Local residents are counting down to the official kickoff of the holiday season in Seymour, known as the One Chamber Christmas celebration, hosted by the Seymour Chamber of Commerce.
The annual event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at One Chamber Square in the 100 block of South Chestnut Street in downtown Seymour.
The entire block will be cordoned off to make room for the holiday-themed festivities, from vendors to children’s activities and even live reindeer.
“Weather plays a big part since it’s all outside,” said Gerri Smith, membership services director with the Seymour Chamber of Commerce. “We normally have anywhere from 500 to 800 people attend, depending on the weather.”
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Last year’s event was ushered in with a cold rain, which contributed to decreased attendance, Smith said. “We still ended up with a big crowd. But it was more so near the end right before Santa Claus’ arrival.”
Organizers said they are hoping for kinder weather this year, which undoubtedly will lead to a bigger crowd, she added.
This year’s event welcomes first-time emcee Rexanne Ude, development director for Schneck Medical Center. Ude, who has regularly helped facilitate the annual Women’s Conference hosted by the chamber, said she’s excited to be a part of what she describes as an intergenerational celebration.
“It’s one of those events that can bring everyone out,” she said. “Anyone of any age can come down and participate in it, and that’s what I like about it.”
Doug Gregory, a supervisor with the city’s Department of Public Works, said this year’s Christmas tree for the celebration was donated by Seymour resident Doug Ray and his family.
Originally located on West Second Street, the nearly 20-foot spruce recently was cut down and moved to One Chamber Square, where it was strung with lights and decorated by city workers, Gregory said.
“The reason this tree was chosen is next spring the city of Seymour is widening Second Street, so the tree will go for a good cause,” he said. “The Rays used to decorate it each year for the holidays, and so they’re also donating the lights to go on it.”
If there’s one thing Seymour residents treasure most about the event, it’s the family atmosphere.
Mayor Craig Luedeman said he always looks forward to seeing the families and their children who come out to greet Santa Claus. One of the highlights is riding on the back of the fire truck with St. Nick, he said.
“It’s awesome; you think everyone is waving at you, but it’s always about Santa Claus,” Luedeman said.
“It’s a great event for the city,” he added. “We look forward to it every year. Everyone knows to come down, and hopefully the weather is good.”
This year, attendees can enjoy a variety of holiday treats, from pizza, popcorn and sandwiches to holiday cookies and hot chocolate, offered by businesses and organizations from the Seymour area, including Linzy B’s Bakery, Cub Scouts 528 and Bullwinkle’s Family Restaurant.
“We will have a good variety for people of all ages,” Smith said. “A lot of the time, they come directly from work, so we try to have a little something available for people to eat.”
As one of the event sponsors, Jackson County Bank will be on hand with holiday cookies and hot chocolate, Smith said.
Children will get the opportunity to welcome the return of Jingle John and his reindeer, which will be gathered in a fenced-in area in the middle of the street, and get their pictures taken with the event’s antlered guests.
As in years past, the Department of Public Works will offer a workshop for children where they can make a souvenir Christmas ornament from recycled materials. There also will be face painting.
At 5:30 p.m., children will be able to gather around the Christmas Angel sitting beneath a spotlight near the stage for her reading of “The Night Before Christmas,” Smith said. Shortly afterward, the St. Ambrose Children’s Choir, STEPS Dance Studio and Seymour High School a cappella singers will perform until 6 p.m., when Jingle John takes the stage to entertain the children while they await Santa’s arrival.
“The event is such a crowd-pleaser,” Smith said. “It’s the kickoff to the Christmas season when Santa comes in on the fire truck with the mayor and they light the Christmas tree.”
Seymour resident Dee Smith has attended the event for more than a decade and said it’s a tradition for many people. The mother of two said the event is something you can always count on, because you know Jingle John, Santa Claus and the mayor will be there.
“I see my friends with their kids down there year after year,” she said. “It is how you start the Christmas season.”
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What: One Chamber Christmas celebration
Where: One Chamber Square in the 100 block of South Chestnut Street in downtown Seymour.
When: 5 to 7 p.m. Monday.