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Time to flip the switch: Christmas on the River kicks off with tree lighting

  • Chester will be awash in lights Saturday evening when the Lighted Parade makes its way from Chester High School to Chester Square Gazebo Park.

    Chester will be awash in lights Saturday evening when the Lighted Parade makes its way from Chester High School to Chester Square Gazebo Park.
    Judy Shields/Shots by Shields, File Photo

Herald Tribune report
updated: 12/1/2021 9:38 AM

The lights come on in Chester Square Gazebo Park Wednesday, Dec. 1, to herald the beginning of the holiday season and kick off the annual Christmas on the River celebration.

Back for its 33rd year, Christmas on the River will fill downtown Chester with festive fun Friday to Sunday, Dec. 3-5.

It all starts with the annual community tree lighting and grand illumination of the park at 6 p.m. tonight Santa and Mrs. Claus will make their first holiday appearance in Chester for the ceremony, with music provided by the Chester High School band.

Starting Friday, craft and vendor booths will be offering holiday shopping at three locations: the Randolph County Courthouse, 1 Taylor St.; the Chester VFW, 939 State St.; and the Chester American Legion, 500 Opdyke St. Sale hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Teams have two chances this weekend to compete in some festive fun.

On Friday, grab your friends and family and join in the Reindeer Games. Teams should sign in from 6:30-6:50 p.m. at city hall, 1330 Swanwick St. Games begin at 7 p.m., and all teams must be in by 8:30 p.m.

Teams of no more than five people need a vehicle and a digital camera or phone camera to participate. Teams are encouraged to dress in festive wear and decorate their vehicles as well. Registration is $5 per team; forms are available at and at city hall. Day-of registration is available starting at 6 p.m.

On Saturday families are invited to take part in the Frosty's Follies scavenger hunt. The hunt starts at 1 p.m., and all teams must be in by 3 p.m. A vehicle is required with an adult driver (18 or older). Teams may consist of no more than seven people, including the driver, and all team members must participate in each activity. Digital camera or camera phone required.

Day-of registration will be available from 12-12:45 p.m. All teams should sign in from 12:30-12:50 p.m.

Extra points will be awarded to those who dress in holiday attire, and there will be a prize for the best car decorations.

The highlight of the weekend comes on Saturday when Santa and Mrs. Claus will make their way through town in the Lighted Parade. The parade will step off at Chester High School at 6 p.m. and make its way to the Chester Square Gazebo Park.

After the parade, the fun centers on the park where there will be a trackless train, as well as a life-size snow globe, carolers, and hot cocoa and cider.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will receive visitors and give out treats. Also keep an eye out for Frosty and the Grinch, as well as Marshall and Everest from Paw Patrol.

And don't miss the Story Walk from the Chester Public Library, which will be up in the park starting today.

All of the Christmas on the River events are subject to change or cancellation. For more, visit or follow Christmas on the River on Facebook, @christmasinrivercity.


Christmas on the River would not be possible without the support of its generous sponsors:

Snowflake Sponsor: Memorial Hospital Chester

Mistletoe Sponsor: Manor at Craig Farms

Candy Cane Sponsors: Buena Vista National Bank, Joby Petrowske-Nashville Memorial Company, Neal and Sons Flooring, Lucky Larry's Slots, St. Nicholas Brewing Company, Dieterich Bank, Young Appliance

Poinsettia Sponsors: Munchkin Land Day Care, Alicia Ebers

Sugar Plum Sponsors: Peace Lutheran Church, Family of Tom Cress