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Life at East: Exploring new ways for town to celebrate season

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

This year, for the first time ever, my family went to Geneva’s Christmas Walk.

Despite the cold, it was an awesome night. The blocked-off streets were brightened by holiday lights, with stores welcoming us in through the lure of sales and hot chocolate. There were carolers and brass bands that stuck out the chill to add to the holiday cheer. It was an enjoyable way to welcome in the holiday season.

I was surprised to hear so many kids talk about it at St. Charles East High School that Friday; I saw even more people I knew when we were walking around. They all seemed to have adopted the event as if Geneva was their own town. One of my friend’s family knew exactly which shop had free Christmas cookies, while another friend knew the best place to grab a quick dinner beforehand.

I wish St. Charles had a holiday celebration more like Geneva’s. The only events we have are the tree lighting and Electric Christmas Parade. Sure, people come downtown and walk around – some stores even put on special sales – but it just doesn’t feel the same.

Main Street is blocked off for only a short amount of time, and Lincoln Park single-handedly compensates for the absence of decorations around the rest of the city. Both of these events lack the interaction that makes the Christmas Walk so fun – one could spend hours strolling around the Christmas Walk.

St. Charles has a wide array of festivals throughout the warmer seasons, such as RiverFest and Scarecrow Fest, which both draw impressive crowds, yet during winter there isn’t anything big that draws people – both citizens and visitors – to town. Sure, we all go to the restaurants and shops, but it is rare to see anyone just spending time downtown this time of year. This is especially true for us teens, seeing as how this weather isn’t ideal for going to get ice cream every week.

I have hope that St. Charles can establish some new holiday festivities. Perhaps the Downtown St. Charles Partnership can create our very own Christkindlmarket, like the one that is in downtown Chicago. Or maybe the public works department could create a public skating rink in Mount St. Mary Park. These attractions could put St. Charles on the map as a place that guarantees a good time for the whole family.

What’s an ideal way to celebrate the holiday season? Spending a day with friends and family while connecting to our great hometown!

• Brigid Ackerman is a senior at St. Charles East High School. She enjoys playing the trumpet, eating bread, and writing this column. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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