ELLINWOOD — Decorated Christmas trees, German food, a living nativity, and shopping galore all marked Ellinwood’s first ever Christkindlmarket on Sunday.
Festive crowds from throughout the state were out enjoying the splendid and warm December weather with one visitor coming all the way from Germany.
Shoppers visited some of the 47 vendors present in downtown businesses and took a carriage ride, watched a ventriloquist, or for the children, had their face painted.
As the sun set, the evening’s activities began and 200 people gathered at the Historic Wolf Band Shell. The community choir sang various Christmas songs such as “Silent Night,” “Dashing Through the Snow,” and other holiday favorites.
Father John Forkquoh, from Ghana, blessed the 14 foot pine tree that was covered with 2,000 LED lights and bright red bows. Ellinwood Mayor Frank Koelsch and Chamber of Commerce Board President Lloyd Kurtz lit the tree and invited people back. Chamber Administrator J. Basil Dannebohm thanked the crowd for attending.
“We want to celebrate our German heritage,” said Dannebohm. “It started with a simple tree lighting and grew into this. The city looks gorgeous for the holiday.”
He explained that Christkindlmarket is a German market celebrating the birth of Christ. The raised boxes on Main Street were decorated by the Garden Club using fresh evergreen clippings and even the water tower had red and green lights.
The Ellinwood Historical Society sponsored its first ever abendbrot or evening meal, serving 120. Included was artisan bread and butter and meat on an open faced sandwich. These were accompanied by pickles of various types and salads, including German potato salad all served with German mustard or horseradish.
Also included was apple or cranberry juice with carbonated water. Participants finished the meal with anise cookies. They also had many historic nutcrackers and historic Christmas ornaments, including some paper ornaments from World War II. Because of a scarcity of metal, Christmas ornaments during the war were made from paper.
Following the downtown tree lighting, a living Christmas tree at the American Legion was also lighted for the contributions of veterans. The tree was donated by Leonard and Viola Kasselman in the late 1980s. The tree was lit by John and Jacque Isern.
Thirty-two actors from Ellinwood schools reenacted the birth of Jesus, including the role of the baby. An alpaca, miniature donkeys, a pygmy goat and a calf joined the human actors. Instrumentalists played. The production was under the direction of Dr. Catherine Strecker and Sharon Schartz with 450 in attendance in the large heated tent.
The evening closed with a performance by Dodge City Marshal Allen Bailey and his wife Cowgirl Janey titled “A Cowboy Christmas” and Ellinwood Middle and High School band selections.
“This wasn’t a festival,” said Dannebohm. “The moment I walked in the tent I realized this was one big family getting together for a holiday celebration.”