Downtown Plattsmouth was not only beginning to look like Christmas on Dec. 2, it absolutely looked like a holiday evening straight out of a Charles Dickens short story.
Plattsmouth Conservancy members ensured a throng of people were dressed in appropriate Victorian garb as they strolled down the sidewalks and stopped at a variety of family-fun activities.
“There were a number of costumes on the street, more this year than ever before,” said Charles Jones, executive director of Plattsmouth Main Street Association, the organization overseeing the annual Victorian Christmas on Main. “The fact the conservancy takes the time to get the costumes out is wonderful, and we appreciate the partnership we have with The Journal in storing those costumes.”
Plattsmouth High School choir members also donned the appropriate historical period attire to sing Christmas carols before the tree-lighting ceremony in front of the Cass County Museum and on the sidewalks throughout the three-hour event that started at 6 p.m.
“The event got the youth involved. We want that connection between the school and Main Street. It’s really a local event,” said DeAnne Green, chair of Victorian Christmas on Main 2017.
Attendance was an all-time high for the event. “We were extremely blessed with the weather,” Green said. “The entire street was busy on both sides.”
Jones said Ollie the Trolley was busy taking its passengers to the different activities.
All activities reported notably larger crowds. In fact, Fr. Christmas met with at least 350 children during his two- hour and 45-minutes at Plattsmouth’s Southeast Community College Learning Center.
“I was busy until about 20 minutes until 9 a.m. and children were lined up when I got there after the tree-lighting ceremony,” Fr. Christmas told The Journal. “That’s more than I’d seen at the past events. A lot of people were taking family pictures. It was well organized. People could come in and go down to Mrs. Claus’ Closet and then work their way back up.”
At Mrs. Claus’ Closet, children could choose Christmas gifts for their parents and guardians at a cost of three tickets each. Lyn Belitz worked in the closet with Jim and Alice Ulrich. She said they had a few items left. Shaw Hardware and Main Street Jewelers ordered the items.
“We had 250 items for children to choose from. We were close to doubling our numbers from last year,” said Green, who manages Main Street Jewelers owned by her parents, Kim and Russ Kathol.
While waiting for Fr. Christmas, Mrs. Claus, Geri Byrk, and Sandy Prall gave out cookies and hot chocolate donated by Hy-Vee. “It was a packed area with Fr. Christmas, cookies and hot chocolate all in the same building,” Green said.
No one had to go without cookies or hot chocolate wherever they roamed Saturday night. Shaw Hardware had a cookie decorating event and ran out of cookies, while Presbyterian Church members had many plates of sweet treats for people to enjoy at the Cass County Bank. 14U Softball Club members also sold baked goods as a fund-raiser for the team.
Hot chocolate was also available in front of DC’s Waterhole.
The kettle korn vendor Melanie Craft was very pleased with the event and told Green she would be back next year.
“All the businesses open that night were busy,” Jones said.
Mom’s Café had a record-breaking crowd, owner Mary Harrison said.
“It was fabulous. That’s all I can say. It was a huge success. The numbers were definitely up from years past. We were out of a lot of things by the end of the night. We had people coming in at 9 p.m. Everybody’s spirits were high. Everyone who came in thought it was a wonderful event,” Harrison said.
Russ Kathol said Main Street Jewelers had more sales than during any other event of the year. Green was working in the store and didn’t get out to see the success of her planning.
“We were so busy. We’ve never had our store so packed we couldn’t see the other side of the store,” she said.
Plattsmouth Pets also had an array of people coming with their furry loved ones for pictures with Santa. “He was there all day,” Jones said.
Jones added that Colour Art Studio offered a special children’s activity. “They made a plate,” he said.
Children were especially thrilled with the “reindeer in training,” donkeys from Danes and Dolls owned by Shane and Amy Kraemer in Murray.
“We’re hoping they will have the Clydesdales ready next year for the horse-drawn buggy rides,” Jones said.
Monster Hares 4-H’s petting zoo was also a hit for the third year in a row. “They brought lots of animals people could pet and learn about,” Jones said.
Of course, people waited in anticipation to learn the winner of this year’s Christmas Tree Decorating contest. Once again, Clips took first place. This year, they decorated the tree in red, white and blue and donated it to the VFW Club. “Of the nine trees decorated, seven were donated and they all went to good homes,” Jones said.
Last but never least in popularity was the return of the live nativity with members of OneLife Church in Plattsmouth.
“They told us that was the most noticed nativity they had. People would stop and look,” Green said.
With this year being Green’s first time to chair the event, she admitted it was a learning experience for her.
“The event is growing. It’s traveling by word of mouth and people are anticipating it every year.”
“It was DeAnne’s first time as a chair and she did a quite remarkable job,” Jones said.
Anyone who has a suggestion for next year’s Victorian Christmas on Main is encouraged to contact Jones or Green with the idea.