Gingerbread Walk 2016

One of our favorite Downtown Belleville Christmas events is the Gingerbread Walk. I am always amazed by how creative people can be with food!

Of course, anything British is going to be a personal favorite:

There were several others that we thought were particularly special:

And when you see the purple “Best of Show” ribbon, you know you’re going to be looking at something special!

Every year, I say that next year, we should enter something, anything, in the contest…maybe 2017 will be that year!

Christmas Traditions 2016

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the Christmas season…the day where we drive out to St. Charles, MO, for the Christmas Traditions festival!

We started, as we do every year, with lunch. We haven’t eaten at Frankie Tocco’s since before Chickadee was born, so I figured we should go back there so she could experience that part of our family tradition. St. Louis style pizza isn’t my favorite, but Frankie Tocco’s makes it as good as it gets.

We then went through the Gingerbread Village…I really wish I could enter one of those contests someday!

For the last few years, we’ve seen most of the parade…this year, we saw the whole thing! I love seeing all of the different characters in costume, walking down the brick street, passing by all the gorgeous old buildings that are so much a part of St. Charles’ identity.

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And seeing the flags of the world carried by the different Santas is always fun:

We joined the end of the parade and went down to Frontier Park, where we enjoyed a good-natured red vs. green game show, led by La Befana and Babushka:

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After the parade and the character hoopla, we got down to work meeting characters and collecting cards. The children had their pictures taken with all our old favorites…the Frontier Santa, who looks like he stepped out of the pages of Little House on the Prairie, Santa Lucia, the Christmas Angel, and Bunny’s favorite, Jack Frost. He even let her hold his “BLUEkulele!”

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For the first time ever, I had my picture taken with a few characters, too. The Master of Revels has been my favorite since the first time Ryan and I sat down and watched him harass festival-goers over a decade ago(!!!), and like Bunny, I’m also a fan of Jack Frost, and his pal Susie Snowflake (the one character I will take credit for introducing to Christmas Traditions several years ago). I even had the right outfit to take a picture with the frosty duo!

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We managed to find 32 out of 48 characters, which is a lot, but not our best year by any stretch of the imagination. I may die of shock if we ever have a year where we collect every single card!

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I love walking up and down Main Street and seeing all the buildings and decorations!

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And I really love taking a picture of the children by the gazebo…I think this is one of the best photos yet!

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I’m a little sad that it isn’t even December yet, and our family’s favorite Christmas tradition has already come and gone, but we had an amazing afternoon in St. Charles, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival!

Christmas Traditions 2015

Last Sunday was one of the most anticipated days of the year for our family…the day we head west to St. Charles for the Christmas Traditions festival!

As we have for the last few years, we started at Llewelyn’s Pub for lunch:

We then stopped at the Gingerbread Village to see the creations and vote for our favorites (we even got to see the trophy this year!). I loved the Eiffel Tower, because it was both timely and beautiful.

We then saw the parade for only the second time ever…and this year, we even saw the whole thing!

I especially seeing all of the flags of the world:

Another first for us was seeing the cast skit, in the form of a game show. It was just as hilarious as you would expect!

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The main attraction is getting as many character cards as possible. We did pretty well this year, finding all but nine of the 42 characters!

My favorite is always the Master of Revels, so I was very glad we got to see him, and hear him give out all the wrong holiday greetings (Happy Arbor Day in November?!?):

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Another family favorite is Jack Frost…he always makes us laugh!

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And even though I’m normally anti-Santa, I really love the Frontier Santa, because he’s exactly how I pictured the character when reading Little House on the Prairie as a child:

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It’s always fun to see all of the decorations as you walk up and down Main Street:

We even saw a few humorous signs!

As always, I’m a little sad that it’s over for us already…but we always have next year to look forward to. One of these days, we may even collect every single card!

Gingerbread Walk 2015

It was raining too hard last night for us to enjoy the Belleville Gingerbread Walk the day after Thanksgiving like we usually do. The weather cleared up today, though, so we headed back downtown to walk Main Street, and admire all of the creations.

There were familiar landmarks:

And favorite characters:

Not to mention an iconic spaceship!

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I was amused by the gingerbread taco (which happened to be housed in the local sushi restaurant!):

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I also enjoyed the nod to a coming Belleville attraction. I personally can’t wait for the Hofbräuhaus to open next year!

