Christmas Tree Walk set to impress again - Republic-Times | News

Christmas Tree Walk set to impress again

By on December 6, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Pictured, from left, Dave Dudley and Brian Offerman put the finishing touches on one of the trees on display at this year’s Christmas Tree Walk at The Beacon, located at 718 N. Market Street in Waterloo. (Sean McGowan photo)

Participants funneled into The Beacon in Waterloo late Monday evening to put the finishing touches on their trees, anticipating another massive crowd for the annual Christmas Tree Walk.

Trees were being decorated to the theme of “A Few of My Favorite Things” to go along with many other forms of entertainment that will fill the halls of the event space. From 5-9 p.m. each night, the Christmas Tree Walk will take place Friday through Sunday.

“People are using candy canes and mistletoes, ginger bread, and other fun things,” coordinator Jan Dudley said of the businesses and organizations doing the decorating. “I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

Last year’s event drew a crowd of more than 3,000. With one less day, but as much excitement, Dudley said she anticipates even more in attendance this year.

“I’m hoping we continue to grow,” she said. 

Dudley said the reason for shortening the event by a day is that First Baptist Church of Waterloo is losing part of The Beacon to renovations, as the back wing of the building is undergoing construction to add more childrens spaces. The trees on display will be in the recently completed community space this year.

In addition to the tree display, refreshments including cookies, hot cocoa and coffee will be available. The Clavinova Festival returns at 5 p.m. Saturday night, during which students from across the state perform. At the end of the night, a winner will be chosen to receive a free Clavinova.

Also making a comeback is the St. Louis Lionel Railroad Club, with its 20-foot display village that will be there every night of the event. Dudley said the model train setup has been a major draw in previous years.

“That’s really interesting because it’s multiple levels of trains going and I’m pretty sure it’s done in a Christmas display,” she said.

Additional live entertainment will come from the Monroe County Home School Choir, Concord Presbyterian Church Choir and Brian McKelvey with an acoustic set sing-along. First Baptist Church of Waterloo’s hand bell choir will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday.

In previous years, the Christmas Tree Walk would include a living nativity, but this year First Baptist Church of Columbia will be doing one instead. Santa will be coming back for children to share their Christmas lists and Mrs. Claus will again read to children.

Instead of an elf-themed room, kids have put together a gingerbread room with cutout gingerbread men plastered along the walls. The kids can also do make-and-take crafts during the walk.

“That’s kind of a draw. The kids can say, ‘mom, come and see what I did,’” Dudley said. “(The gingerbread men) are dancing down the wall.”

Another added bonus for this year is a forest-like setup at the entrance to The Beacon.

“It’s going to be a winter forest. That’s been a project in the long-term works,” Dudley said.

To get to this year’s event, people are encouraged to park at the First Baptist Church building at 320 Covington Drive and take the shuttle to The Beacon. Dudley said there will be a service at 10 a.m. Sunday at First Baptist to thank volunteers and decorators. 

For more information, contact Dudley at 618-340-2037.

“My favorite thing about the event every year is neighbors coming out and enjoying their time together,” Dudley said.

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years.