Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Downtown's annual Christmas Open House is a joy for children, parents and merchants

Children and parents waited at the wall along the tracks for Santa's arrival by R.J. Corman Railroad train.
Story and photos by Jill Novak
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
Click on an image to view a larger version.

The sun and spirits were bright Saturday, as children and parents eagerly awaited the arrival of Santa Claus at Midway’s annual Christmas Open House.

Santa, who arrived by train at 11 a.m., greeted the spectators as they gathered around the tracks dividing Main Street. “Jingle Bells” echoed throughout downtown, as the crowd clapped and cheered, joining to sing Christmas carols.

Once Santa exited the caboose, parents and children were allowed to take self-guided tours of the train and take family pictures.

For Ben and Sheena Roller and their daughter Olivia, below, Santa is the best part about coming to the open house.

“This is our second year coming and we had so much fun getting to ride on the train with Santa,” Ben Roller said.

For Midway resident Ken McDaniel, who said he looks forward to bringing his family to the open house every year, “The best part is the train, the kids really like the train.”

More excitement took place at Santa’s Workshop, which was located in the Midway Auction House at the low end of Gratz Street. Aside from eating cookies and making crafts with elves, children lined up outside the door to get a chance to tell Santa what was on their Christmas list. Flashes of light filled the room as proud parents took pictures of their kids sitting on Santa’s lap.

For the merchants of Midway, the open house was a chance to show off their selections and talents. Scott Skidmore, owner of the Midway Whistlestop, showcased his handcrafted Christmas ornaments by setting up tables in front of his store where people could purchase the items and even have them engraved. “We’ve been doing craft shows for about 10 years and this is our first year at the open house,” said Skidmore.

Walking through downtown, people also lined up for carriage rides and all the homemade kettle corn they could eat.

Midway resident Sarah Wilson and her daughter Emily said they enjoyed their first trip to the open house and will definitely be back next year.

“We went shopping and got an ornament to commemorate Emily’s first trip,” said Wilson, below, “and we’re just having a great day walking around and seeing our friends.”

Even after the carriage rides stopped at 3 p.m., people continued to shop and eat at their favorite restaurants as they enjoyed the crisp, sunny weather.

Mayor Tom Bozarth declared this year’s Christmas Open House a success and a “Chamber of Commerce Day in Midway, with the weather.” He singled out the Midway Merchants Association president, a city council member who runs the 815 Prime restaurant, and the owner of the Celtic Trends store for credit: “Kenny Smith, Grayson Vandegrift and Claire Parisol had things well organized.”

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