The annual Krekeler Jeweler’s Farmington Christmas Parade never fails to delight as it rolls through the streets of historic downtown Farmington in a spectacular display of lights and sound.
This year’s theme was “A Caroling Christmas,” and it provided a mobile multi-colored extravaganza of whimsy and imagination for eager parade watchers who began lining the streets at least an hour before the scheduled starting time. Mother Nature was in a holiday mood and generously gifted event planners and spectators with agreeable weather by curtailing the rain that had fallen earlier in the day and holding temperatures at a tolerable mid-40 level.
After more than an hour’s worth of beautiful floats, walking units, horses, firetrucks, and crowd walkers distributing candy or treats to the delighted parade-goers, there was a sudden frenzy of excited shouts and screams filling the air as the first children spotted the guests of honor. Perched atop the back of a Farmington fire engine, bedecked in familiar red velvet and white-trimmed attire, Santa and Mrs. Claus were full of smiles and Christmas cheer as they received their welcome. They waved back happily and shouted holiday greetings to their adoring and exuberant fans. As the esteemed visitors from the North Pole passed on by, the crowds disbursed and made their way toward Long Memorial Hall in anticipation of Winter Wonderland’s grand opening.
At Long Hall, the gathering crowd of merrymakers was serenaded with Christmas tunes courtesy of the band from Farmington High School. United Way President and local radio celebrity Mark Toti was stationed at the building’s step with a megaphone to announce the parade entry winners.
- Best in Show: Tim Harris for Sheriff
- First Place: Midwest Real Estate
- Second Place: Home Pools and Spa
Winter magic must have been used because Santa and Mrs. Claus seemed to appear from thin air and suddenly materialized at the steps of Winter Wonderland with Toti, who relinquished the megaphone. Mrs. Claus blew kisses to the cheering crowd while Santa thanked everyone for coming to the parade and welcomed them to come inside to visit with him at Winter Wonderland.
The air inside was blanketed with an unexpected level of awe and reverence as families waited in line to pass through the train and village display. Mrs. Claus charmed the visitors as they passed by her to mount the stairs and cross the catwalk between the elaborate holiday village display with the three working train sets. Wide-eyed with amazement, the children held tightly to the hands of their grownups as they made their way toward Santa, who was seated in a huge, comfy chair awaiting their arrival.
“Ho, ho, ho!” he laughed as they made their way toward him. Not one declined his offer to climb into his lap and share their Christmas wishes with him. The grownups who accompanied Santa’s various petitioners had ample photo opportunities to capture the special moment. Santa gently reminded each of his visitors to always be kind and do their best to be good all the time. While each child agreed, Santa handed out a candy cane and a small stuffed toy before they were ushered away by their accompanying grownups.
Other opportunities to visit Winter Wonderland are available through Dec. 22. Weekdays, the hours are from 6-8 p.m. On Dec. 9 and 16, the hours will be from 1- 3 p.m.
Outside Winter Wonderland, across Columbia Street at the New Life Church, another expression of Christmas was quietly unfolding. Church member Kate Smith, with helpers of her own, offered free hot cocoa and home-baked cookies to passersby who had stood in the evening chill for the parade and wait for a visit with Santa. Near her refreshment table, there was a rack of warm coats and a table of blankets. She smiled and said it was New Life’s way of offering a helping hand and friendship to the community.
A few yards away, a ply-wood crafted nativity scene near the church entrance had a soft spotlight pointed toward a small manger with a swaddled doll nestled in the straw. Between the parade festivities, the magic of Winter Wonderland with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a demonstration of meeting the most basic of human needs, and a reminder of the birth of Christ himself, one could easily acknowledge that the essence of Christmas had most certainly descended and found a home in Farmington for the season.
Lisa Brotherton-Barnes is a staff writer with the Daily Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.