“Christmas at the Depot,” sponsored by the city of Bismarck and the Depot Committee, will be celebrated a little bit later this year than usual when it returns to town Dec. 15.
Along with the usual activities such as lighting the Christmas tree and visits with Santa Claus, the evening will also feature the third year of the annual Christmas parade.
According to Depot Committee Chairperson Liz Bennett, the change in the date for Christmas at the Depot was made so that alumni who will be coming to town next month for homecoming festivities will be able to take part.
“We usually have Santa Claus come on the first Saturday of December, but this year he will be coming to town on the 15th to tie in with homecoming activities up at school,” she said, “But the homecoming committee wanted to participate in the Christmas parade. Homecoming takes place on Dec. 20.
“Lineup for the parade begins at 5 p.m. at the school, with the parade starting at 5:30 and Santa arriving at the depot at 6. As always, we encourage everyone to dress warmly and to enjoy the free refreshments that will be provided.”
Bismarck Mayor Seth Radford said the parade has been such a success for the past two years. The planning committee is excited that it now has become an annual part of the festivities.
"This is a great thing for our community," he said. "With everything that's going on, everybody has something special to enjoy. Whether it's watching the parade or the lighting of the Christmas tree or enjoying Christmas snacks in the depot, it's a great night for everyone."
Reminiscing about the beginning of the Christmas celebration, Radford said, "Originally, the entire event started up at the school where the fountain is now. Along with myself, Dennis Mayberry Sr., Jim and Wilma Peterson, the ladies at city hall, Alan Williams, and Cotton Williams all got together and started a tree lighting ceremony up there.
"It was a really neat thing that one of them had seen somewhere else and decided we should make it a tradition here in Bismarck. Years prior to that we used to have Santa Claus ride in a fire truck. So that's how he actually entered the scene by coming up to the school.
"After some time of doing it up there, the Williams had planted a tree in memory of their father. It's grown and it's still lighted every year. The Williams still take care of the lighting. Dennis and the board at that time, I'm not sure exactly who, and the chamber decided to move it down to the depot and had the tree planted. Bismarck is a railroad town."
Along with the parade and Christmas tree lighting, the event will feature holiday refreshments and music. There will also be the annual visit by Santa Claus who’ll be listening to Christmas wish lists, posing for photos and giving out goodies to children who drop by to pay him a visit."
Everyone attending is encouraged to take their own holiday photos.