It’s this weekend! Seriously—This is what amounts to the citywide weekend that kicks off the Christmas season. It’s always the first weekend in December, and I highly recommend checking it out. Particularly if you live in Columbia and you’re looking for something Christmassy to do. (Besides going to “the mall.”)
Here’s the schedule. I’m providing some pictures so you can see where these various events are going to take place.
And no, nobody’s paying me to do this. (Though donations would be appreciated! Ha ha ha.)
Thursday, Dec. 3 (today!)------------------
The Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting
Mayor Landwehr will be officially turning on the lights of the big Christmas tree at the north end of Bolivar Street. (If you don’t know Jeff City very well, this is just one block north of Paddy Malone’s, the former Pat’s Place, which is on West Main just west of the state Capitol). The tree’s in Rotary Park, a small, new park at the north end of Bolivar overlooking the river and the train tracks, at the place where the old Missouri River Bridge used to enter the town. I understand there will be hot cocoa on hand, and plenty of other stuff to help get you in a festive mood. (Hey, at the very least, you can head over to Paddy Malone’s afterward for some Christmas Cheer!)
Friday, Dec. 4 (tomorrow!)----------------
“Behind the Scenes” tour of the Missouri Capitol Museum
I don’t know much about this event, to be honest, but I think I’m gonna go. If you haven’t been to visit our state capitol, you really should. First, for the awesome architecture. Second, for the remarkable large collection of fine art. Third, for the large history museum on the first floor. This is no ordinary state capitol. This should be a fun tour. For more info, call 573-751-4127.
Cole County Historical Society Museum
The CCHS museum will be open as part of the ongoing festival events—this is another treasure of the city that often gets overlooked. I encourage you to drop in and check out their displays. Hint: At the very very least, as you’re exploring downtown Jeff City Friday night, the museum is a great thing to do when you’re ready to step in out of the cold. (Read on.)
“Living Windows” in Downtown Jefferson City
This is an annual tradition, which amounts to a combination street festival–sales event–stationary parade. It’s a wonderful partnership of the downtown shops and local civic and arts groups. Local choirs and other musicians will be performing; hot cocoa, cider, and other goodies will be available; and (most famously) the shop windows will be occupied by folks (including many children) acting out Christmassy scenes, “live.” So you stroll around, enjoy the cultural activities, get some yummy stuff to eat, do a little shopping, check out the Cole Co. Historical Society Museum, and go on the a tour of the Governor’s Mansion. (Read on.)
Governor’s Mansion Tours
We haven’t done this for a while. I think Bob Holden was the governor when we last went! (Ahem!) Anyway . . . this is definitely a scene to check out: The mansion (north on Madison St.—just ask anyone if you have trouble finding it) is decorated for the season. Beautifully. There is often a line (so dress warmly). Carolers (from local schools) are there singing in the entryway. The staff and guards are usually dressed in Christmassy gear. And the governor and first lady are usually there to shake hands and greet people. You basically just walk through the mansion. It’s a great way for the governor to generously share this private residence—which belongs to the people—with the people. It is a magnificent building, of which we all deserve to be proud. If you haven’t ever stepped foot in it, this is a wonderful opportunity to do so. (Yeah, and it’s free.)
Saturday, Dec. 5-------------------------
9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
This is the annual Christmas Advent celebration of the Central United Church of Christ (earlier called the Deutsche Evangelische Central Gemeinde—Central German Evangelical Church), the historic epicenter of the Old Munichburg neighborhood. Yes, I’m a member of this church, so I’m a little biased. But I want to make it clear that this event isn’t at all just for the UCC crowd—it’s for everyone who wants to celebrate Christmas. The UCC is a United and Uniting Church, and all are welcome.
There’s a short service at 11 a.m., which is heavy on the music, light on the preachin’, and will please every kind of Christian (but particularly if you have a German heritage); and of course the sanctuary is all duded up for the holiday. Just sitting in there will make you feel happy. They usually have someone there to read the famous Christmas passages from the Gospel of Luke in German, and that's really cool to hear.
After the service, around noon, is a church supper in the gymnasium. (Of course, if you can’t make it to the service, they’d still like to serve you the lunch!) The menu is Burger’s ham (yep, from Moniteau County), Irma Bagnull’s famous calico beans, cole slaw, hashbrown potato casserole, rolls, mulled cider, coffee, and tea. Cost is $7 for adults, $3 for kids 4–13.
Additionally . . . the women of Central Church will be having a bake sale—this alone makes Christkindelfest the place to be: German Christmas cookies and other baked items, candy, stollen, tea rings, jams, canned items, and beverage dry mixes. Oh, boy!
Finally, the greatly anticipated book Breweries and Saloons in Jefferson City, Missouri will be available for sale by the Old Munichburg Association. The book traces the history of beer in Jeff City, particularly as an aspect of German immigrant culture. It’s an entertaining blend of nostalgic memories and historical scholarship and draws from oral history, local breweriana collections, old German-language newspapers, and much more. A great gift idea for someone you know who appreciates a "tall frosty one"!
Governor’s Mansion Tours
See the list above under “Friday” for this. If you missed it Friday night, you can still visit on Saturday afternoon!
Through downtown Jefferson City. Lots of local bands, church groups, youth organizations, and other contingents will participate. This is always a popular and photogenic event.
Jefferson City Cantorum Christmas Concert
This is the annual Christmas concert of Jefferson City’s long-running local chorale, at the Miller Performing Arts Center. Eeeeeeven if you’re not a big fan of choral music, you gotta admit that Christmastime is an exception: We ALL love to hear choirs at Christmas. The theme this year is “Joyfully We Sing,” and you can bet they’ve got the spirit!