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It’s always interesting to see the more unusual gingerbread creations:

As well as the more standard houses:

These three were my absolute favorites!

This is definitely one of our favorite Belleville activities every year!

Twin Gingerbread Displays

When we visited the Belleville Gingerbread Walk on Friday night (and again during the day on Saturday), we came across this unusual display…instead of a house, it was a counter set up for baking Christmas cookies. We all thought this was a very unique gingerbread non-house, and also very realistic looking.

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When we visited the Gingerbread Village in St. Charles on Sunday, we all did a double-take when we say this gingerbread creation:

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You guessed it…they were both created by the same person. I like that they’re not identical replicas, but still so very similar that there’s no missing the fact that they must be related. This is certainly the first time we’ve seen two displays so easily identifiable as being made by the same artist…it makes me wonder how many other times we’ve looked at houses (or not), that were created by the same person!

The 2014 Gingerbread Walk

Last weekend, we walked up and down Main Street for the 25th Belleville Gingerbread Walk. As always, I was amazed by all of the creations…the amount of detail that can be put into a structure using food astounds me!

Two of the gingerbread creations in particular caught my eye. The first was the Holiday Tradition display, which wasn’t a house, but a downtown Belleville Christmas scene, complete with Christmas tree and horse-drawn trolley carrying the mayor. I have to admit that part of the reason I like this one is because we know the trolley driver, but I also like how well it captures the spirit of a Belleville Main Street Christmas celebration!

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My second favorite was the Geburtstagkuchen, winner of the Mayor’s award. This is also not a house, but rather a gingerbread cake celebrating Belleville’s 200th birthday. It incorporates some of our favorite moments from the year-long party…the 200-foot long brat, the Fourth of July fireworks, the Christkindlmarkt, and the concerts among them.

Every year, I think that the Gingerbread Walk can’t possibly get any better, and every year  I’m proven wrong. I’m already looking forward to what all of the gingerbread artists will come up with next year!

Christmas Traditions 2014

On Sunday, we made our annual trip out west to St. Charles for the Christmas Traditions festival. It’s the first time we’ve ever been there for the opening weekend, and it’s also the 40th anniversary of the festival, so there was a lot of extra fun to be had!

After an incredible lunch in the old vault at Llywelyn’s Pub, we stopped by the gingerbread village. As always, there were many amazing creations…I’m constantly surprised what people can make with food! We saw historic homes, a hobbit hole, Snoopy, Who-ville, and Olaf…something for everybody!

To celebrate the festival’s 40th anniversary, 40 ornaments were placed around Main Street and Frontier Park to represent the different Christmas legends you can find at the festival. We saw 30 of the ornaments before we had to go…it was a fun addition to our annual character hunt!

Speaking of hunting, we were reminded of this year’s Stl250 cake hunt when we saw the First State Capital cake, currently located on the sidewalk, instead of the backyard where we first saw it. There was something charming about seeing Father Christmas walk past it:

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The children wanted to stop by the gazebo for a group picture:

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Not only were we there for opening weekend, we were also there early enough in the afternoon to see the parade, which was another first for us. It was fun to watch the legends strolling down the brick street, and hearing the fife and drum corps play.

Even though Santa has no place in our home, it was fun seeing the Santas from around the world carrying their countries’ flags!

We collected cards from all the characters we could find. We got 29 of the 36 cards, and we saw all but one other character in the parade (I don’t think Civil War Santa was there at all on Sunday). This may have been our best year yet, and we saw all of our favorites, including the hard-to-find Master of Revels, the incorrigible Jack Frost, and Santa Lucia!

There was yet another special activity just for opening weekend…a Christkindlmarkt. For this event, there was a bonus character, the Christkind, who taught the children the first verse of “Silent Night” in German. While I was disappointed with the market itself, I was glad to see the traditional red and white striped tents, and the Christkind was an excellent addition to the cast of characters.

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There is always so much to see and do in St. Charles, and we never get tired of the Christmas sights!

We make up our own cast of characters, so it was fitting that the children made their own trading card!

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As always, this is one of the most looked forward to events of the Christmas season for our family, and with all of the special events going on, it was even more fun than we had expected!