You’re looking for a little yule time cheer, yet, the Christmas signing and music at the local box store isn’t working, it could have something to do with the wailing child in aisle twelve. The drive around the neighborhood to view Christmas lights left you feeling sour because the guy on the corner, having synced his dancing lights with ‘Christmas Sarajevo’, left you feeling inept as an outdoor decorator. Worst of all, watching Chevy Chase’s house being torn apart on Christmas Eve makes you feel impending doom awaits your own holiday celebrating endeavor.
Ok, I admit, I was definitely reaching with those last two reasons. However, if you are feeling a little out of sync with holiday spirit, for whatever reason, there are some cures. One of my favorites, as I’ll list two today, Is strolling the ‘Main Street’ of a vibrant Midwestern downtown setting. The other attempt at thwarting the holiday blah was actually a failure. However, I will mention it because I think its worth a few words and will return on a day when there is less of a crowd.First things first, Appleton is the setting of today’s holiday stroll, and it did not disappoint. It comes complete with store window scenes that inspire warm feelings of Christmas, gold tinsel and light decor gracing the city streets and plenty of shops strictly geared for those that wanted to add Christmas cheer to their home. As I stroll the city street, I discover shops that seem interesting, from spiritual stores that are selling cut chunks of quartz for five hundred dollars to shops peddling antique Christmas décor. It’s fun to just explore the Appleton downtown, let alone during the holiday season. Amongst the bars, the museums, the bookstores, music stores, antique shops and others there is a holiday vibe that prevails through most of this portion of College Avenue.
Of the window displays that I find Downtown, the winner is behind the large panes of glass belonging to Chase Bank. Rudolph still survives as the classic children’s holiday show, and this window showcases some of the favorite characters from the television special. I love that they include Charlie in the Box- he usually gets no love. Appleton is a fairly small town, having a population of roughly 70,000 people, so it may not have the glam of a big city. Yet, the downtown is hip, with trendy sports bars, the classy PAC, and the Cool neon veneer of the Trout Museum of Fine Art. There is much to do, as I hear those cliché phrases emanating from my friend over and over, ‘next time’ and ‘one of these days’, after all, there is only so much one can do in an afternoon.
We leave Appleton behind with warmth in our hearts. Actually, the temperature is not too cold either, being mid to low forties. If your interested in this town for a little holiday cheer, may I suggest the 16th and 17th of December when the PAC hosts the Makaroff Youth Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.
We leave Appleton, heading north towards a small town known as Oconto. If touring a typical Midwestern downtown isn’t inspiring a little christmas glow, a hay ride among a plethora of light displays might be just the tonic for a lack of cheer.
I really don’t know what to expect, the hay ride being my friends suggestion. She endured the little jaunt through Appleton, not that she was really complaining, so I could humor her desire for a hay ride among lights. The price for admission were donations.
As I park the car, we catch a glimpse of some awesome sculptures, spying them from a good distance away. My friend is beyond excited, however, the lines of parked cars along the streets, before we reach the venues parking lot, is very foreboding.
We drop off our donations and gape at the line of people waiting for a hay ride. I marvel at the , seemingly endless, lighted Christmas tree sculptures that mark the path on both sides, however, that is all we will enjoy tonight. We would have waited hours for our chance at a hay ride, seeming a little extreme to witness Christmas lights. Unfortunately, we could not walk the park if we chose to bypass the hay ride, safety precautions being the reason. With all the small children waiting in line and six wagons running through the park, the reason is understandable.
None the less, we are disappointed. However, the sculptures will remain for the rest of the Christmas season, all is not lost. We did drink free cups of hot cocoa that lift our spirits a tad, yet, its a long drive for free hot cocoa.
The night was not a loss, as during the drive we listened to classic Christmas carols from Frank Sinatra crooning ”Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ to songs from the ‘Muppet Christmas Carol.’ I have to say, downtown Appleton’s glow survived, asI feel a little early Christmas cheer running through my veins.