Capturing the spirit of the Yule Tide season was a marvelous family festival which ran from Nov. 30th to Jan. 6th (at Navy Pier) known as "Winter Wonderfest." Kris Kringle himself would've been proud of this 12th annual, 170,000 square foot winter wonderland which seemed like a fantasy come to life...
Upholding centuries-old traditions and history of many European countries were displays (right inside the entrance), showing a country's statue of Santa Claus, their own decorated Christmas tree, and a billboard explaining their nation's significant customs, beliefs, and practices directly associated with Christmas.
Walking around this indoor Christmas carnival was like escaping into a fairy tale book's Candy Cane Lane, only it was very real, happening all around me in all of its holiday splendor. Complete with its own magnificent ferris wheel, delightful merry-go-round, and several other rides and attractions, this was truly a fantasy land. The frosting on the cake for this holiday spectacular was a spacious hockey rink, accommodating all skaters - young and old, beginners or experts. Just steps away from the skating rink was the world's largest concession stand, offering everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to pizza, etc. Not to be overlooked were the numerous vendors peddling gourmet fudge, funnel cakes, cotton candy, and ice cream. A family entertainment stage kept youngsters occupied between rides and gave their parents a much needed rest.
Visitors to this Winter Wonderfest were quick to take pictures of their children among the highly decorated surroundings, especially the (real life) Christmas Village. In character and dressed in period costumes were very friendly actors and actresses roaming around their very own Christmas Village, complete with houses, shops, a police station, etc. All the while taking the time to stop and talk to anyone and take pictures with everyone. "Outstanding!" I thought. Much to the delight of the youngest guests at this festival was a unique cookie baking area - exhibit where youngsters could indulge in and decorate their own cookies- hot and fresh right out of the oven! How clever!
Standing tall and proud in the middle of this huge celebration was an extravagant Christmas tree; at least 40 feet tall, shining bright and brilliantly with red, gold, and silver ornaments, garland, tinsel, etc. Everywhere I turned I seemed to be surrounded by such a special, fulfilling holiday atmosphere and ambiance; I really didn't want to leave this place.
Indeed, this Christmas carnival spectacular drew thousands of happy visitors both young and old for the 12th year in a row. If only this feeling could last the whole year through ....
Happy New Year!!