By Sue Moore
Everyone loves a parade. Vicksburg’s reconstituted evening Christmas parade should be a great change from the past years. It has been planned for 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, to highlight the beautiful lighting in the downtown, according to Ken Schippers, village manager. He expects over 10 floats and seven or eight fire engines from visiting towns. There will be cash prizes for the best floats with State Senator Margaret O’Brien, State Rep. Brandt Iden, and County Treasurer Mary Balkema as the judges.
Fortunately, the Big Red Machine, a.k.a. the Vicksburg High School marching band, will still be available to lead the parade down Kalamazoo Avenue to Prairie Street and south on Main Street, according to Band Director Ben Rosier. The promise to participate comes with a bit of a sacrifice: Most of the band members want to be getting ready for the high school Christmas formal once they lead the procession; it’s a good bet that many of the band members will beat a fast retreat to their own festivities.
But that shouldn’t deter the youngsters as they will want to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus inside the big tent in Oswalt Park on the corner of Main and Prairie Streets. It will be heated and those waiting in line with be treated to hot chocolate and cookies, compliments of Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene.
The Vicksburg Historical Society will be open for business with its annual bake sale at the Depot Museum from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The model train layout in the Historic Village will be open for train enthusiasts during the same hours as the bake sale, on December 5, plus the two Saturdays following in December.
All of the “Christmas in the Village” activities this year have been the responsibility of the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) under the leadership of Executive Director Kathleen Hoyle. Her committee of elves includes Stella Shearer, Ken Schippers, Julie Merrill, Mandy Kokalas, Carol LaFrance, Sue Moore, Chris Newman, and Ellie Folkers.
Lots of new and old activities have been planned for the day with vendors from the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market kicking off the events with a winter opening of the market. It will be held inside the community center from 2 to 5 p.m. Regular customers to the market will be able to refill their larders from some of their favorite vendors, including the soap maker, the root vegetable purveyors, and the apple and doughnut maker. There will be live greens for sale just outside the center.
Horse carriage rides around the downtown will launch from the north door of the community center every half hour. To keep the children entertained before the parade, BenJammin and Analisa will be performing from 3-3:45 p.m. in the center. There will be a magician, and most importantly, a mailbox for letters to Santa. Mrs. Claus’ Cookie Kitchen for children will be at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center at 200 S. Main, the library will have a children’s hour inside. Carolers from three Vicksburg area churches will be traveling the downtown during the afternoon with their special brand of Christmas music.
To top off the evening, the huge spruce tree in Oswalt Park will have a special lighting ceremony at about 6:15, with Rudy Callen doing the master of ceremony honors. Brian Pitts, Chamber of Commerce president, has organized a Pub Crawl after the tree lighting. Destinations will include the Hide-a-Way, Main Street Pub, and The Vault.
None of this would be possible without the tremendous outpouring of support from the event sponsors, Hoyle said. They include Frederick Construction, Ronningen Research, Bronson Hospital, Right Way Rental, Grossman Law, the Village of Vicksburg and the Chamber of Commerce.