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'Bringing the community together' and promoting Christmas spirit

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Dec 7, 2018 at 2:00 AM

WAKEMAN — Few things get the Wakeman community together like its annual Fireman’s Festival and Christmas in the Village events. The latter will be celebrating its fifth year of uniting residents and visitors for a family-friendly time Saturday.

Christmas in the Village will run from 8:30 a.m. — with events, activities and shopping opportunities throughout the day — until the tree lighting at about 6 p.m.

This year’s event will feature an extra special event geared especially for children, allowing them to feel the joys of giving, even if their families may not have a lot of money this holiday season. 

A Christmas mini-mall will be set up in Wakeman Congregational Church from 9 a.m to noon to allow children to shop for two gifts for $1 or $2. The location also will offer cookies and fudge for sale by the pound. 

“Kids can feel like they’re picking something out for those special people in their lives,” said event co-organizer Daniel Stober, owner of the village’s Danielion. 

“We have lot of kids (who) wouldn’t be able to go and get something, so it’s really nice for them,” co-organizer and East of Chicago owner Joanna Willinger added.

With all the activities and special events geared for the families, Stober said it’s no rare thing to see children walking the sidewalks during the event. 

“Most of (the local businesses) have some kind of craft, giveaway, snack, a free lunch or something,” he said. “The day of course starts off with breakfast with Santa, then a cookie walk and the mini shopping experience, (which is) new this year. So we see kids out walking about and the community comes out and gets together.”

Stober said the objective of the event is “bringing the community together, to see what’s going on downtown and show a great community spirit.” He said the event spreads the Christmas spirit throughout the village as well, which moves people to donate things and time and to give of themselves. Stober said “it’s quite amazing” how the community and businesses step up in the way for the event each year. 

“We have almost everyone of the downtown businesses involved in some form or fashion. It’s a great program for our community and for us as businesses to give back to the community,” Willinger said. “It’s a way for everyone to appreciate what little ol’ Wakeman has.”

For Stober, Christmas in the Village is a source of delight, making him glad to call the community home.

“I think there are two or three three times a year when Wakeman really pulls itself together —one is during the Fireman’s Festival this is the other,” he said. “I can’t tell you the pride we see in the village when this event is going on.”

Stober said this is especially evident in the business growth that has taken place throughout the past 25 or more years when there was “considerably less” business in the area. 

“Now you can come to Wakeman, have a great meal, get some shopping done and spend the day in the village — and not just during this Christmas in the Village,” he said.

Each of the 24 numbered locations will offer an opportunity for attendees an opportunity to get a “hole punch” in a card. When at least 12 hole-punches fill the ticket, it can be dropped off at East of Chicago by 4 p.m. for a chance to win a Christmas in the Village basket. The numbers in the parenthesis below are the hole-punch stations.

Below is a full schedule of events: 

• 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.: Breakfast with Santa and ornament painting at St. Mary’s Church (No. 1)

Holiday cheer will be in no short supply at the following locations from 9 a.m. to noon: 

• Christmas mini-mall and cookies and fudge sold by the pound at Wakeman Congregational Church (No. 2)

• Holiday refreshments at Key Bank (No. 3)

The following locations will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.:

• Blood pressure screenings at the Citizen’s Ambulance station (No. 4)

• Warm up at the Wakeman Fire District station (No. 5) and enjoy refreshments and games and even take a ride on a fire truck

• Reindeer food-making project at Wakeman Antiques and Farmhouse Designs (No. 6)

• Holiday refreshments at Friendship food stores (No. 7)

• Make a stress ball and enjoy holiday refreshments at CCFI Counseling LLC (No. 8)

• Face painting from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at Shear Paradise (No. 9)

Help fill the sled with a food drive at Giving Sled on Main Street (No. 10). Donations of non-perishable food items, paper products, diapers and hygiene items are appreciated and will benefit Caring Community. Those who can’t make it downtown are encouraged to turn your porch light on or hang non-perishable items on your door. The youth from Collins United Methodist Church will be going door to door to collect donations.

• Free cookies, hot chocolate, cider and coffee at the Dillon Family Foundation (No. 11)

• Write letters to Santa and holiday refreshments at Danielion (No. 12)

• Christmas coloring contest and a family pizza special at East of Chicago Pizza (No. 13)

• Festive hair styles at Wakeman Barber Shop (No. 14)

• Lunch with Santa, where kids eat free at The Brew Pot (No. 15)

• Wood ornament making, with hot cocoa and candy canes at Stevie G’s (No. 16)

• Mini cupcake decorating at Heartful Bakes (No. 17)

• Ornament decorating at Berkel Family Automotive (No. 18)

• Hot wheels for children with cookies and juice at Buschur Racing (No. 19)

• Cookie decorating and holiday refreshments at Zach’s Auto Detailing LLC (No. 20)

• Laundry basket raffle, free Scentsy samples and holiday refreshments at Wakeman Laun-Dri-Mat (No. 21)

• Holiday refreshments at Dollar General (No. 22)

• Paper goodies bag decorations and refreshments at the Wakeman Masonic Lodge (No. 23)

• Meet Chase and Marshall from “Paw Patrol” and enjoy crafts, games and balloon animals at the Huron County Community Library (No. 24)

• 4:30 p.m.: A community gathering will take place along with caroling through the village. Wagon rides will be available for caroling, with the pickup location in the downtown park parking lot.

• 5:45 p.m.: Live Nativity at Florence Congregation Church

• 6 or 6:15 p.m.: Official lighting of the village tree in the downtown park

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