Creston residents will kick off their Christmas season Thursday.
The annual “There’s No Place Like Creston for the Holidays” takes place Dec. 5 through Sunday Dec. 8, with more events the following weekend of Dec. 14 and 15. The celebration is made up of holiday events hosted by different businesses and community groups, with the overall effort being coordinated by the Creston Chamber of Commerce.
“We don’t even know how long Creston has been celebrating the holidays like this,” said Ellen Gerharz, executive director of the Creston Chamber of Commerce. “I know that this is my 20th year doing it, but it had been going on before I started, I know that much.”
The event that started the tradition was the Lighted Christmas Parade, which is scheduled this year to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in uptown Creston.
“The Lighted Christmas Parade might be my favorite Creston parade, mainly because it’s the only one I’m at the start of,” said Gerharz with a laugh. “That means I actually get to see the whole parade for once.”
Thursday is the busiest day of the event, with various activities taking place before the parade. Taste of Union County begins at 4 p.m. at EveryStep on Adams Street, with the living windows displays beginning at 5 p.m. in uptown Creston. This year, the nine businesses participating in the living windows displays — Adams Street Espresso, The Bookwyrm, Coen’s Furniture, Create Creston, EveryStep Visiting Nurse Services, Hazel Maries, House of Pain, Radiant Wellness and Wishing Well —are handing out free raffle tickets to anyone who comes in during the display. The winner of the drawing will receive a prize of 100 Creston Bucks.
The Creston Restored Depot is host to majority of Thursday’s events. Creston:Arts open up their gallery at 4:30 p.m., the same time the model railroaders begin displaying their model train version of the city of Creston.
“The trains aren’t just for the kids,” said Gerharz. “The adults always give great feedback and they love to watch the trains just as much at the younger ones.”
The depot will be the host of the ASP Soup Supper at 5p.m., which also marks the arrival of Santa & Mrs. Claus to the restored depot. The couple will greet children and listen to their Christmas wish lists up until the parade begins at 7 p.m.
The SWCC basketball teams will begin caroling at the depot at 5:15 p.m., which is their third year participating in the event.
Following the parade, Iowa State Savings Bank opens its doors to the public for its annual ISSB Holiday Jazz Open House. This year the Creston Middle School jazz band will perform.
The Festival of Trees is returning this year. The annual silent auction fundraiser is held at American Home Design Center and proceeds benefit the Crisis Intervention and Advocacy Center. Every year, businesses, organizations and individuals decorate trees, wreaths or any interesting piece with a holiday theme. The Festival of Trees runs throughout the first weekend of the event with the winners being chosen by the end of the weekend.
“There’s more than just trees there,” said Gerharz. “I’ve seen holiday themed bicycles and other art pieces sold in the auction. There’s some really cool stuff to see.”
American Home Design Center will also be the location of the quilt raffle drawing hosted by the Patches & Pieces Quilt Guild noon Saturday. All the proceeds of the raffle will go to Greater Regional Health’s cancer center to provide gas cards for cancer patients who have to travel to get to their appointments.
SWCC will be performing Tuba Christmas 2019 4:30 p.m. Saturday at SWCC. The ensemble of tubas, baritones, sousaphones and other low brass playing Christmas favorites is a tribute to tuba legend William “Bill” Bell, who was born in Creston on Christmas Day 1902.
“The event used to take place years ago but we brought it back last year as sort of a kickoff to the Sesquicentennial,” said Gerharz.
With traditions being brought back, others are preparing their finale. Sunday marks the final performance presented by Joyful Noise at 1:30 p.m. at the Creston Community High School.
“That group has changed over time, but their performance has been part of the holiday for years now,” said Gerharz.
Leslie’s Dance & Tumbling will present their Winter Showcase at 6 p.m. Saturday in the SWCC Performing Arts Center.
“Instead of doing one big show in the spring, Leslie’s Dance & Tumbling decided to break it into to smaller showcases with the first one taking place this weekend,” said Gerharz.
A new event coming to the celebration is Holiday Tea at the Village, taking place 1 p.m. Dec. 11 and Dec. 14 at the Union County Historical Village. Reservations are required in order to attend.
Also next weekend, The Creston Animal Rescue Effort Gift & Bake Sale will take place Dec. 14 at The Creston Restored Depot 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Dec. 15, the last scheduled event is set to take place is the SWCC Holiday Concert. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. in the SWCC Performing Arts Center.
Gerharz says the annual celebration is her favorite time of year, and that she believes the members of the community can relate.
“Nobody is ever grumpy,” said Gerharz. “Everyone is in great humor. I love the spirit.”