A new tradition: Inaugural event draws crowds to downtown


If the inaugural Home For the Holidays failed to put you in the Christmas spirit, there isn’t much more that can be done.

The festival, organized by the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, featured a host of holiday activities downtown Saturday from Breakfast with Santa to a Parade of Lights, live reindeer to a trackless train and traditional Christmas stories to popular movies.

The chamber also had help with organizing the event from the Seymour Parks and Recreation Dept. and Seymour Main Street.

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One of the highlights was the first city’s Parade of Lights, organized by Seymour Oktoberfest Inc. The parade route began on Chestnut Street and turned onto Second Street.

While each entry featured lights, some had immaculate displays of lights. Many of the parade entries handed out candy canes to children who lined the streets.

The event also featured the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony. In the past, the eye-catching Christmas tree stood at One Chamber Square, but it was moved to the newly created Crossroads Community Park. Reace Norman and Lilly and Jack Charlton all helped light the tree with Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman and Santa Claus.

The event began with Breakfast with Santa at Bullwinkle’s Family Restaurant. Santa made repeat appearance in the evening at Crossroads Community Park to hear what children wanted for Christmas this year.

Isakk Sorensen, 4, was the first to greet Santa Claus and tell him what he wanted. It didn’t take long for the young Sorensen to think of what he was going to ask for this Christmas.

“I want a Thomas the Train,” he said while eagerly waiting in line. “I like to play with trains.”

He also was confident he has been good enough to get a train, or maybe even a few.

“I think he will,” he said.

Santa arrived, waved to the crowd and Sorensen was the first to enter.

He sported a wide grin, hopped up on Santa’s lap and made his request as if he’d rehearsed it the night before. There was no panic or pause like when Ralph from “A Christmas Story” attempted to make his request for Red Ryder BB gun at a mall in the 1983 film.

Sorensen’s mother, Suzann, brought the family including her husband, Dirk, and children, Peyton, Levi, Zacrye and Hailey.

The family gathered in front of Santa’s house an hour before he arrived 7 p.m.

“Last year we waited almost three hours,” Suzann said. “We decided we didn’t want to do that again.”

The family spent time at the event throughout the day, checking out the live reindeer and the STEPS dance performance. Peyton was a featured dancer and member of the team.

Sorensen said she thought the event was great, especially for its first year.

“I think it’s amazing here,” she said.

Sorensen said Crossroads Community Park was a better location than One Chamber Square and Chestnut Street, where it was formerly held on the Monday evening after Thanksgiving.

That was without question as lights illuminated the park and its trees, featured a variety of Christmas decorations, Santa’s house and more.

Earlier in the day, live reindeer and the trackless train could be found at the park. There also was facepainting by Boys and Girls Club, a selfie station by Girls Inc. of Jackson County and entertainment from various groups.

Andy and Jaryn Ojeda brought their three children, Maddix, Moses and Mya. The couple are from Seymour, but Andy Ojeda is in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The family was back in town for Thanksgiving and decided to stop by the festival.

“We absolutely love it,” Jaryn Ojeda said. “We couldn’t get over how nice the new park is.”

The family saw the live reindeer and were impressed, especially Maddix, who thought they were cool. The elves handling them were pretty cool, too, he said.

“I can’t believe I saw a real live elf,” he said.

Sasha Norman, who was in charge of organizing the event, said that magic was what the committee wanted to capture.

The event took more than 25 volunteers to pull off and everyone had a role, she said.

Norman said the group hoped it started a tradition for families who attended.

“I think it’s a great kickoff and I think this will be a great tradition,” she said. “I love seeing all the people here.”

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Don’t miss Santa Claus at Crossroads Community Park this year.

Saturdays Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


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