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Area communities come to 'light' for Christmas
Small town traditions invite holiday spirit
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City of Larned workers prepped and decorated this live Christmas tree from Delp Tree Farm in St. John in time for the city’s lighting ceremony Friday, Dec. 6.

For those who didn’t get their fill of Christmas lights, parades and visits from Santa last weekend, here’s some good news. There’s more fun to be had over the next two weeks just a short drive away. Here’s where to go and what to expect:


Friday night, Dec. 6, the lights go on in Larned. The Larned Chamber of Commerce will kick off the Merry & Bright Downtown Night with a Christmas tree lighting at the Courthouse Square at 5:45 p.m. Santa will be in his house on the Courthouse Lawn, and several area merchants will have refreshments and giveaways from 6 to 8 p.m. Come back to Larned on Saturday, Dec. 7, for the Annual Larned Christmas Parade at 11 a.m. along Broadway. This year’s theme is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Also happening on Saturday, the Downtown in December Vendor Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 418 Broadway, the FCA Bake Sale at the Larned State Theater, 617 Broadway St.,  from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Chamber Ambassador’s free Kiddie Movie, “The Grinch (2018, PG)” at 2 p.m. at the Larned State Theater. 


Saturday afternoon, Otis in Rush County will hold a community Christmas party starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Otis-Bison Elementary School, 216 N. 3rd. Games for kids, Bingo, cookies, coffee, hot chocolate and treats will be provided courtesy of sponsors the Otis Lions Club and the Otis Beautification Committee. Bingo players are asked to bring “white elephant” gift for prizes. Kids can pick up a coloring sheet and return it to the Otis Community Library by Dec. 16 to be entered into a prize drawing on Dec. 17. 

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The City of St. John will hold its Christmas kick-off on Sunday evening. In addition to the lighting of the square, a visit from Santa, and a full slate of activities, attendees can vote for their favorite decorated tree in the city square.
St. John

The community of St. John began celebrating Christmas Around the Square three years ago. The event is set for Sunday, Dec. 8 from 4 to 7 p.m., on the downtown square located between Main Street and Broadway Street at 3rd and 4th Avenues. There will be plenty to do, including a Vendor’s Market, the USD 350 kids craft booth, and the Fireman’s Auxiliary Soup Supper. Attendees can vote for their favorite tree entered in the tree decorating Contest, and the St. John Apostle Catholic Church Women’s Group will sell cookies and sweet treats. At 6:15 p.m., the lights will come on in the city square and on the 15-foot Christmas tree from Delp Tree Farm decorated by city employees. 


Visit the little city of Rozel in Pawnee County on Sunday, Dec. 8 for the Rozel Christmas Celebration, sponsored by the Rozel Lions Club and Rozel Pride. The Rozel Volunteer Fire Department is hosting a lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rozel Community Center, 110 N. Main St., The Western Wranglers 4-H Club will be selling hot chocolate and pop at lunch.  Next, there will be a Christmas Parade starting at 1 p.m., traveling South on Main St.  Bingo, kids games, races and money scrambles are planned for the afternoon at the community center, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be downtown with sacks of candy.  

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Members of the Western Wranglers 4-H Club decorated windows at the Rozel Cafe in preparation for the Rozel Christmas party and parade happening Sunday.

Santa will stop in Rush County’s Timken at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. Kids are invited to visit with him and enjoy a warm drink and snack at the Timken Fire Station, courtesy of the Western Fraternal Life Lodge No. 95. 

Fort Larned

From noon to 4:30 p.m., visit the Fort Larned National Historic Site located six miles west of Larned on K-156 for a true old-fashioned Christmas celebration. Santa will be on hand for photos, and there will be period food, music and fun for all reminiscent of the 19th century. The First Christian Church of Great Bend Bell Choir will perform at 2:30 p.m. in the auditorium located in the visitor center. Then, the 4-H Pawnee Peppers will demonstrate how to make a perfect pie crust in the Mess Hall, where visitors can also enjoy traditional soups, desserts and drinks, and A.J. Hallings will play Christmas tunes on his guitar. Make and take Christmas decorations will be available in the fort hospital. 

Santa Fe Trail Center Museum

From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Santa Fe Trail Center Museum invites the public to stop in and enjoy Christmas on the Prairie. Tour the museum, take photos with Santa, take part in the cookie crawl, carriage rides and crafts. “Bring your kiddos for a great time and make some wonderful Christmas memories!” Freewill donations will be accepted.