BETHALTO —The Bethalto Spirit Group will celebrate a quarter century of Victorian Christmas Walks this December when the downtown area plays host to the annual event from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.
Characters in period costumes will stroll the streets and man decorated venues as refreshment vendors line the sidewalks, providing an ample selection of snacks for visitors. The event is free and features activities for all ages.
“The Christmas Walk will feature lots of goodies like popcorn, roasted chestnuts, cookies, coffee, cider, pretzels, provided by various businesses and local civic organizations,” Bethalto Spirit Board President Andy Augustine said. “There are also several venues where children can interactively participate like Santa’s Workshop, where toys can be constructed, and pictures with Father Christmas at the Bethalto Spirit Building. Families can ride the horse-drawn carriages, stroll through the streets and warm up to the fire bins or sit a spell and be entertained by various musical performers at venues along the walk.”
The Christmas Walk actually kicks off with a Christmas concert, performed by the Bethalto Spirit Community Choir and Orchestra at 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on South Moreland Road. This year, the choir will celebrate the Christmas Walk’s 25th anniversary by reprising some of the most popular musical selections from the past 25 years, as well as adding a few new wrinkles. Past directors and soloists have been invited back to perform their original numbers, and the Civic Memorial High School Chorus and a children’s choir will be featured as guest performers. The concert will also feature a musical video tribute to first responders: police, fire, EMS, paramedics and 911 dispatchers, many of whom will be honored on stage.
“The concert is always a popular feature of the Christmas Walk,” Director Jeff Allsman said. “On most occasions, all the seats are filled. Some folks arrive an hour before the concert to secure their seat. With the return of some of our past singers and directors, this year’s concert should provide the audience an opportunity to reconnect with some of the choir and orchestra’s favorite moments from the past 25 years. The musical selections vary in style and all share the message of Christmas. Hopefully each audience member will find something from the concert that they enjoy and that provides them with Christmas cheer.
“Last year our musical video salute to military members was a special moment,” Allsman said. “It was a very moving experience for our audience. We anticipate that our tribute to first responders will be equally passionate. The work they do under tremendously stressful situations is incredible. Our fire department consists of all volunteers and when they’re dispatched, they drop whatever they’re doing and respond. They also serve as EMTs and paramedics. And it’s been a tough couple of years for law enforcement officers in general. Fortunately, our community hasn’t been directly impacted by situations we’ve seen in the news. Maybe that says something about our police department’s work and reputation in the community. At any rate, we want to thank all of them for their efforts to keep our community safe and peaceful.”
“There’s a lot of volunteer work that goes on behind the scenes,” Augustine said. “We have had, and continue to have, some great volunteers who’ve contributed their efforts to allow us to present the Christmas Walk for 25 years. This is a great event for the community.”