The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

City celebrates holiday season

Saturday, the holiday spirit was in full effect thanks to a variety of Charleston businesses.

“Christmas in the Heart of Charleston,” an annual celebration in the square, once again brought hundreds of citizens downtown as local businesses treated them to cookies, sales and unique displays in their store windows.

The event began at 6 p.m. with a parade that traveled around the courthouse. At the head of the parade was Santa who, after the parade route was over, went to the Charleston Transitional Facility’s administrative office on Jackson Avenue to meet and take pictures with children.

Dave the math dog

Entertaining the children and their parents in line was Dave the math dog.

Dave, who just two weeks ago was on the Dave Letterman show, can add, subtract, multiply, divide, do square roots, exponents and algebra. In addition, he knows how old he is, what day he was born, can count change, knows what day of the week it is, knows sign language and can count Roman numerals, said owner Frank Ferris.

Ferris said that his wife, Debbie, found out that Dave had the ability to count when she was watching the Discovery channel.

“The lady on the Discovery channel said that people don’t realize what animals understand about humans,” Ferris said.

Debbie then asked Dave how many fingers she was holding up. Dave barked. Debbie then put a treat in her hand, asked again, and Dave hit her hand with his paw the number of times to correspond with the number of fingers she had held up. When Dave is done, he puts his paw on the ground.

Ferris demonstrated. Megan Morrison, junior art major, wrote a problem on a white erase board: the square root of 144.

Dave hit his owner’s hand 12 times.

Dave also knows what time it is and Ferris demonstrated this as well. The time was 7:50. Ferris asked his dog, to the nearest hour, what time is was. Dave hit Ferris’ hand 8 times. Ferris then told him that it wasn’t quite 8 and asked him how many minutes until 8 it was. Dave hit his owner’s hand 10 times.

“Was he close?” Ferris asked.

Amazingly, Dave did not see the time, was not told the time and no clocks were in sight.

Live action windows

Another big draw was the variety of businesses on the square that had “live action windows” instead of artificial displays. The displays featured real people performing to entertain onlookers.

Alpha Psi Omega theatre fraternity did a six to seven minute rendition of “Hello Dali” in the window of The Uptowner, said Garin Jones, senior theatre major. The rendition was repeated several times.

Twelve-year-old harpist Hannah Drake played in the window of Marianne’s. She played a mixture of holiday tunes and regular tunes for a total of eight songs. The holiday tunes included “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “What Child Is This,” Drake said.

She said she began practicing for those tunes at the beginning of October and this is approximately her 37th performance. Drake attends Charleston High School.

Karate USA had an open house during the festivities as well to honor the graduation of two provisional black belts in addition to their live action display, said owner Mitch Saret.

He said about 10 to 15 students rotated between their two windows, performing practice sets – a blocking set, a kicking set and a punching set.

In the window of Gary Hawker & Associates was a mock family from the1840s celebrating Christmas by putting ornaments on a bare tree. The display was put on by The Lincoln Log Cabin.

“We’re a part of the community so we like to come out to these activities as well,” said second manager Matthew Mittelstaedt.

The biggest crowd was outside Ruffalo Cody’s where dancers from the Jacqueline Bennett Dance Center performed about 10 or 11 different dance sets from “The Nutcracker.” A total of 23 dancers were used, according to owner Jacqueline Bennett.

Bennett compared the dancers with athletes. Some people are talented when it comes to sports and excel, she said. These dancers are talented when it comes to theatre and performing “The Nutcracker” was their means of excelling.

She said that the dancers had been practicing this particular routine about two to four times a week since the beginning of October.


The “live action windows” weren’t the only draw.

Children could take carriage rides around the courthouse as well as pet real reindeer.

Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, located in Rantoul, provided two reindeer, one of which was 13 and the other which was five or six, said the owner’s daughter, Lacey Hardy.

Hardy explained how they got the reindeer.

“We had a family-run business, and we needed some sort of attraction like livestock so we thought ‘we have a Christmas theme, why not do some research on reindeer?'” she said. “We figured out online that we can purchase reindeer in Alaska so we went over there and figured out how domesticated and naturally friendly these guys are so we thought, ‘why not?’

“They got there and just did great with the general public.”

Hardy said there is a total of 16 reindeer on their ranch.


Charleston Transitional Facility’s (CTF) main office had cookies, refreshments and entertainment as soon as the parade was over.

Singer Tara Dawn Parcells performed four holiday tunes: “Oh Holy Night,” “The Christmas Song,” “Merry Christmas with Love,” and “Merry Did You Know.”

Parcells said Kathie Scott, CTF’s Human Resources Director, approached her about singing for the event. Parcells and Scott attend the same church.

Parcells said she performs southern gospel concerts in the local area and she’s been singing since she was very young.

City celebrates holiday season

City celebrates holiday season

Anne Townsend, a senior family and consumer sciences major, plays with a Coles county animal shelter kitten in a window on the town square on Saturday evening. Townsend, chair of window decoratoin committe, has been working on the Christmas in the heart


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