Marion's Christmas kick-off was strong

Staff writer

Several Christmas events brought cheer and holiday spirit Sunday to Marion. Residents and out-of-towners alike shared in the festivities from home tours to shopping local.

Library home tours

Ruth Herbel of Marion said the decorations in the Historic Elgin Hotel were beautiful and appropriate for the building’s Victorian style.

Decorations for the Marion City Library Christmas home tours were simple but elegant and featured few lights and lots of garland to accent the building’s woodwork. A 12-foot tree decorated in blown glass ornaments and tinsel adorned the ballroom. The tree was watched over by a set of Christmas carolers.

Pauline Holub said there was a steady stream of people visiting the Elgin all day, as well as the three other locations on the home tour.

“We sold around 300 tickets,” librarian Janet Marler said. “It was about normal turnout.”

She said there were several visitors from El Dorado and Wichita.

“We had a lot of people who come every year,” she said, “and a lot of new people who heard about the event and came for the first time. We were very pleased with the turnout.”

Money raised from the event will go towards the library’s new addition.

Vendors, shops see good turnouts

Jeff Methvin, owner of Prairie Oak Alpaca Gift Shop, said he was pleased with the turnout Sunday.

“We were busy the first couple of hours then things slowed down, and closer to the parade time we started picking up again,” he said. “It was a great first weekend of being open.”

Co-organizer Jan Davis, owner of Gallery 101, said she was so busy she hardly had time to leave her shop.

“I didn’t have time to get out and see how the rest of the events and shops were doing,” she said.

Jeanice Thomas, co-organizer, said there was a steady stream of people all day at the Marion Community Center.

“All vendors seemed pleased at the end of the day,” she said.

Thomas said about ¾ of those who attended were from out of town.

“I’ve lived here long enough to know most people in town, so based on who I recognized and those I saw using the map, there were a lot of people I didn’t know,” she said.

She said the great weather helped draw people.

“The new kids’ area was very popular,” she said. “Everything I heard said the kids really enjoyed themselves and the puppet show. The only complaint I got about the whole event was that they missed the puppet show.”

She said maybe next year she would convince Mary Beth Bowers to do more than one show.

City Administrator Roger Holter was shuttling patrons from one end of Main St. to another via the Marion County tourism bus. The bus was adorned with posters of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Christmas versions of Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc. to make the bus festive.

“More than 50 percent of the plates I’ve seen just from driving around are from out of town,” Holter said. “Most of them are Sedgwick County plates.”

One of those plates belonged to Larry Dredge and his wife. The couple traveled from Wichita to attend the parade and shop at Marion stores.

“I used to deliver to several grocery stores in Marion once upon a time,” he said. “My wife goes to the Hillsboro Arts and Craft show and to Art in the Park, but had never spent much time in Marion. I think it’s a cute little town, so when we saw the Christmas events for Sunday in the Wichita Eagle I thought we should come down.”

Several vendors had items for sale and show. Shirley Bowers of Marion had over 300 nativity sets on display.

Bowers collection includes sets made of everything from wood to stained glass, and ranged from coffee cups to wooden carved figurines.

“I have too many to display at home so I rotate them between two glass cabinets,” she said.

She told passers-by about ones she loved.

“All have stories,” she said. “Its fun because I pick them up and unwrap them and remember who gave them to me or where I got them and it’s fun to reminisce.”

She said friends and family members, like her most recent one given to her by her son and daughter-in-law, gave most of the sets to her.

“They went on a Mediterranean cruise and got this for me in Vatican City,” she said.

Her nativity collection was left on display through Tuesday.

Frances Turner of Marion had several watercolor paintings for sale. She said she learned how to paint with watercolors after moving to Marion 55 years ago.

“I got my first coloring book and crayons at the age of 4 and I’ve been hooked ever sense,” she said.

She took art classes and learned how to draw, paint acrylics, and other mediums, before taking watercolor classes from Pat Wick in 2002.

“I think it’s the most challenging medium to work with,” she said, “but I enjoy it the most.”

Her paintings on display included paintings of birds, plants, and landscapes.

Other vendors included pottery by Paula Barta, Gerald Wiens Photography, Christmas trees for sale by Flint Hills Red Cedar Christmas trees, refurbished gumball and candy machines from Autumn Hanson, and many others.

Downstairs the center was filled with good things to eat. Members of the Marion Presbyterian Church were selling baked goods to raise money for a youth mission trip.

“We have several kids in the group who aren’t church members, and we’ve done several church fundraisers, so we thought it would be nice to do one outside of the church,” said Patty Putter whose son, Remington, is a member of the youth group.

Remington said the most popular item of the day was cinnamon rolls, which they sold out of within the first couple of hours.

Audrey McLinden said she made seven dozen bierocks for the event and had only a few left by 3 p.m.

“We’ve been very busy,” she said. “Things have been selling out fast.”

Parade features band and candy canes

Santa and Mrs. Claus were welcomed into Marion by several smiling faces both young and old.

The jolly couple rode into town on an antique Florence fire truck delivering candy to kids that lined Main St.

Joseph and Mary led the way on a miniature horse, and were followed up by a manger scene.

The parade lasted about 20 minutes and started on the west end of Main St. before coming to a stop at central park.

Other participants in the parade included the USD 408 band and American Legion Riders, with Holter bringing up the rear in the Marion Tourism Bus.

Light tour draws hundreds

The annual tunnel of lights at the county lake drew 250-275 cars, totaling 850 to 900 people, to see the sights Sunday night.

Margie Schwartz said the crowd was very busy at the beginning of the light show, then tapered off. Later, another very large crowd came through. She said organizers figured out the second wave came after the end of the Chiefs-Broncos football game.

Schwartz said organizers worked to get a more dependable count than in past years.

 

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