There’s been talk in years past about Hometown Christmas, Andover’s annual holiday celebration, being moved out of Central Park and into a new location.
But that just wouldn’t make sense now. A new city hall opened in Central Park earlier this year, creating a trifecta of festival facilities. There’s plenty of parking and room for walking.
“I just don’t see it being anywhere else beside Central Park from now on,” said library director Carol Wohlford, a longtime member of the Hometown Christmas committee.
Hometown Christmas will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8. Here’s a breakdown of what’s going in each building.
· Santa Claus will be in City Hall. Children will be able to visit with him and get their pictures taken for free. This year, they will also be given a pencil and paper to make lists while they are waiting in line.
· Next door at the Andover Public Library will be the cookie decorating and Mrs. Claus.
· Across the street at the Central Park Lodge will be most of the other action – live music performances, children’s crafts, horse-drawn wagon rides, s’mores by the fire pit, warm drinks and the annual chili cook-off.
The chili cook-off is probably the most popular event for the adults. A $2 tasting kit allows you to sample all the chilis and vote for your favorite.The winner receives $75 in "Chamber Bucks," which encourage the money to be spent in the Andover community. Second place gets $50; third place receives $25.
Susan Renner from the Hometown Christmas committee will be taking entries for the chili cook-off until Dec. 5. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Renner is passionate about Hometown Christmas and its cause, which is benefitting Caring and Sharing.
“I don’t think everyone realizes Hometown Christmas is about our community,” Renner said. “Caring and Sharing is helping people here. It’s not going to Sedgwick County. It’s not going to El Dorado. It’s staying right here. And that’s important to me.”
Most of the events at Hometown Christmas are free, although those attending are encouraged to bring canned food or an unopened gift to benefit Caring and Sharing.
“I would like to see the donations grow,” Wohlford said. “But basically I just want everyone who wants to come, to come. It’s just simple, inexpensive, old-fashioned fun.”
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Adam Knapp is Editor-in-Chief of the Andover American. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.