HARTINGTON — Candlelight Christmas is back this year with the traditional holiday feels that many missed in a socially distanced version of the event last year.
The 22nd annual event with the theme Gnome for the Holidays is set for Friday, Nov. 19. It’s the Hartington Chamber of Commerce’s kickoff celebration of the holiday shopping season.
“It draws people together,” said Chamber President Karen Flamig. “We hope it will get some people into the stores that they otherwise wouldn’t venture into. And we want to showcase what we have here in Hartington.”
The highlight of the celebration is the lighted vehicle parade set for 7 p.m.
Last year’s parade - due to the pandemic and socially-distant guidelines - restricted gathering in groups. As a result, vehicles were able to park along Broadway Avenue and spectators were able to watch the parade from their vehicles.
No one was able to throw candy or hand out promotional items.
“At that point, it was a step in the right direction, with so many things that had been canceled,” Flamig said
This year, the lighted parade will be back to “normal” this year without any of the pandemic guidelines in effect.
“It’s a long parade and well worth the time to come out. There’s a lot of lights and people get very, very creative with their float entries,” Flamig said.
Santa will be making his appearance to visit with children starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Senior Center. He will ride in the parade and then return to the center after the parade to continue visiting with children about their Christmas wish lists.
“Last year we weren’t able to have that one-on-one contact with Santa,” Flamig said.
A Santa letter writing station will be set up at the Hartington Public Library as well as Santa’s silent auction.
Auction items, donated by local businesses, can be bid on through Dec. 3 with all of the money raised donated to the local food pantry and the Cedar County Cares Giving Tree program.
Last year, the auction raised more than $900 for the two causes.
“These two causes are very important and vital in our community right now with the pandemic,” Flamig said. “The food pantry gets hit hard with the holidays. . . . Everything is a little more expensive and the need is definitely there.”
Those who attend the Candlelight Christmas will also have food options to enjoy at the event. The Knights of Columbus will be hosting a soup and pie supper. The youth bowling league will be hosting a brisket sandwich meal and Trinity Lutheran Church’s Teens for Christ will be hosting a chili and cinnamon roll feed. Kahl’s Kettle Korn will be on hand for the event and downtown eateries will be open.
Businesses will also be open late that night and have open houses.
Two open spaces are also available on Broadway Avenue for those who may be looking for new office or retail space, she said.
“We have some new businesses in town and thrilled to have them,” Flamig said. “We’re eager to help support them and to make them prosperous as well as the existing businesses.”
Other activities include the Chamber Countdown Card, where customers can collect the letters to spell out “Merry Christmas” by visiting Chamber businesses. Those that complete their card can turn it into the Chamber for a chance to win Chamber bucks.
It appears as if the Chamber has planned for everything - including inclement weather with a snow date already set for Sunday, Nov. 21, with the parade at 6 p.m.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed and hopefully we will not have to use that snow date,” Flamig said.
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