Yes, there was a Huge Turnout for Old Fashioned Christmas! And oh what a night! The weather was perfect so families turned out in throngs for the 3 rd annual event that starts the Christmas season. Families began arriving at 5:30 to enjoy Christmas music, receive a glow stick, a program with activity map, and take pictures with holiday characters such as Frosty, Gingerbread Man, Grinch, Toy Soldier, elves, and others. None of the activities were available to enjoy until after the Big Tree lighting. So, anticipation was high for a visit with Santa for children, pictures at the family fun photo booth, listening to “The Night Before Christmas” read by an elf, visiting the live reindeer, and taking the horse-drawn wagon ride around the park. The live nativity had both reverent observers and those who came up to observe the baby Jesus closely. The Chapel was a warm refuge to hear the Bible reading of the true Christmas Story. And like every year, cookies, hot cocoa and s’mores were consumed by the warmth of a fire pit.
And there were some changes this year. The most obvious was the 20×40 foot stage that was loaned by the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce. This enabled two musical groups, The Chain Gang and Winona Lake Brass Quintet, to be more visible and to be heard. Phil Metcalf again served as the Master of Ceremonies. Another new element was the t-shirt toss by the Grinch (Tami Schumm) who threw out twenty green Chautauqua Wawasee kids t-shirts from the stage to screaming children. Also new was the wagon ride, which replaced the sleigh ride. Due to its large capacity, more peoplewere able to enjoy the ride pulled by two horses. But what about the lighting of the 70-foot tree? Anticipation was high as 6:15 approached for the lighting and countdown. Oakwood Resort owners, Dr. Rex Parent and his wife Connie, had the honor this year to lead the countdown with the entire crowd joining in: ten, nine, eight….one, MERRY CHRISTMAS…and the huge tree sprang to colorful life as everyone sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas, We Wish You a Merry Christmas…and Happy New Year.
Chautauqua-Wawasee organizes Old Fashioned Christmas as a free gift to the community with active participation from the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, Syracuse Parks Department, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce, Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Wawasee Property Owners Association, Rotary, Oakwood Resort, Nappanee Chamber of Commerce, Wawasee High School Tech Department. Kip Schumm is the Program Manager who orchestrates the huge effort in recruiting vendors, 70+ volunteers, and partners. And thanks to these businesses who contributed: Jasper Plastics, Bass Audiology, The Papers Inc., Los Toritos Mexican Restaurant, Man Cave Brewing, Pickwick Theater, Colbin Tool Co. and WPOA.