Christmas tales come to life with the “Storybook Christmas” parade sponsored by Krekeler Jewelers and presented by the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The parade begins at 6 p.m. and goes through the streets of downtown Farmington. But, the fun starts earlier with strolling storybook characters, merchant specials, and even a reindeer.
Prior to the start of the parade is a live reading of “The Polar Express” at the Farmington Public Library, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
At the conclusion of the parade is the opening of Winter Wonderland at Long Memorial Hall, featuring a G-scale train set and the replica village of hometown USA. The 1,000-square foot display is big enough to accommodate four independent train sets making four different loops through the village.
Winter Wonderland opens immediately at the conclusion of the parade and is open from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights until Dec. 22.
Parks and Recreation Director Chris Conway is now in his second year at the helm and said his first experience with Christmas in Farmington far exceeded his expectations.
“It was more than I could have even imagined,” he said. “It is a staple of Farmington and you can sense the excitement around it with the buildup of the parade and the schools that come to visit Winter Wonderland during the day and the kids that come with their families at night – it’s really incredible and a sight to see.”
He credits staff with the Farmington Parks and Recreation Department for the three weeks of preparation work with Winter Wonderland – and their years of work with the city in growing the display to what it is today.
And, this year, there are more ways to experience Winter Wonderland.
“We’re adding to our programming in the Christmas season with a ‘Breakfast with Santa’ two of the weekends in December,” Conway said. “These two breakfast events will take place in Winter Wonderland.”
The breakfast events begin at 9 a.m. on Dec. 9 and 16. The cost is $5 per person. Pre-registration is required and can be done online at farmington-mo.gov or in person at the Farmington Civic Center.
“It’s another opportunity to see Winter Wonderland and get a picture with Santa,” he said.
Winter Wonderland is also a “Toys for Tots” drop-off location. The program is sponsored by the United States Marine Corps. There is also a drop-off location for new toys at the Farmington Civic Center.
Jeff and Sheila Krekeler have sponsored the parade since their two sons were young. For them, it’s become a part of their holiday traditions.
“The whole Christmas parade, the whole Winter Wonderland…it’s huge that our community has that,” Jeff Krekeler said. “Every Christmas, we watch at least part of the ‘A Christmas Story’ marathon on TBS. I think when they take the kids to the big department store and they’ve got Santa on top of the mountain…I’ve got to believe people watch that and go, ‘Man, wouldn’t that be cool if we had a place like that.’
“In this area, we do and I think that’s incredible.”
Krekeler admits Christmas brings out the “big kid” in himself – and he’s glad his family plays a small part in city’s celebrations.
For more information on the parade, contact the chamber at 756-3615. To schedule a daytime visit at Winter Wonderland, contact the parks department at 756-0900.