Saturday night, many smiles on Broadway Street were illuminated by the Chase County Courthouse Christmas lights.

Friday and Saturday, Strong City and Cottonwood Falls hosted the annual Chase County Christmas celebration, filling the county with rich foods, “grateful” music, bountiful gifts and holiday cheer.

Friday night was Kid’s Night Before Christmas Out, where families roasted hot dogs and marshmallows around a fire. There, the antique caboose was lit, and the 1900 Theater offered movies and toys. Later that night, musicians shared songs of gratitude at Prairie PastTimes.

“It has been really good,” Chamber of Commerce member Kelly Glanville said. “We were very lucky because we had a lot of great weather, so that always helps.”

Saturday morning, Prairie PastTimes continued the spirit and opened its doors to welcome shoppers, crafters and musicians. Various musical performances and an ornament-making activity were hosted there.

Prairie PastTimes was one of many downtown stores involved in the day’s celebrations. To give a taste of a fraction of Saturday’s activities, Keller Feed and Wine served “Elf” (the movie) themed pancakes; an arts and crafts fair colored St. Anthony’s Hall; and a silent auction with 82 baskets captivated bidders.

The silent auction included donations from Chase and Lyon counties’ brick-and-mortar businesses, as well as from creative individuals wanting to give back to the community. In addition, it is “a good way for [those individuals] to advertise for themselves, because sometimes people don’t realize what talent we have in our community, too,” Glanville said.

“There’s a lot of good in that our communities are connected and can give and share with each other,” Emporian Tim Lewis said.

One highlight of the evening was cowboy Santa Claus visiting the children in the courthouse.

“When I was little, we just had Santa, and now we’ve made it Cowboy Santa, since we’re such a small county, and a lot of people in our county are ranchers and farmers,” Kelly Glanville’s daughter Kinslea said. “I just like seeing the little kids’ faces, because I know when I was little, I know that I was a shy kid, and I knew I liked [visiting Santa], but I was afraid, so I think it’s super sweet and kind to see their faces light up when they see him.”

After more than a day’s worth of holiday activities, the community ceased its bustling and gathered along Broadway Street for the lighting of the courthouse and the parade. Kinslea Glanville watched the bank clock in order to signal to the person who turned the lights on at 7 p.m. sharp.

“I thought the lights were beautiful,” Emporian Rebeca Herrera said. “I felt that the parade was very nicely done … You could tell that they were very well prepared for this.”

“Everyone came out to see the parade, and it seemed like that was something they really believed in, and it helped me believe in it, too,” Lewis said.

Glanville said she feels the event enhances community pride. She was happy to see both new families and multigenerational families participating in these Chase County traditions.

“I’ve always grown up around it, so it’s common for me now,” Kinslea Glanville said. “Every year, it’s just the day that a lot of people look forward to, because it’s our county tradition.”

The chamber would like to thank its board, volunteers, donors and all participants for making the day a huge success.

“In small towns, holidays are so much bigger,” Herrera said. “The whole community becomes a family.”

CONTEST WINNERS

King of the Prairie Tallest Big Bluestem

Youth

1st place – Lily Hancock 9’1”

2nd place – Caleb Stout 8’ 5 ¾”

3rd place – Aiden Eiden 7’3”

Adult

1st place – Brady Stout 8’ 1 ½”

Symphony in the Flint Hills Youth Art (13-18 years of age)

Overall winner and Best of Show – Tanner Koch – Stone & Wood Sculpture, Chase County High School

2nd place – Dewey Hayden – Colored Pencil Drawing, Cheney High School

3rd place – Joselle Courchaine – Acrylic Painting, Cheney High School

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