Setting the holiday scene in St. Charles (Dec. 1)

November 27, 2007

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I received many great tips for this space; I haven’t even had time to read them all (suitcases to unpack, laundry to wash, a fridge to restock … ). One thing I noticed as I sorted through the first wave was that it’s entirely possible to spend a lot of money on events leading up to Christmas. Ten bucks here for tea with Santa, twenty bucks there for a holiday show. I’d personally really like to see the Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker after sneaking peeks at the kids practicing for it all fall over at COCA.

Given the reflexive spending that marks the season, it’s refreshing when a group gets together and mounts a free festival. I’m particularly impressed with what St. Charles is doing. For the next four Saturdays, from 11 a.m. on, South Main Street is populated with more than 20 Christmas characters from Tiny Tim to the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Santas from around the world are an especially nice touch, and following along the multicultural theme is a Las Posadas procession this coming Saturday (Dec. 1) at 6 p.m. It’s a hispanic tradition to act out the drama of Mary and Joseph looking for shelter in Bethlehem; in some towns the quest ends in a private home where the entire procession is welcomed. In St. Charles that’s a little impractical given that thousands are expected to join the luminary-lit journey — this one ends at Frontier Park with a re-enactment of the Christmas story and carols around a bonfire.

Even if you can’t make it to St. Charles, the city’s holiday homepage is worth a visit for its comprehensive links to traditional characters and customs. But there are so many free activities there on Saturdays — and the setting is just so quaintly perfect — that it’s really worth seeing.


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