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By Echo Menges
Sullivan County, Missouri – The Milan Christmas Kickoff is being deemed a success by local organizers who came together to plan the event.
On Saturday evening, December 11, 2021, the community was treated to several attractions including a hot chocolate stand, a free ham and turkey give-away, a light parade, a Christmas tree lighting, a visit from Santa and a pizza supper.
“We try to put this on for the community with Christmas coming up. I think it’s definitely a good thing to get the community together. (With) our community being so diverse, we wanted to do something that could bring the entire community together as a whole,” said Jacquelyn Perez, Secretary for the Milan Chamber of Commerce.
According to Perez, many groups and individuals helped make the Christmas Kickoff happen, which could not have been accomplished without everyone working together.
“It was kind of a collaboration this year. There were several individuals. Also, the Milan Community Betterment Group, the Chamber of Commerce, too many to name, and specific individuals as well,” said Perez. “Thank you so much to all of the businesses, individuals and of course Smithfield who are always so willing to help out with any of our events.”
This was the second year for the Milan Christmas Kickoff, which has grown since the first event.
“We had the Hot Chocolate Bar for the Junior Class. They’re wanting to get funds for their Project Prom. We definitely want to support that. We had Santa. We had the parade. We’re giving out goodie bags for the kiddos. And, we had a raffle for the adults,” said Perez.
This year’s Christmas Kickoff crowd was treated to the sights and sounds of the season throughout the City of Milan with the focus being at the Milan Town Square. Holiday music played on a sound system on the north side of the Sullivan County Courthouse, and nearly every business decorated their windows and storefronts for the holidays. Many of those businesses participated in the Chamber of Commerce’s annual window decorating contest, which added to the event. And homes throughout the county decorated for the holidays added to the ambiance for those traveling into and out of the city.
During the ham and turkey give-away, 26 turkeys and 48 hams were given out as part of a free raffle. Volunteers distributed the meat ahead of the Light Parade and volunteers fundraising for the Junior Class Prom efforts hosted a Hot Chocolate Bar serving gourmet style hot chocolate drinks throughout.
After dark, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting was executed to the delight of onlookers. And, this year’s Light Parade more than doubled in size from the first year. The parade entries filled the streets with Christmas and emergency lights making their way around the Square twice.
Santa made his grand appearance from the bucket of a North Central Rural Electric Cooperative line vehicle and the Polar Express Train Light Parade entry handed out golden tickets and offered rides to the children in attendance.
Santa’s house, which was recently built and donated by the Maulsby and Weter families, served as a welcoming space for children to have their photos taken with Santa by photographer Kenna Michael.
Several restaurants around the City offered specials to hungry attendees and the Milan Elks Lodge No. 2841 hosted an all-you-can-eat pizza bar following the festivities.
“Hopefully we can just keep making it bigger and better every single year,” said Perez.