Despite temperatures reaching into the 70s this week, the unmistakable signs of the Christmas season are everywhere throughout downtown Elkhart.
In the city offices, Mayor Jennifer McCoy and city employees are planning a city-wide celebration they hope will become an annual event.
“This city has been split for so long,” McCoy told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “I just wanted to do something that would bring everyone together. Whether they like me or not, everyone loves Christmas.”
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Nov. 30 the Elkhart Community Christmas celebration will feature carolers, games, an ugly-sweater contest, free cocoa and cider, a “best dressed” window and door contest, and more, in downtown Elkhart.
An “angel-tree,” where residents hang hand-written ornaments with the names of disadvantaged children, along with gift suggestions, has already been set up in city hall, McCoy said. Residents are encouraged to pick a name and item, and bring a new, unwrapped donation to city offices by Dec.13.
The event will also include the lighting of the first official Elkhart Christmas tree; a 12-foot evergreen, donated by Eagle Railcar.
The holiday extravaganza, which grows daily, thanks to the generosity of community volunteers, began when McCoy petitioned city council to put a decorated antique, 1942 firetruck in a city center alleyway.
“It just exploded from there,” McCoy said. “The combination of community and Christmas spirit has brought donations from all over the city. Most everything you see downtown has been donated by our residents and local businesses.”
One local business-owner, Deb Wimberg of “Just Deb's” resale shop at 214 S. US Highway 287, said she was happy to donate to the event.
“I've lived in Elkhart for 12 years,” Wimberg told the Herald-Press. “In all the years I've lived here, nothing like this has ever happened. I love supporting the community, and look forward to supporting this event for years to come. It's awesome.”
Those who want to volunteer before, or during the event are always welcome, McCoy said. She also encourages all residents and visitors to join in the fun Nov. 30.
“Our sleepy little Elkhart town center will be transformed into a winter wonderland,” she said. “Come on down, have a cup of cocoa, look at the lights, and enjoy each others' company. After all – it's Christmas.”