Christmas in Kalona, after a hiatus in 2020, returned last weekend in force, with hundreds of visitors from all over Iowa and the Midwest converging in Kalona to participate in the Christmas cheer.
Tonia Poole, Director of the Kalona Area Chamber of Commerce said Kalona played host to families from the Quad Cities, Grinnell, Washington, Waterloo and even Omaha and Minnesota.
“We had over 400 children in town collecting treats for their stockings, visiting with Santa, and enjoying the festivities at the YMCA,” Poole said. “The fun continued into the evening at the Historical Village where another 300 visitors came through.”
The days festivities started in downtown Kalona, where fire pits were set up on the sidewalks, hot chocolate was drunk and kids could collect treats from local businesses to put in their walking stockings. The YMCA/Community Center hosted the holiday market, where vendors sold festive wares to help shoppers get a jump on their Christmas lists.
Several local businesses and groups sponsored activities for children, including ornament making from Hills Bank, cookie decorating from CBI Bank and face painting done by students from Pathway Christian School.
The Kalona Volunteer Fire Department gave Santa a lift through town to the YMCA, where he visited with children. Hills Bank provided printed-on-demand photos as well.
In the evening, the event shifted over to the Kalona Historical Village.
“Guests were able to visit with historian Mike Zahs and view the displays throughout the Village, particularly the 200 nativity sets that are set out for the Holidays,” Poole said. “Music from carolers and musicians was well-received, a new addition that we hope to repeat next year.”
The Christmas Tree Walk, a revived Kalona tradition, was also successful, with about 15 local businesses and groups decorating unique trees. A vote was taken for favorite tree, with Reliable Tire taking first prize with their tree made entirely out of tires. A close second was the City of Kalona, who set up the largest tree on the grounds, almost as tall as the depot building it sat in front of. Second runner-up in the tree competition was Hillcrest Academy and a tie for third runner-up was Graber Heating & Air and Fresh!
The Chamber of Commerce will continue to have Kalona ornaments for sale through Christmas. They can be purchased at the office Mon-Sat, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The committee that organized Christmas in Kalona included Olivia Kahler, Krista Hershberger, Nancy Roth, Jan Peterseim, Jeremy Hassman and Ron Slechta.
Gold level sponsors included Hershberger Enterprises, AllenMitchell, Hills Bank, CBI Bank and KCTC. Silver level sponsors included Beatty & Peterseim Funeral Homes, The News, and the City of Kalona. Bronze level sponsors included Kalona Coffee House, Stitch 'N Sew Cottage, Iowa Family Counseling, Kalona Realty, Kalona Chocolates, JW’s Foods and Kalona Sales Barn.
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