Get ready for the elf invasion.
For 10 days during Elkhart’s Winterfest, the city will be filled with dozens of Santa’s elves, more than a hundred carolers and a good helping of holiday cheer.
Hosted by the local nonprofit Santa’s Pantry, the 10-day celebration will last from Friday to Dec. 9, with all proceeds benefiting local nonprofit organizations. More than 300 volunteers and 30 organizations are working hard to make this new holiday event possible.
The buzz surrounding Winterfest has been huge, said Debbie Micola, president of Santa’s Pantry.
“We keep getting calls from people saying this is so awesome,” Micola said. “I’m almost nervous about how many people are going come.”
Festivities will kick off with a Winterfest holiday dance at the Matterhorn on Friday, followed by 10 days full of Santa’s Christmas parties, ice sculpting, fire spinning, jazz band performances, carolers, breakfast with Santa and a holiday parade.
While several of the Winterfest festivities will be familiar to Elkhart residents, others are new this year.
More than one day will feature Old Saint Nick, including Santa’s Community Christmas Party, Santa’s Family Dance and the Where’s Santa? Scavenger hunt. Roy Pickler, a Middlebury resident who appeared on NBC’s reality show, The Biggest Loser, will play Santa Claus at many of these events.
Most of the events are inexpensive or require only a small donation, making it easy for most people to attend.
“Ninety percent of people can afford to do this with their kids. It’s a great thing for the community,” Micola said.
Though much of the event planning has been coordinated by Santa’s Pantry, students from Central High School’s National Honor Society have also been involved in preparations for Winterfest. Many of Central’s NHS students will play elves throughout the celebration.
Proceeds and commodities collected at each event will benefit one of the following nonprofit organizations: Church Community Services, Teen Challenge, United Pantry, Faith Mission, Soup of Success, Guidance Ministries, Santa’s Pantry, Toys for Tots, Knights of Columbus, The Women’s Shelter, Salvation Army and C.A.P.S
“Each day benefits one of the organizations,” Micola explained.
Details of each event can be found at www.santaspantry.org/winterfest.html
Nov. 30—Winterfest Holiday Dance
Dec. 1—Breakfast with Santa, Downtown parade, Lighting of town’s Christmas tree, Tea with Ruth and Friends, free ice skating at NIBCO Ice Rink
Dec. 2—Santa’s Community Christmas Party
Dec. 3—Where’s Santa? Event
Dec. 4 Museum and Jazz, Santa’s Family Dance
Dec. 5—Broadway show, Miracle on 34th Street, at The Lerner Theater, ArtWalk, 100 carolers on the Civic Plaza
Dec. 6—Holiday jazz and Window Wonderland
Dec. 7—Frost and Fire show at Family Night at NIBCO
Dec. 8—Family and movie day at the Elkhart library, gift baskets by Soup of Success
Dec. 9—Mini health fair featuring Roy Pickler, 5K Santa Fun Stroll