Christmas beats in the heart of Charleston


Jason Howell

Charleston Boy Scouts road chestnuts over an open fire during Christmas in the Heart of Charleston on Saturday on the Square.

Tony Komada

Mackenzie Freund, City Editor

Chestnuts were roasted over an open fire while Santa Claus was pulled around the square during the Christmas in the Heart of Charleston event Saturday in the Charleston Square.

The Christmas in the Heart of Charleston has been around for over 20 years and each year it seems to be bigger.

Dawn Brazzell, a Charleston resident, said she has been going to the event for about five years and each year she thinks it is bigger and better each year.

Her daughter, Lainey Brazzell, 7, said her favorite part was seeing Santa and asking him for new earrings.

Dawn Brazzell said she thinks it is a great event put on by the community.

“I just love that we live in a community that provides something like this that is just family friendly,” Dawn Brazzell said. “It’s free so it’s open to everybody and it’s a way to bring everybody together.”

Dawn Brazzell said they meet up with friends and the kids get to see friends from school during the event.

Along with seeing different people they know, children and their families were able to see characters from Frozen and a couple of elves.

Lainey Brazzell said she was excited to see Olaf because he is her favorite character. She said the line she likes the most is when Olaf says, “watch out for my butt.”

People from Grand Ball Costumes were dressed up as Christmas characters and marched in the Parade that started the event.

Charleston Mayor Brandon Combs said he has been going to the event for about five or six years and the parade is a little bigger this year than it has in the past.

“Normally there is maybe 10 or so entries and they said there are 20 plus so that’s definitely a different thing,” Combs said.

Combs also said that this year he also was judging the parade entries with Eastern President David Glassman.

Combs said the parade is smaller than the Homecoming parade because it is around the square.

The parade consisted of different city businesses like First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Central Illinois, and costume characters walking around and waving at the kids.

Kaila Alvarado, a freshman communication disorders and sciences major, said she liked the parade and what it included.

“I like that they made it kind of like a family event,” Alvarado said. “They gave candy out to the kids and they had horses and other stuff.”

Combs said his favorite part of the seeing the kids because he thinks the event is for the kids.

“I get to see a lot of different people but it’s basically for the kids,” Combs said. “Having three younger kids, it’s a big deal.”

Combs said his kids look forward to the event each year.

Some of the businesses were also throwing candy and passing out other items during the parade.

Santa was pulled through the parade in his sleigh and dropped off at City Hall.

Combs said the big attraction for his kids is seeing Santa.

Along with Santa being in City Hall, Combs also said different businesses will be open selling food, and some places set up booths and give out hot chocolate and popcorn.

The local boy scouts troop was roasting chestnuts over an open fire, and the Salvation Army was giving away hot chocolate and popcorn across from City Hall.

Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]