Outdoors or in, festive fun awaits

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Dennis Hines | November 29, 2016

ELKHORN — You'll barely finish your Thanksgiving leftovers before it's time to dig into Christmas activities in area communities.

Here are few places where you can enjoy the lights and sights of the season.


Whitewater, Dec. 2

Whitewater festivities kick off with the City Winter Market from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at First and Main streets downtown.

Stories with Santa will be from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at K-9 Hair Care, 145 W. Main St.

The Holiday Parade of Lights will be at 6 p.m. The parade will begin near Main and Whiton streets, travel to Main and Whitewater streets, continue to Fremont and Whitewater streets and end near the SweetSpot Café.

A chili supper and cookie decorating event will be at 7 p.m. at Living Word Church, 212 W. Main St.

For more information, go online to downtownwhitewater.com.


Elkhorn, Dec. 2-3

The city of Elkhorn will he decked out in holiday colors and decorations for the annual Christmas Card Town program. The festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, with the  tree-lighting ceremony in the downtown square. School choirs will perform.

After the tree lighting, Santa and Mrs. Claus will host a reception, including hot chocolate, cookies and crafts at Matheson Memorial Library. Children will have an opportunity to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Chris Clapper, executive director for the Elkhorn Chamber of Commerce, said the tree-lighting ceremony and Santa reception help people get into the holiday spirit.

“It energizes the community,” Clapper said. “Everybody enjoys the holiday decorations in the town square. We look forward to seeing everybody there.”

The festivities continue with the 35th annual Christmas Card Town Parade at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, through downtown Elkhorn. The parade will feature decorated floats, local high school bands, live animals, novelty acts and an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“It's well attended by community groups and businesses,” Clapper said of the parade. “We also will have stilt walkers and wacky wheel walkers.

“The parade has a rich history and great community involvement.”


Lake Geneva, Dec. 2-3

Several activities will be held in Lake Geneva to kick off the holiday season, including the Festival of Lights at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at the Riviera. The event will include Christmas stories, hot chocolate, cookies and a visit from Santa. Several businesses in the downtown area will be hosting holiday-related activities.

The annual lighted parade will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in downtown. Local businesses and organizations decorate lighted floats and compete for the best float award and $500.

“The floats have to be based on the parade's theme,” said Julie Baron, executive director of Visit Lake Geneva. “This year's theme is 'Celebrate Your Inner Elf.' It's all about enjoying the season and wearing a smile on your face.”

Baron said the parade is well attended each year.

“We had more than 7,000 people at the parade last year,” she said. “We get a lot of people from outside the community as well as from the community.”


Old World Wisconsin, Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 10-11

People can experience holiday traditions as Old World Wisconsin will present An Old World Christmas from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 and Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, at the living history museum near Eagle.

The program will feature re-enactors stationed at 19th century-style buildings talking about how Christmas was celebrated during the Victorian era. Attendees can witness the Ketola Finnish farmstead sauna being fired up for the winter weather, sample ethnic foods and have their photos taken with a Finnish Santa and Krampus, the “Christmas devil” who supposedly scared children into being good.

“It's a great time to travel back and visit different buildings and ethnic groups from Wisconsin to see how Christmas was celebrated in the past,” said Anna Altschwager, assistant director of guest experiences at Old World Wisconsin. “You can experience some of the traditions that took place on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve and compare them to the Christmas traditions of today and see that they're not that much different.”

New this year is holiday shopping at a 19th century general store.

“When people buy their ticket, they will get some tokens and they can use the tokens to shop in the general store, just like they would've done in the past,” Altschwager said. “So, you just don't get to see the past, but you also get to experience it.”

About 50 re-enactors are involved in An Old World Christmas each day of the program.

“We have historic re-enactors who help in all the different buildings. We have re-enactors who help prepare the Christmas pudding and offer the guests a sample,” Altschwager said. “Hopefully, we will have snow so we can offer horse-drawn bobsled rides between the village and Finnish settlement. If not, we will offer wagon rides. There's so many different things to do.”

Besides the activities, people also will enjoy visiting the buildings at Old World Wisconsin, she said.

“I love the buildings. They're not replicas. They're actual buildings that are from all over Wisconsin,” Altschwager said. “You get to visit the different ethnic groups that were in Wisconsin. You can see how they dressed and what types of foods they ate and sample some of the foods.”

Visitors are encouraged to share holiday stories.

“It's a great way for the re-enactors to start a conversation with the families,” Altschwager said. “It's hands-on learning for the kids, parents and grandparents.”

The cost to attend An Old World Christmas is $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 5 to 17. For more information, call 262-594-6301 or go to wisconsinhistory.org.


Christmas radio theater, Dec. 10

Old-time radio will come to life as Gateway Technical College's WGTD Radio Theater will present “Another Christmas Variety Show” from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 10, at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan.

The fourth annual program will feature holiday skits with radio actors portraying Hollywood legends such as Dean Martin, Phyllis Diller, Jerry Lewis and Bette Davis, said Steve Brown, co-executive producer for WGTD Radio Theater.

The program also will include music from Bill's Little Big Band and the Dixie Dudes and unique sound effects.

“The audience enjoys seeing and hearing the sound effects onstage,” Brown said. “It's live radio like old-time radio used to be.

“There's been some mistakes in the past. Sometimes someone misses a bell ringing or a knock on the door; then we have to be creative.”

The production will feature about 20 volunteer radio actors.

“Many of them have been with us for eight or 10 years,” he said. “It's all done with an original script.”

About 100 people usually attend the performance, which is broadcast live on the Gateway Technical College radio station, WGTD 91.1 FM.

“The audience is really engaged,” Brown said. “We get a wide range of ages.”

The cost to attend “Another Christmas Variety Show” is $20 for the show and breakfast and $10 to attend the show only. Tickets can be purchased by calling 262-728-7950 or by going to lakelawnresort.com.


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