Weihnachtsfest Festival calls community together for Christmas celebration
There was something for everyone at the Weihnachtsfest (Welcome Christmas) celebration as the city of Berne welcomed the Christmas season in Swiss tradition late Friday afternoon and evening.
Downtown lights were appropriately decorated for Christmas; local stores stayed open well into the evening, children had their faces painted and adults enjoyed snacks and crafts and many enjoyed a taste of chili at the Cross Community Church.
In front of the church was a live nativity with live animals of the Bible, drawing the intrigue of curious children who enjoyed petting them and taking time to hear family members tell them about the meaning of the birth of Jesus.
Free train rides were available to those who braved the chilly evening air to view the colorful stores and homes along the path. The ceremony was highlighted by the annual lighting of the community Christmas tree and the singing of carols led by Byron and Ed Fox at the base of the Swiss Clock Tower.
This year's tree is located on the southeast corner of the old Berne High School lot; the tree is surrounded by colorful well wishes and Christmas words of cheer from local businesses on illuminated signs surrounding the tree.
"Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices," quoted Mayor John Minch in his remarks prior to the lighting of the tree.
"Who from our mother's arms, hath blessed us on our way, with countless gifts of love, and still ours today," stated the Mayor with heartfelt fervency.
"Thank you for coming to the tree lighting," continued Minch. "The word, Weihnachtsfest, means 'Christmas Festival.' It is my pleasure as mayor of the city of Berne to preside over this joyful and exciting occasion."
The mayor then flipped the switch; the tree lights came on and everyone cheered. Long time musicians Byron and Ed Fox then led those present in singing carols such as, "Joy to the World," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "Silent Night," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Chamber of Commerce executive director Sheree Barkley said that she had heard good reports from area businesses concerning shoppers on Friday.
"Over at the Dollar General, they told me they had really good business," said Barkley. "We had a number of visitors to the Chamber office. In Switzerland, this tradition is used to kick off the Christmas season.
"We are so pleased with the wonderful weather," added Barkley, of the 50-degree evening air.
Barkley said that she was excited about the live nativity and animals at the Cross Community Church.
"I think that the adults get as excited about this nativity and the animals as the children do," said Barkley. "We are so thankful for everyone's help and cooperation in making this possible."
Jennifer Reusser who was helping with craft activities said that she was impressed with all of the volunteers that made the fun time for children possible.
"This is wonderful," said Reusser. "There are good activities for kids to do. There is something for everyone."
"This is pretty neat; I really like doing this," said Zane Reynolds of his, "Make It, Take It," project.
"I already got my Christmas tree up, but not decorated," added Grace Barkley, who was also working on the same project. "We will decorate it tonight. I like our community and the way it is decorated for Christmas."
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