By Sue Moore
Vicksburg’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will sponsor Christmas in the Village for a third year on Saturday, December 3 as a way to showcase the many stores, restaurants and event activities available to the community during the Christmas season. The event will be complete with strolling carolers from area churches.For many years the Vicksburg Community Association (VCA) had been sponsoring a parade and Santa visit for youngsters. Gradually, the Authority has picked this up and now takes responsibility for organizing the event. Last year the Authority changed the annual parade to early evening to highlight the beautiful lighting features on Main and Prairie Streets. It was such a success, with thousands crowding into the narrow streets to view the night parade, that the DDA decided to keep it as an evening event.
In order to top last year, the parade has been extended for two more village blocks and the Big Red Machine band will lead the parade and march back up Prairie Street to signal the tail end of the parade. The parade route will extend from the school’s Administration building on Kalamazoo Avenue, west on Prairie Street and south on Michigan Avenue, bypassing Main Street. Parking will not be allowed on Prairie Street during the parade. In between will be even more lighted floats and at least 11 fire engines with clever lighting designs required by the parade contest rules. The decorated fire engines will be on display for the public to inspect on S. Main Street following the parade.
Leading off the activities will be the annual Christmas Bake Sale at the Depot Museum at 300 N. Richardson Street, beginning at 10 a.m. Also on the grounds of the Historic Village, the miniature train will toot its way around the track in the old Township Hall for kids and adults alike to enjoy, and you can board the Holiday Express Boxcar and Caboose for a trip into the past. A horse-drawn wagon will be leaving from the Community Center to travel to the Historic Village so guests don’t have to walk the three blocks to get to all the activities.
All other events will be in downtown Vicksburg starting at 2 p.m. with the opening of the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market winter sale at 101 E. Prairie Street. The shops will all be open for visitors with either a craft or treat if marked with a Santa Workshop sign, as will the Community Center with activities for children from 2-5 p.m. Entertainment will be offered by Benjammin from 2 to 2:45, a holiday story time by Vicksburg Library staff is set from 2-3:45, followed by a magic show at 4 p.m. Kids can also make their letters to Santa by depositing them in a special mailbox all day.
The marquee event is the parade as darkness envelops the streets. It will begin at 5:30 p.m., with Santa and Mrs. Claus alighting from their coach to enter the Community Center after the parade. They will be on tap so all the little kiddies who want to get their Christmas wishes known to Santa will have an opportunity. At least 1,000 glow necklaces will be handed out to parade viewers to set the stage for the lighted parade to follow. In addition, 500 small teddy bears from the South County Fire Authority will be handed out.Across the way in Oswalt Park at 6:15, a tree lighting will take place, announced by host Rudy Callen with a lighting countdown. The parade float contest awards will be announced for winners of $300, $200, $100 respectively, and $300 for the best fire truck. Judges again this year will be State Senator Margaret O’Brien, County Treasurer Mary Balkema, and State Representative Brandt Iden. The local restaurants will all be open for dinner during the day and night with special holiday dishes offered on the menu.
Not to be outdone, the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center (VCAC) will offer holiday music at 7 p.m. by the Livingroom Musicians. The Holiday Hop takes place from 7-10 p.m. with a card to be stamped by the participating shops for a gift from the Dek, Distant Whistle, Main St. Pub and the Village Hide-A-Way.