keeping it very much period appropriate. We really strive to make sure it's still that same pre-1900 feel to everything."
Byers replaced previous director Randall Kopchak.
"Randall's wife had a baby this year and couldn't deal with it full time," said Carol Felzien, communications manager for the Saint Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau. "They're still working behind the scenes."
One popular event at the festival is the Santa Parade, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at 1000 South Main.
"This year we're expanding the parade," Byers said. "We're having some of the local Girl Scouts dressed as little elves and they'll be carrying streamers throughout the parade."
The parade ends at Berthold Square, 200 South Main, where the Christmas Traditions cast puts on a short skit.
"Mrs. Claus has lost her magic cookbook and must come up with a new recipe," Byers said. "We write all of our own scripts."
While strolling and shopping along Main Street during the festival, visitors are greeted by more than 20 different costumed holiday characters including the cast from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and eight Santas from around the world. Children collect character cards from such noted celebrities as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Scrooge and Father Christmas.
Four caroling troupes provide musical entertainment while kettle corn and roasted chestnuts are on sale.
This year's holiday dinner theater production is You'll Shoot Your Eye Out. The interactive show takes place at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 12 and 19 at the Mother-In-Law House on South Main Street. Tickets cost $62.50 and reservations are required.
The show is a parody of A Christmas Story, the popular movie about a boy who wants a Red Ryder Air Rifle for Christmas.
"It's hysterical and it's very participatory," Byers said. "The audience will be able to throw some lines in. We have three actors, one plays little Ralphie, one plays adult Ralphie and one person plays all the other roles. It captures all the really funny bits and puts a twist on them."
Other highlights of Christmas Traditions include:
- Skate in the Park: For the second year an ice skating rink will be set up in Frontier Park on the Missouri riverfront. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for children younger than 12. Skate rental is $6 or you may bring your own.
- Santa's Train Land: Holiday train displays run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays in the 200 block of North Main.
- A Candlelight Procession, featuring the Cobblestone Wassailers, will run from 8:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays beginning at the 900 block of South Main and ending at Berthold Square.
- Pictures with Santa will be available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays on the lower level of the St. Charles Visitors Center.
- The city's Christmas Tree will be on display at Berthold Square while the Kissing Ball will be set up in the Kister Park Gazebo.