This year, 10 days of local activities, celebration and charitable giving will serve as the junction between Christmas and community in Junction City.
The events, organized by Junction City Main Street in conjunction with local organizations, are intended to epitomize the Christmas spirit, one of hope born of modest means. Still, there is nothing meager about the “10 Days of Christmas” of Downtown Junction City. Many businesses, organizations and local individuals were involved in planning the events and activities people can participate in between Nov. 26 and Dec. 5.
Terry Butler, a member of JCMS, referred to the organization’s overall vision statement, “Junction City Main Street, gateway to a thriving downtown and community,” in describing the group’s intention in the endeavor.
“We want to accomplish this by partnering with our community and working in harmony for the betterment of Junction City and Geary County,” she said.
Some events on the schedule for the Ten Days of Christmas may look familiar. “Hometown Christmas” for instance, has occurred annually on the first Friday in December since its onset in 2017.
Phyllis Fitzgerald, former Junction City Mayor and currently the executive director of the Society of the First Infantry Division, planned the first Hometown Christmas to provide more for the community.
“We have such a wonderful community,” she said. “It’s just a way to give back and to bring some of that hometown holiday spirit.”
In recent years, the carriage rides have stood out as a crowd favorite. The rides start from the Bartell Place Senior Residence at 614 N. Washington St. and will give riders a chance to see the new Christmas lights put up downtown. This year, the first Friday of the month falls on Dec. 3 and will include carriage rides, photo opportunities with the Grinch and Buddy the Elf, a show by the ASTRA Program at the C.L Hoover Opera House, an art exhibit, hot cocoa and more.
Ice sculptures are a new edition this year. Fitzgerald said there will be one already completed and the other will be finished live on Seventh Street throughout the evening of Dec. 3.
On Nov. 28, day three of 10, people can see the moves, “White Christmas” and “A Christmas Story” at the opera house. Before that, Junction City CrossFit will host a Holiday Fun Run directly before the 26th annual Christmas Parade on Nov. 26.
Christina Spencer, co-owner of the gym, encourages all speeds to participate. She hopes that the run will be joyful and open its doors to those who may not have thought themselves the CrossFit type.
“Just seeing tons of people running or walking down the street in their Santa hats just sounds fun,” she said. “My parents do CrossFit and they’re 63 years old. We have a few others that are in their late 50s, early 60s that train. And then we also offer CrossFit kids where we have those as young as 7 or 8 doing CrossFit. So maybe this fun run being open to a greater demographic will bring a kind of a different image.”
The sentiment is mutual among downtown businesses looking to reach potential customers during this season. On the Thursday before Hometown Christmas, many shops will remain open late and offer special deals.
On Nov. 27, people can participate in “Small Business Saturday Bingo.” Shoppers can pick up Bingo cards at the participating businesses, Exchange Bank or online and fill them out as they peruse the local establishments. Once they have Bingo, they can return the cards to the bank night depository to be considered for a variety of prizes. Winners will be drawn at random, but there are other opportunities to be a winner during the 10 days as well.
There is an ongoing silent auction at the Geary County Historical Museum to bid on and win Christmas Trees decorated by local organizations. Heather Hagedorn, director and curator of the museum, is excited for the outcome of the Festival of Trees.
“It was awesome how many organizations and businesses and people were excited to decorate and donate the trees that we’re now auctioning,” she said. “That’s a huge amount of time and resources they’re putting into it just to benefit us.”
Those interested in bidding will also have the opportunity to learn local history, as the trees are displayed throughout the museum.
Many other organizations will also participate in the event. Local Churches are collaborating on a theatrical recounting of Christ’s birth, called “Take a Walk to Bethlehem,” in Heritage Park on Dec. 1. The First Presbyterian Church will have a live nativity. The I.C.A.R.E organization will have donation boxes out in local businesses to collect children’s book donations. There will also be voting boxes set up at businesses to vote on gingerbread houses locally designed and displayed at the Bartell House on the corner of Sixth and Washington Streets.
Information on all events can be found in pamphlets locally, the Junction City Main Street Facebook page and the Junction City Chamber of Commerce website at junctioncitychamber.org.
The original article included an incorrect date for "Hometown Christmas." The correct date for the event is Dec. 3.