Not in the holiday spirit yet? Chester will fix that, starting Friday with the 30th annual Christmas on the River celebration that ushers in the season like nothing else.
From the festive tree lighting on Friday night until the last gingerbread house is decorated on Sunday, everyone can have a wonderful time, no matter the weather. Here are some of the highlights:
Merry Merchant Card
Six local businesses and one church are participating -- visit at least 70 percent of them during the festival and get entered into the drawing for cash prizes. When you visit a participating business you get a stamp on your card. Receive an additional stamp for every $10 you spend in the business, which will get you additional entries in the drawing. Turn in your card, with your contact information, to City Hall or a participating business by 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10.
The prize winners will be drawn at 11 a.m. on Dec. 10 at City Hall.
The following entities are supporting this program: Benson's Wine Bar, Magnolia Memories, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Peace Evangelical Church, Subway Restaurant, The Studio Boutique and The Vintage Market.
Get in on the Reindeer Games, starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7. Reindeer Games are a scavenger hunt of sorts -- each team will have to figure out clues, perform tasks, gather items and be prepared for anything! A team can have no more than five members. Each team will need a vehicle and a digital camera or cellphone camera. There is a $5 team registration fee. Register your team at City Hall, by phone (618) 826-1430) or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are also prized for best-decorated team and vehicle, so don your festive socks, sweaters, hats and bells! Dress up your vehicle as well!
Fried chicken dinner
St. Mary's PTO will host a fried chicken dinner at the KC Hall, 209 Church St., from 4:30-7 p.m. on Friday. Besides fried chicken there will be mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, a dinner roll, coleslaw and dessert. It's $10 per plate.
The Grand Illumination of the Community Christmas tree in Chester Square Gazebo will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7. Join us for Christmas music, courtesy of the Chester High School Band, and cocoa and cookies, courtesy of Buena Vista National Bank.
St. Mary's School, 835 Swanwick St., will host their Christmas Trivia at 7 p.m. Friday. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and you are invited to bring your own food and drink (alcohol is permitted). Tables are $20 per person (adults only). Contact the school office to make your reservation, at (618) 826-3120.
After a night of trivia, return to St. Mary's from 7-10 a.m. Saturday for a pancake breakfast. Plates are $6 each and will hold three pancakes, a sausage patty, scrambled eggs and a baked apple. Carryouts will be available.
The Stone Cottage will host an Open House, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Step back in time inside this circa-1850 cottage, decorated for the season and marvel at the beautiful renovations.
Santa barges in
Santa will "barge in" at 10 a.m. Saturday, as he and Mrs. Claus arrive in town by way of the Mighty Mississippi. They will make their way to the Chester Boat club where they will greet guests until noon. Refreshments are available for the kids. This is made possible by the Chester Boat Club and the Chester Chamber of Commerce.
Peace Lutheran Church
Peace Lutheran Church will hold its Open House from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, showcasing the beautifully decorated church and featuring a lighted Christmas Village. Once again, they will host a Soup and Sandwich Luncheon with six different soups. The luncheon is free but donations are appreciated. In the basement of the church, browse the Christmas Shop with gently used items at gentle prices, and homemade Christmas goodies for sale.
Cookie & bake sale
The St. John's Lutheran Women's Missionary League will hosting a cookie and bake sale, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the St. John's Parish Hall, 224 W. Holmes St.
Jingle Bell Fun Run
Dress in your craziest holiday suit, make a lot of noise, and run from Chester High School to City Hall and back. $20 registration. Sign in begins at 4:15 p.m. Saturday and the fun run starts at 5:30 p.m. Aren't running but want to buy a shirt anyway? They are $10-$12 at City Hall.
Lighted Parade and Santa's Village
The Lighted Parade steps off from the high school at 7 p.m. Saturday; marches through town to Santa's Village. After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the Village to talk with children. "Picture It Now" will photos with the Clauses ($5 for a 4x6). Kids can make an ornament at the Outback Snow Shack, and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" will play on the outdoor screen. Kettle corn, chili and hot dogs for sale.
Craft & vendor sale
The sale has two locations: the Randolph County Courthouse and the American Legion. Hours are 5-7:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. More than over 80 vendors.
Decorate your own gingerbread house from 1-3 p.m. Sunday at the Manor at Craig Farms. This is a family-friendly event. Free.
• For more information, contact Patti at (618) 826-1430 or at email@example.com.