To celebrate the end of 2014, and the Belleville200 year, we had our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar with a Belleville200 twist. Instead of our standard Christmas mugs, we used the mugs we bought at the Belleville Christkindlmarkt. It seemed like a fitting way to end a spectacular year!
What a year this has been! We learned much, laughed a lot, and made a lot of great memories!
January seems like a very long time ago, and it was a pretty quiet month. We started the year with the biggest snowstorm St. Louis has seen since we’ve lived here, plus some wickedly cold temperatures, which resulted in a cracked window in our house. Chickadee helped bake Christmas cookies for the first time…yes, after Christmas Day, but still within the 12 Days of Christmas! Ryan celebrated his 4th anniversary working for Automattic with a brand-new, customized laptop. Every member of our family got to visit the Cardinals Winter Warm-Up for the first time.
February was even more quiet. We spent a lot of time watching the Olympics and learning about Russia…we even had a Russian/winter-themed tea party. We also said “Happy Birthday!” to St. Louis and joined in the kick-off weekend at the Missouri History Museum for the 250 in 250 exhibit, part of the larger Stl250 celebration.
March was when things really started to get busy. We began our epic Stl250: Cakeway to the West cake hunt on the 5th at one of our favorite local places–Eckert’s. At the time we didn’t realize that it was just the beginning of a journey that would take us all over the St. Louis metro area (and a little beyond), to find every single one of the more than 250 cakes. St. Louis wasn’t the only city celebrating a milestone year, however…our home town of Belleville celebrated its 200th birthday, as well. And Schnucks, our favorite local grocery store, celebrated 75 years in business, and even had a special birthday event for customers. We began another year’s Lenten observance, including another appearance on KFUO’s Faith ‘n’ Family for me. The Missouri History Museum had a fun St. Patrick’s Day event planned for homeschoolers. The following day, Turkey turned 11, and a few days later, Chickadee turned two. We got to be part of a cake unveiling at Concordia Seminary. And at the end of the month, we rejoiced at the beginning of another season of Cardinals baseball!
Things remained busy in April. We took a day off of our regular schoolwork to go to the “Weather Bash at Busch,” and take in a Cardinals game in the bargain. We celebrated Easter. Fredbird’s “Facebook Friday” finally made it to a metro-east location we could get to. The Belleville200 events continued with a parade. Bunny finished another session of parks and rec volleyball. We said goodbye to our old pastor.
In May we visited Grant’s Farm. Did I mention that they celebrated their 60th anniversary this year? It was a big year in the St. Louis area! Bunny and Ladybug got their ears pierced. Ladybug turned seven, and finally got the American Girl doll I had purchased and put away for her almost a year earlier. We wrapped up another school year. Ryan and I celebrated our 13th anniversary with the children at Busch Stadium. I put together a book list for our latest summer school unit–all about baseball. Speaking of baseball, Turkey started a new season with our parks & rec.
There were more Belleville200 events in June, including a street fair in one of the town’s historic neighborhoods and a classic car show. We spent my birthday doing the perfect birthday activity…cake hunting! We also got to go to a Gateway Grizzlies game with Moose for his school’s honor roll night. Our baseball-themed summer school got started.
July was an especially busy month. We finally had the somewhat ironic Independence Day tea party I’ve been wanting to have for a few years. Chickadee ran into her pal Fredbird at Busch Stadium. We visited the Schmidt Art Center to see the Belleville Bicentennial: 200 exhibit. Turkey and Ladybug entered Lego creations in a contest at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Ladybug came in third in her age group! While we were at the Garden, we also got to view the Nature Connects Lego exhibit. As part of summer school, we took the children on a tour of Busch Stadium and then a tour of the new Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum. Bunny turned ten. After all these years of living in St. Louis, we finally journeyed to the top of the Gateway Arch. We had a fun week at Vacation Bible School. The children and I went to our first vintage base ball game, and discovered how different, and how much fun, that game is.
The busyness continued in August, starting with a trip to Chesterfield Mall for a Play Nintendo event, where Turkey got to compete in his first video game tournament…he came in second! We wrapped up our cake hunt at Lafayette Square…it was amazing to look back and see all the places we had visited…our local newspaper even had a story about our journey! The children got to visit a Big Boy restaurant for the first time, on the way to our epic summer school field trip at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. At the end of the month, everyone started a new school year.
The highlight of September was the big Belleville200 weekend. We had the privilege of attending a Naturalization ceremony, went to a Beach Boys concert on the town square, danced to German polkas, attended another vintage base ball game, and watched the grilling of a record-breaking 200-foot-long brat.It was a great time! Bunny played in her first season of competitive parks & rec volleyball. We attended the St. Louis Scottish Games for the second time, and this year, Ryan was able to go with us! And, lest you thought that finding our 250th cake in August meant that our cake hunt was complete, we found a bonus cake (one to grow on?).
In October we visited Eckert’s for our annual pumpkin picking trip. Bunny had the game-winning serve in the first round of her volleyball tournament! We also welcomed a new pastor to our church, after a fairly short vacancy. I went on a Busch Family Estate Walk at Grant’s Farm, and finally saw (and photographed!) the elusive Busch family mansion from all sides. The cake hunt continued when we went to the unveiling of another bonus cake.
November meant a lot of fun in school, including the return of our Thankful Tree, the reading of some of our favorite Thanksgiving books, and building a Lego: The Hobbit set to celebrate having finished reading the book. We had another tea party, this time to celebrate St. Louis’ 250th birthday, and Moose’s golden birthday…the first one of those we’ve celebrated! We visited Belleville’s new Bicentennial Park and admired the beautiful fall colors, and then returned less than two weeks later to see it covered in snow. Ryan and I went to the Three Sixty rooftop bar for a spectacular view of St. Louis. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a record seven pies (in addition to all of the other Thanksgiving foods)! The following day, we went downtown for Belleville’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the annual gingerbread walk. We also visited St. Charles Christmas Traditions on opening weekend for the first time, and even got to eat lunch in a bank vault!
