Want to go?
• WHAT: Annual Harbour Town 1837 Christmas Walk
• WHEN: Nov. 26-28
• WHERE: Downtown Vermilion
• COST: Free
• INFO: vermilion.net
Christmas time has arrived, which means long lines at the mall, overzealous shoppers elbowing you in crowded aisles and mass commercialism at its height. If this annual ritual makes you sad or mad, there’s a local event — an anti-Black Friday affair, if you will — that conjures up excitement from Christmas past for the young and old.
The Annual Harbour Town 1837 Christmas Walk, which takes place Thanksgiving weekend in downtown Vermilion, offers boutique shopping, trolley rides, a tree lighting and if you look hard enough, a partridge in a pear tree.
“This is our 22nd year,” said Friends of Harbour Town Executive Director Diane Chesnut. “We have a Belgium horse drawn trolley Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. And then at 11 a.m. Saturday we have Santa arriving by icebreaker along the river. He’ll give the children a treat. At 7 p.m. on Saturday, we light the Christmas tree and have carol singing in Victory Park, which is just over the railroad tracks on Main Street. The Lakeview Baptist Church choir is singing and there will be plenty of carol singing by everybody involved.”
With the downtown area decorated to the hilt, visitors can peruse and meander as they please, with all of the merchants open for business. As an enticement, Main Street Vermilion has created the Vermilion Christmas Walk.
“All people have to do is go into participating stores and get their special card endorsed, and then they’re eligible for a drawing for gift baskets or gift certificates,” said Main Street Vermilion volunteer Brian Crandall, whose family owns The Silly Goose. “It’s just an opportunity for people to see what Vermilion has to offer and encourages residents to get into the stores. There is no purchase required.”
Invariably, the entire weekend accomplishes two goals: First of all, if you’re a discriminating shopper looking for unique items, Harbour Town has plenty of quaint shops. Secondly, considering economic times are tight, here’s a perfect event where the family can spend time together taking in the sights without spending a dime.
“It’s just wonderful,” Chesnut said. “You have to come and see all of the natural greens we’ll be hanging all over. It’s truly a historical Christmas in downtown Vermilion. You can walk with an ice cream cone or a piece of candy or hot chocolate or buy a pie to take home. It’s great for the small children, and it’s just a great kickoff to the Christmas season.”