Braving the wintry cold, families are standing in line outside sipping on the free hot chocolate, waiting for the horse-drawn trolleys to arrive. Excitement exudes from the children when they hear the clopping of the horses nearing them.
Inside, beautifully and festively decorated Christmas trees line the wall, encouraging the attendees to vote for the best-decorated tree. There is a craft room awaiting the kids bundled up in puffy coats and warm scarves, hats, and gloves. In a separate room, there are tables all over, with people selling items from sweets to books to jewelry and more.
The Christmas music is playing, and red and green is spotted everywhere. Mrs. Claus is taking photos with the joy-filled children. You can’t get more Christmassy than the Very Merry Huntley Christmas event on Dec. 2-3.
Barbara Read, the coordinator of this annual Huntley event, truly put a lot of hard work into it. The turnout was great, and her determination, spirit, and love for this community really brought this lovely holiday event to life. It really added to the charming, small-town aspect Huntley is known for.
“When I see the the kids coming through the doors with their parents, I can’t help but just get excited,” Read said.
Read began planning for this year’s event right after last year’s. A lot of planning and preparation went into making it as successful as it was, and trying to make it better than previous years. She contacted organizations, businesses, and volunteers to take part this year, and a few of them approached her to be involved as well.
For the first day of the event, at the Municipal Complex, she had the kids’ craft room set up, the craft fair otherwise known as the Kris Kringle market, the horse-drawn trolley rides, free hot chocolate, and pictures with Mrs. Claus. The decorated Christmas trees were voted on with money, and all the donations were given to Huntley’s Grafton Food Pantry.
One of the sellers, named Ashley, was very successful at the event. Inspired by her family’s natural and clean lifestyle, she sold handmade products, from soaps to bracelets. Being a part of Huntley’s farmer’s market for the past two years led Huntley to invite her to be a part of this holiday event.
Very Merry Huntley Christmas could not have been as successful without her or many of the other vendors.
On day two, at the First Congregational Church, there was an indoor farmer’s market and craft fair, more crafts for the kids to make, a live nativity and family games, and horse-drawn carriages. Morkes’ Chocolate roasted their own spiced nuts, with hot chocolate and cider as well, to serve to the Huntley community. Lots of hot chocolate went around, as Trinity Lutheran Church also served it free.
Santa Claus came on a firetruck, live reindeer flew down from the North Pole, and the Merry Maskers dressed up and caroled in the gazebo in the town square. Pictures with Santa Claus were taken, and many other memories were made.
The highlight of the two days of the Very Merry Huntley Christmas was the lighting of the square at 5 p.m. on the second day, as well as the captivating firework show to wrap up the holiday event.
A few of Huntley High School’s own students volunteered in the kids’ craft room, such as juniors Madeline Arnold and Veronica Casey. Some of them volunteered for NHS purposes as well as helping out the community and evoking the Christmas spirit in children.
Crafts such as ornaments were being made in the crafts room. Having the kids to personalize their ornaments, and knowing that the children will be proud of what they accomplished as they hang their ornament on the tree, was really a treat to the volunteers.
Arnold believed that the event not only excited the children, but the families as well. The event was Christmas-themed, but seeing the excitement brought by that was fascinating. Casey believed this as well, absolutely loving seeing the kids being all like: “Yeah! Christmas!” Although the craft room was only a part of the Very Merry Huntley Christmas, the event would not have been the same without it.