December was, as always, insanely busy, and insanely fun. I got to see a “cake in progress” when I dropped off my entry for the Soulard Art Market “Everywhere there’s Cake” exhibit. I had a moment of insanity when I decided we should rearrange the furniture in our schoolroom (and den!), but it turned out really well, so it was worth it. We celebrated an Italian Christmas at Christmas on the Hill, and then drove immediately to Cahokia, where we learned about French Colonial Christmas celebrations. The brewery opened their Christmas lights display to foot traffic again this year, so of course we went. We also got to see nativity scenes from all over the world at Belleville’s cathedral. The children enjoyed playing their roles on Santa Lucia morning. After not making it last year, we got back to Tuba Christmas. We also returned to the Old Courthouse, this time to see what an 1864 Christmas ball would have been like. The first-ever Belleville Christmas Market had us visiting the town square several times over the course of the month. Of course, all of our celebrations culminated on Christmas Eve and Day, and again on Boxing Day, when we enjoyed our English Christmas feast. And there was one more cake visit (our way of saying goodbye), before the end of the year!
This is just a glimpse into the fun we had throughout this amazing year. Much of our fun was tied to both St. Louis’ and Belleville’s birthday celebrations. While those festivities may be over, I can’t wait to see what kind of adventures the next year holds for our family!
Happy New Year!
This may be my last Belleville200 mention of 2014!
In October, Belleville unveiled the inaugural inductees into the new Belleville Walk of Fame, located on the northwest quadrant of the town square.
So far, there are five Belleville residents recognized on the Walk, including George Blair, the man who donated the parcel of land that became Belleville, and famed actor Buddy Ebsen. I’m looking forward to seeing who else is honored by our city in the future!
Today is the last day of the first-ever Belleville Christkindlmarkt.
Ever since we moved to this town in 2006, I’ve told Ryan every Christmas that I don’t understand why Belleville didn’t have one. The town square is the perfect location for it, and there’s already a lot of Christmas festivities going on down there. Belleville is also very proud of her German heritage, so it seemed like a no-brainer to me.
This year, to celebrate the city’s 200th birthday, I finally got my wish…a Christkindlmarkt set up on two quadrants of the town square. It was pretty much exactly like I imagined it, right down to the specially designed mugs for Gluhwein!
There were some lovely stalls selling some wonderfully unique gifts:
On the weekends, different groups performed on the square, like the O’Fallon High School madrigals:
They also periodically had demonstrations of different crafts, like this Sole Survivor leather work demonstration:
A pair of reindeer visited (Prancer and Sven), and we even got to see them lock antlers!
And with the reindeer came a beautiful, antique sleigh:
It really was just like I dreamed it. And every time I was down there, (many times over the last few weeks), night or day, it was busy, even in bad weather. I’m hopeful that this wasn’t just the first-ever, but the first-annual Christkindlmarkt on our town square…I’d love for it to be part of our Christmas traditions for many years to come!
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!
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!
Last week, we finally got a chance to stop by Belleville’s new Bicentennial Park. It’s a beautiful place, especially right now with the leaves turning! There are several nature trails winding through the trees, and it’s a great place to see some local flora (and probably fauna, as well!).
There are two small play areas…emphasis on small. But they each have a cool theme…one is trees, and the other butterflies. Between the two, there’s one regular swing and one baby swing, a climbing structure, two tunnels, and some stepping flowers.
There’s even a bench in each area to fit the theme!
A nice gazebo sits just off one of the lakes:
That same lake has a small dock:
There’s a stream running along the edge of the park:
A few familiar pieces of art grace the park…I think we’ve seen them (or at least pieces by the same artists), at Art on the Square!
It’s well-marked, so everyone will remember when it was built, and why!
I will say that it feels like it’s still a work in progress. There are a few paved trails that end abruptly, and it seems like there should be more play areas with different themes. It appears that there are further plans for the park as money becomes available, although I don’t know what those plans are. I look forward to seeing how it changes and improves in the future!
Now that I’ve shared all the fun things we did to celebrate the Belleville200 weekend, here’s a wrap-up!
- We saw artists painting pictures for the Plein Air Art Auction.
- We visited a Civil War encampment.
- We went to a vintage baseball game…huzzah!
- We saw the grilling of a 200 foot long brat!
- We got into the Oktoberfest spirit.
- And anything else I missed!
What a great weekend…I’m so glad we live here and got to celebrate with the city!
I’ve covered some of the specific, special events of the Belleville200 celebration, but there was a lot more going on all weekend long!
We saw a lot of demonstrations:
The Beach Boys may have been the headline band, but we also heard the Belleville Philharmonic, the Waterloo German Band, and the Belleville German Band. So, over the weekend, we heard classic rock, classical, and German music…very diverse, and we loved it all! We especially loved “Roll out the Barrel,” “In Heaven there is No Beer,” and “Edelweiss.” We all danced in the streets, too (and we weren’t the only ones)!
The children’s area was fantastic…rides, games, and a petting zoo, plus yet another stage for performances:
There was so much more to see and do!
But mostly, we saw all kinds of people!
This was the biggest Oktoberfest celebration Belleville has had since we’ve lived here, and I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate Belleville’s 200th birthday, and the city’s German heritage. It was the perfect party!