For many children of the Region, the most exciting part of the holiday season is the moment when Santa finally appears at the end of the parade of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Holiday Celebration. On Saturday, the holiday spirit filled the streets of downtown Chesterton as thousands joined together to celebrate the start of the holiday season and as children flooded the streets, eager to get a look at their holiday hero.
A long-time tradition for many residents of Chesterton and the surrounding areas, the Hometown Holiday Celebration brings smiles to the thousands of attendees each year.
“It’s awesome for a small town to have such a huge outpouring of love for the community,” Maura Durham, President of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, said. “It feels really good. [This event] is a good way for us to kick off the holidays, small-business style. It’s an exciting time for our town.”
“This is a great event because it’s the community coming together,” Beth Luncsford, Marketing Director of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, said. “These are all local businesses within the community, and this event is really about celebrating the holidays, family time, and making memories.”
The celebration offered something for everyone at its Hometown Holiday Outdoor Market. Unique gifts, delicious food, and specialty items were available for purchase at the decorated booths.
“Each of the small businesses have their own personality, and that’s what makes Duneland special,” Durham said.
Other local businesses participated in Duneland’s Retail Open House, a shopping and dining tour coordinated by the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. The tour offered residents a taste of the dining options with the various food and drink specials offered as well as get a head start on their holiday shopping with product sales at the many participating small businesses.
“The Chamber tries to get business to come to our areas,” Luncsford said. “For downtown Chesterton, this is Small Business Saturday, so we wanted to bring as many people as we could to downtown Chesterton to bring them to our shops. There are so many good shops here that people don’t know about. We want to get our businesses involved in our community. It’s all about building community and intermingling business and community together.”
Scott Kramer, owner and operator of the family-owned business A Spice Above of Crown Point, served his all-natural, gourmet dips from his lighted booth at the outdoor market. Kramer appreciated this year’s outstanding turnout and festive atmosphere.
“Chesterton Market is the best in the area,” Kramer said. “I’ve done all of them, and this is the only one I still do. We’ve met some really great people, and I look forward to this market for many years to come.”
Patrons were invited to join in complementary horse-drawn carriage rides. Provided by La Porte County Draft Horse Association, the carriages took riders on a stroll through the downtown area.
As night fell across downtown Chesterton, the crowds made their way to Thomas Centennial Park to witness the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Children of the Region were encouraged to enter the essay contest held by the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. For his essay of his favorite holiday memory, this year’s winner received a $50 gift card, the opportunity to conduct the fifth annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, and a limousine ride in the Twilight Christmas Parade as the Grand Marshal.
“We had the biggest parade we ever had,” Luncsford said. “We had 57 floats. Everyone has really stepped it up with the lights and the decorations.”
Children of all ages cheered in excitement with their families as the parade concluded with Santa appearing atop a firetruck. After the parade, families were welcomed into Santa’s house for a special meet-and-greet with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
“A big thank you to our sponsors and the town departments who really put in a lot of extra time and effort to get the town ready to invite so many of our residents and our tourists to come into town,” Durham said. “They did a really good job.”
For more information on the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, please visit http://www.dunelandchamber.org/.