Nevada gears up for first Christmas on Main — the town's biggest holiday event ever

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
A sign announcing Nevada's first Christmas on Main celebration hangs on the fence at City Hall campus.

Saturday is a big day in Nevada as the community holds its first Christmas on Main celebration in its Historic Main Street District from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Other events bookend the inaugural festival, creating a daylong schedule of activities. With the theme "Made for the Movies," Christmas on Main organizers hope visitors feel like they're on the set of a Christmas movie.

With three dozen locations on the map in the Main Street district, 40 businesses and organizations are participating. Each will have its own decorated tree and festivalgoers can vote for their favorite.

Each family who attends the celebration will get a bag of little jingle bells they can use to cast their votes.

“We asked each of the participants to have a little bit of magic behind their door — whether it’s a bite-sized treat or a little gift or an activity,” Marlys Barker, who co-chairs the event committee with Ros Dunblazier and Kristy Reinhart, told the Ames Tribune.

Dunblazier thinks it’s the largest Christmas event Nevada has ever had.

“Before, there were events on different Saturdays,” she said. “And what we’ve done is combine several different Saturday events into one big event day. It frees up other Saturdays because people are so busy this time of the year.”

The map of participating businesses for Nevada's Christmas on Main includes other tidbits of information.

Several organizations have timed their events to coincide with Christmas on Main

Nevada’s parks and recreation department, fire department and public library all got on board with holding their events this Saturday, along with Memorial Lutheran Church, First United Methodist Church and Central Presbyterian Church.  The schools are going to have vocalists caroling downtown.

Parks and Rec and the Nevada firefighters will have a chili and cinnamon roll feed at the City Hall campus. Tickets are $5 each. Proceeds go into a fund to help provide holiday meals for local families in need. Also, five “golden tickets” are in the mix, and the people who happen to get a golden ticket will win a prize.

“It’s a win-win effort,” Rhonda Maier, assistant director of parks and recreation, said in a news release. “We are thankful that the Nevada firefighters are able to partner with us on this activity.”

“There are so many things going on, you almost can’t list them,” Barker said. “But the thrust of the event is based on the support we’ve gotten from our local businesses.”

Nevada's Christmas on Man offers a wide variety of events and activities.

Santa and four movie character lookalikes will attend the celebration

Santa, Elf, Scrooge, Olaf and The Grinch will be visiting Nevada’s downtown Saturday.

“Santa will be in the theater, and Story Medical will have gift bags for the children after they visit with Santa,” Dunblazier said.

Santa will be available from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and kids will visit with him on the stage at the theater.

The four movie lookalikes will be in four different areas of downtown. The event map is color-coded as to their possible locations. Families are encouraged to take selfies with the characters and email them to Barker at mbarker@cityofnevadaiowa.org by 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, to be entered in a drawing of a basket of goodies valued at more than $500.

“Every Hallmark movie has a town event, with lots of things to eat and drink. That’s really where this event was born,” Barker said with a laugh.

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Beautiful Land Market will have a pop-up at Gatherings

Ames-based Beautiful Land Market is holding its last pop-up of the year with its Merry & Bright Market at Gatherings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for folks to once again shop small, handmade and local,” Jody Bergan Bennett, co-owner of Beautiful Land, said. “Gatherings will have their adjoining coffee shop, FarmGrounds, open for soups, sandwiches, baked goods and coffee. Gatherings will have a full service bar with beer, wine and mixed drinks available.”

Beautiful Land will have 27 handmade and vintage vendors. Admission to the event is free.

Beautiful Land Market will hold its Merry & Bright pop-up at Gatherings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Our makers come from all over the area — from Fairfax to Des Moines, Ames and Nevada,” Bergan Bennett said. “We even have a couple who will be showcasing and selling their work for the first time.”

Christmas on Main will also be featuring a variety of vendors inside various businesses. Four vendors will be at the Methodist church, where shoppers will find Iowa Farm Life Dreams, For the Love of Cheesecakes, CraftsEverywhere and Thirty-One Gifts. Kids can decorate a cookie with the Methodist Youth Group, and a brass quintet will play sets at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

A one-mile Ugly Sweater Run will be held at 2 p.m. The event is organized by Runners United Nevada (RUN). Check RUN’s Facebook page for more details.

Christmas BINGO games will be played at the Senior Center from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., hosted by Nevada Parks and Recreation. Visitors can play two cards free or buy additional cards. Prizes can be won.

Re/MAX Concepts, M.O.R.E. Team will provide tethered hot air balloon rides just north of N. Avenue on Sixth Street starting at 3 p.m., weather and wind speeds permitting.

The Talent Factory is staging a show after Christmas on Main at 7 p.m., where owner Larry Sloan is featuring a group called The Regulars, which includes several area performers who frequently take the stage together there. Tickets are $5 and available ahead of time or at the door.

The Talent Factory is located in Nevada’s historic Camelot theater on Main Street.

So many things going on, it's hard to list

“There are things going on all day in our downtown area,” Barker said. “We started out trying to keep it simple, but we’ve had such an incredible response from Nevada businesses and organizations, Christmas on Main has become bigger than we expected.”

Main Street Nevada leaders are hoping to see the sidewalks of the town's historic Main Street district filled with people Saturday during the first Christmas on Main celebration.

The event map has details about the fun things happening throughout the route, including:

  • Visit the “Land of Inflatable Fun”
  • Hear a great storyteller and create a card for a veteran
  • Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus
  • Hunt for the four featured characters and win a family prize package worth more than $500
  • Find hot apple cider and Wassail
  • Experience a Winter Wonderland and Castle of Arendelle
  • Decorate a cookie
  • Find a craft project specifically for “grown-ups”
  • Make reindeer food
  • Meet the Nutcracker
  • Enjoy treats at several participating businesses
  • Get a special key for Santa
  • Get your pet photographed with a fun background
  • Listen to a brass band
  • Take part in an interactive bell-playing activity
  • See the inner workings of a grandfather clock

“Our fingers are crossed for good weather,” Barker said in the release.

If weather cancels the event, it will be postponed until next year.

“However, we’d expect many businesses to have treats following the storm if that happens, and hopefully our residents would visit the downtown as soon as the storm cleared," Barker said.