St. Charles kicks off Christmas season

By Michael Piwowarski, news editor.

ST. CHARLES — Coal Miners’ Park was flowing with activity as downtown St. Charles kicked off their 2nd annual Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration Friday, Nov. 30.

Although a park may seem like a more ideal destination for summer weather, an impressive crowd still gathered at Coal Miners’ Park to enjoy each other’s company and witness the lighting of the St. Charles community Christmas tree.

Matt Lane, St. Charles village manager, says that the Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration was conceived in 2016 as a way to bring community events back to the town.

“We received a tree donated by the family of the late Cecil Szepanski in his memory and we pledge to use that tree as our community Christmas tree and light it each year. In 2017, a community group formed to expand the Christmas celebration into the downtown. With members from the Village, School District, Library, Lion’s Club, local churches and area businesses, we set out to bring back a sense of community around the holiday season,” says Lane.

Lane states that the St. Charles community used to have a lot more events and festivals a long time ago, but those died out due to event organizers either dying or growing tired of organizing the events and the dissolution of the St. Charles Area Chamber of Commerce.

The tree lighting on the evening of Nov. 30 was met with thunderous applause coming from the excited crowd. The gazebo and surrounding bushes were also lit up, adding an extra touch of holiday cheer.

After that, on came the festive Christmas music; with the addition of cookies and hot beverages, a campfire, hayrides and a petting zoo, the stage was set for a warm Christmas celebration in the otherwise cold weather.

“So far, turnout has been great,” says Lane. “Last year, we were surprised by the number of people we had for the parade and downtown celebration. This year’s tree lighting was a success as well. We had quite a showing compared to years past.”

According to Lane, the organizers behind the Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration are still in the “research and development phase,” trying to improve on it each year.

“Weather plays a big role, but we’ve engaged […] [the] community a lot more and executed a marketing and advertising plan that seems to be helping get people interested and excited about the events,” says Lane.

Aside from an annual Christmas event, Lane says that the Village of St. Charles is interested in bringing more annual events back to town in the future, including a summer car show or outdoor sports event, although current plans are to improve on the events that they are currently running.

“We are trying to make what we’ve got better before we expand too much,” says Lane. “We have the Haunted Fall Harvest on the last day of the St. Charles Farmers’ Marketplace in October and the Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration that we’ve been working to build up.”

St. Charles, located southwest of Saginaw, provides an old-fashioned, small-town experience, hosting a variety of businesses including shops and restaurants, as well as several recreational opportunities to enjoy throughout the year including hunting, fishing, canoeing and bike riding.

To learn more and stay up to date with upcoming community events, follow the Village of St. Charles on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/STCMichigan/

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