by Caitlin Huston
Christmas carols and the sounds of horse-drawn carriages filled the town of Winamac Saturday at the annual Winter Wonderland celebration.
Put on by the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, the event featured a holiday parade, singing choirs, craft booths and an appearance by Santa. Volunteers estimated that this year’s festival had one of the largest parades and one of the largest crowds.
Angie Anspach, director of the Pulaski Chamber of Commerce, said this year’s festival was special because it was the first time the event included outdoor food booths as well as a home tour.
“It just seems to keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” Anspach said.
The chamber of commerce puts on the festival every year, Anspach said, as a way of putting Winamac on the map and drawing in out-of-town guests.
“It’s just to welcome anyone to our town,” Anspach said.
Accompanied by the high school marching band, parade participants tossed candy to the street. The parade culminated with Santa standing atop a fire engine and waving to children.
Connie Roe, secretary of the Winamac Lions club, appeared in the parade in a lion costume beside another man dressed as a lion.
“This is our first time in the parade in 10 years,” Roe said.
Roe said the club wanted to get back in the parade to make the Lions presence known in the community.
The festival also featured horse-drawn carriage rides, a gingerbread house display and local businesses with special discounts for the day.
“You can go from place to place and find something at every station,” said Judy Heater, president of the chamber.
After an appearance in the parade, ExPress Choir, made up of fourth- and fifth-graders from Eastern Pulaski Elementary, sang Christmas carols, complete with some dance moves and the traditional shout-outs during “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Mary Ann Fritz, a music teacher at Eastern Pulaski, is the choir’s director.
“We’ve been practicing since September,” she said.
The choir regularly sings at this event, Fritz said, because the members enjoy singing in front of the people who support them.
“We love to give back to the community,” she said.
Andra Kegarise of Winamac said she and her children attended the festival for the first time Saturday because of the warm weather.
“It was good,” she said.
In the booth area of the Opera House, Lynn Darda presented her handmade cards and other scrapbook materials. Darda said she had been coming to the festival for about five years.
“I work all year on all this kind of stuff,” Darda said.
Darda said the festival always drew a large crowd.
“I love it,” she said.
Though adults also joined in the activities, Heater said much of the festival was geared toward children.
“That’s what Christmas is about, really,” she said.
Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.