Hometown Christmas returning to Paullina

Students at Zion-St. John Lutheran School in Paullina will again re-enact the birth of Jesus Christ during the chamber of commerce’s upcoming Hometown Christmas festival. The Nativity scene will take place downtown by Paullina Hardware.

PAULLINA—Christmas cheer is returning in full force to Paullina this year.

The chamber of commerce is putting on its annual Hometown Christmas celebration Friday-Saturday, Dec. 3-4.

Unlike last year’s Hometown Christmas event — during which festivalgoers stayed in their vehicles to take in the sights — this year’s activities can be done in person.

However, chamber board member Brenda Ebel Kruse said the drive-thru event had such a positive reception that this year’s iteration will accommodate people who wish to stay in their cars.

“We’re going to go back to two years ago, where we had people downtown and the Living Windows where you can walk up and wander around and be part of it, but then also still have our scavenger hunt-type light display and tour where the people can drive around town and enjoy some of the displays,” Ebel Kruse said. “We’re going to have both parts of it this year.”

A Hometown Christmas happening that made its debut in 2019 is returning this year after being skipped in 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic gathering restrictions: the Jingle & Mingle Holiday Cocktail Party.

Set for 6-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, at the American Legion Hall, the theme for the party is “Plaid Tidings,” and costs $20 for advance tickets or $25 at the door. Tickets let participants sample three holiday craft cocktails, followed by a full-sized drink of their choice.

A bonus party activity that will be new this year is a team trivia competition that will begin at 8 p.m. The fact-filled face-off will accommodate teams of six people with a $200 entry fee per team. That price includes six Jingle & Mingle tickets, a platter of pulled pork sliders and chips.

Kruse said a lot of people ended up staying to chat with each other after the 2019 Jingle & Mingle, which is how the chamber members came up with the idea of an additional activity.

“They know it’s a popular thing for people to compete on how much they know, and I think we’ve had good response already from that,” she said. “That will be a nice little addition to extend that evening a bit.”

Proceeds from the cocktail party and trivia night will be donated to the Paullina Ambulance Service. Tickets are available for purchase at Security State Bank in Paullina or by messaging the Paullina Festival of Trees Facebook page.

The majority of the Hometown Christmas fun is planned for Dec. 4, starting with a pancake breakfast with Santa’s elves 9-11 a.m. at the Laue Room followed by a story time and crafts. The Festival of Trees brunch will take place at 11 a.m. at the Legion building.

As the sky darkens later in the afternoon, the Christmas lights strung up around the community will shine all the brighter for the holiday lights contest, tour and scavenger hunt.

Other evening offerings will include horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday music, s’mores, hot cocoa, games, free popcorn from Wonderland Theater and a chili feed fundraiser courtesy of the Paullina Fire Department. The theater plans on presenting a family-friendly movie each night — Kruse said the hope is to show “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

“It’ll be fun to walk around and see or you can just drive around,” Kruse said. “Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and everyone can get out, walk around and enjoy it.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus also will be stationed at Werkmeister Workshop on Main Street to greet kids and take their wish list requests.

The Living Windows scenes also are set to play out in the evening. The acting displays are a Paullina Christmas tradition that date back about 40 years ago and involve residents re-enacting holiday scenes in downtown business storefront windows.

“We just thought that was a great thing to bring back somehow,” Kruse said.

Here is the Hometown Christmas event lineup for Friday, Dec. 3:

  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Festival of Trees open house, American Legion Hall.
  • 6-10 p.m. Jingle & Mingle Holiday Cocktail Party and Trivia Battle, American Legion Hall.
  • 7:30-9 p.m. Family-friendly holiday movie, Wonderland Theater.

The festivities set for Saturday, Dec. 4, are as follows:

  • 9-11 a.m. Pancake Breakfast with Elves, Laue Room at Paullina City Hall, with story time, crafts and cookie decorating sponsored by ISB Insurance.
  • 10 a.m. Festival of Trees brunch, American Legion Hall.
  • 4:30-7:30 p.m. $1 horse-drawn carriage rides from the downtown gazebo.
  • 4:30-9:30 p.m. Holiday music playing, downtown.
  • 5-6:30 p.m. S’mores, hot cocoa and games, downtown gazebo.
  • 5-6:30 p.m. Free popcorn, Wonderland Theater.
  • 5-7 p.m. Paullina Fire Department chili feed fundraiser, Laue Room at Paullina City Hall.
  • 5-7 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus visit, Werkmeister Workshop.
  • 6-7 p.m. Live Nativity scene by Zion-St. John Lutheran School, Paullina Hardware.
  • 6-7 p.m. Living Windows holiday scenes, downtown businesses.
  • 7:30-9 p.m. Family-friendly holiday movie, Wonderland Theater.
  • 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Ugly Sweater Contest and bar crawl, Junior’s Bar & Grill.

This story was first published in the Nov. 20, 2021, print edition of The South O'Brien Sun.