Christmas on Main Street

I love Belleville’s Main Street. Whether you’re dining out, looking in store windows, or attending one of the great events that take place on the town square (like Art on the Square), it’s just a charming place to be. But there is no better time to visit Main Street than Christmastime…there are beautiful decorations, fancy store windows, horse-drawn trolley rides, and the sounds of Christmas music coming from the Lincoln Theatre.

This year, a beautiful sand sculpture of a glockenspiel added to the holiday decor. I had meant to take a picture of it at night, because it was beautifully lit, but I never had the chance before it started crumbling. At least I got a good shot of it during the day!

The gingerbread houses in the stories windows up and down Main Street are always a family favorite…we love going from shop to shop in anticipation of what we’ll see next, and I am here to tell you that there are some very creative and talented people in Belleville!

A few always stand out as family favorites. Extra kudos to the child who called the tower that houses Big Ben by its proper name!

The Mayor’s Choice winner is always special, because it really captures something special about what makes Belleville unique:

For the last few years, a Christkindlmarkt has joined the other Christmas activities downtown, and I can’t think of anything more perfect, given Belleville’s German heritage! In addition to booths selling unique items, you can grab a bite to eat, warm up in the big tent, visit with reindeer on certain dates, and sometimes, even catch a musical performance!

I’m so happy we live in Belleville…there’s really no place I’d rather be!

Christmas Traditions 2017

Yesterday was that most magical day of the year when we went to St. Charles, MO, for the Christmas Traditions festival. I think this was one of our coldest visits to the event…some years, we’ve barely needed sweatshirts, but yesterday, we were wearing winter coats, hats and gloves! We braved the cold to see all of our favorite characters and collect their cards along the way…We ended up with 32 of 45 cards, which isn’t too bad! Every year, I hope that maybe this is the year we get them all, but I kind of doubt that will ever happen. Plus, there are Wednesday night bonus cards, so we really couldn’t ever collect all of them, since we can only make the journey to St. Charles once a year, and we would rather go during the day on the weekend.

We visited the Gingerbread Village, where, as always, I was impressed by the talent and creativity on display. I especially liked the gingerbread TARDIS!

Part of the fun is seeding the old buildings, horse-drawn carriages, and beautiful Christmas decorations:

By the time the parade rolled around, a few of us were too cold to watch, and had to head back to the car. Those that stayed enjoyed seeing ALL the characters, and taking part in the camaraderie of the crowd:

No matter how I feel about Santa, I always enjoy seeing the Santas of the world carrying in their country’s’ flags:

We didn’t take a lot of pictures with the characters, but we got the ones that mattered most, including a group shot with my favorite Santa (Frontier Santa, who I am pretty sure is exactly who Mr. Edwards met in Little House on the Prairie), and a photo with Bunny and Jack Frost, her Christmas Traditions hero:

And of course a family picture on the steps of the gazebo!

It always goes by too fast, but we’re already thinking about the fun we’ll have next year!

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!