We loved visiting St. Charles, MO, last October for the inaugural season of the Legends and Lanterns festival. We had a great time, and you never would have known that it was in its first year, because everything was so well-organized, and the event ran so smoothly. We’ve been looking forward to going back for the second year, which is scheduled for October 21-22 and 28-29, (plus some evening hours for the Main Street Pumpkin Glow on the 27th), and yesterday was the day! Because the first year went so well, I can’t say I was looking forward to seeing how they worked out the kinks, because there were no kinks to work out. I was however, looking forward to seeing what they added!
The biggest change was the addition of some new characters. We visited Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett on Fleet Street, heard some bad pirate jokes from Blackbeard, danced for Miss Havisham, admired Medusa’s hair, and hoped the Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t eat us. There also seemed to be more tour guides/storytellers wandering around between hay rides, too.
We also ran into plenty of familiar characters from last year, including Stingy Jack, Edgar Allan Poe, Lizzie Borden, and a group of angry villagers, who also happen to be talented singers! I didn’t get pictures of every character we saw this time, but we saw them all, save Ichabod Crane!
I am still impressed with the static stations set up and marked by lanterns unique to each character. It makes it easy to keep track of the characters because you know exactly where to look for them. It also makes it easier to make notes of who you missed!
All the fall decor in St. Charles is beautiful…and there were even a few trees with colorful leaves, which seems like a rarity in St. Louis following a warm, dry fall!
La Plaza del Dia de los Muertos at Berthold Square Park was a very happening place…in addition to face painting, there were crafts for kids, too! And of course La Catrina was there to share about the customs unique to Mexico’s Day of the Dead.
We enjoyed taking a “straw poll” for our favorite scarecrow in Scarecrow Glen…like last year, I was very impressed with how clever people are when assembling their creations!
The other big difference this year was the Legends and Lanterns passport. Last year’s book was excellent, filled with history and fun little puzzles and games (and I still think Christmas Traditions could benefit from something similar). But it was a pretty small book, and the stickers were tiny. This year’s book is much larger, and weighter…it’s still full of great historical information and activities, and there’s plenty of room for the much larger stickers. This was a great improvement that I didn’t even think was necessary!
We had a really fun afternoon in St. Charles…
…and just think, we’ll be back before too long, because Christmas Traditions starts next month!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!”
If you know me, you know I’m not into Halloween. At all. Five children, and we’ve never once gotten costumes and gone trick-or-treating. Not our thing. But I do like local festivals. And history. And literature. And I love St. Charles, MO. So, when I found out that St. Charles was having a new Legends and Lanterns event this year, focusing on the rituals and customs of Halloween through the years, as well as some of the more macabre characters from history and literature, I figured we should go, regardless of our feelings on Halloween.
Actually, I almost didn’t find out about the event at all. I only happened to see a reference to it on social media, and I did some investigating. But after that, I discovered that three of the children had heard about it on the radio (yes, on a station I was listening to…I guess that just shows how much I actually listen to the background noise I put on!), and knew all about it. None of them thought it necessary to tell me about it, though, so I guess they’re lucky I heard about it at all!
So, yesterday we drove out to St. Charles. Our yearly visit for Christmas Traditions is still over a month away, and yet there were things that were familiar. There were characters to visit (although they were handing out stickers instead of cards), and we actually found them all! The cast of characters included Edgar Allan Poe, Lizzie Borden, Vlad (The Impaler) Tepes, Baba Yaga, Guy Fawkes, Abigail Williams, Madame Esmeralda, La Catrina (The Spirit of Dia De Los Muertos), a Druid Priestess, Stingy Jack, the Gingerbread Witch, Igor (servant of Dr. Frankenstein), Ichabod Crane, and a hoard of angry villagers (who, while peasants, were also talented singers!).
One thing that I thought was really well done was the fact that each character had a “post.” There was a unique lantern stand for each character, and if they weren’t there, a sign explained their absence. This made it really easy to keep track of which characters we had seen, and which we had missed. I think the Christmas Traditions festival might benefit from something similar…perhaps static posts for the most popular characters, which would make them easy to locate, and the rest of the characters wandering as they currently do, which is fun from a scavenger hunt point-of-view.
The stickers that each character gave out were meant to be placed in a booklet, which was available (for free!) at the Visitors’ Center on Main Street. The only stickers we didn’t get were for the hayride (which we could have gone on, but we wanted to walk instead), and the Victorian Mourning Exhibit. In addition to a description of each character in the booklet, there were also activities…word searches, crafts, even recipes. This is a another fun idea which reminded me of the long-ago days when Christmas Traditions used to offer a coloring book.
Main Street was a beautiful sight to see, just as it is a Christmastime:
The Dia de los Muertos Plaza was a busy place, and also very colorful!
At Christmas, Main Street has a gingerbread house completion. Yesterday, we found a scarecrow contest…it was hard to pick a favorite!
The was the first year of Legends and Lanterns (although it was so well-organized, you certainly couldn’t tell that they haven’t done it before!), but if the crowd we saw was any indication, it certainly won’t be the last! I think this festival has the potential to become a highly anticipated annual event in St. Charles, and another great thing for the community!
Today we visited the first Legends and Lanterns festival in St. Charles, MO. Of course Dolly had to come along for the ride!
We saw pretty much everything, including the Dia de los Muertos Plaza:
And a bonus picture without Dolly…Chickadee really had fun practicing riding a “horse” according to Ichabod Crane’s instructions!
Once we were home, Chickadee also had a fun time showing Dolly all the stickers she had collected in St. Charles!