Christmas isn’t Christmas in Delano until Santa and Mrs. Claus stop by. This holiday tradition features cookie decorating, a scavenger hunt and holiday treats.
“I want people to see it has a small-town feel,” said Nancy Lawrence, the president of Historic Delano. “We have a lot to offer.”
For the past six years, Delano has celebrated the season with an annual event. The festivities change just a bit each year, but the momentum and fun remain. On Saturday, Santa will stop by Central Plains Novelty, and then a few hours later, he’ll head to the Delano Clock Tower and help light it up.
At Al’s Old Book Store, 1710 W. Douglas, Mrs. Claus will read stories. The bookstore, which opened its doors in 1957, hosts Mrs. Claus each year. Santa’s wife puts on her spectacles and chooses stories from one of the more than 50,000 books the store sells.
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“She always reads ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ ” said Anita Siemer, the store’s owner. “But I never know what other books she will choose.”
Siemer loves seeing the children’s faces when Mrs. Claus tells them a tale and then hands out candy canes. Sometimes the children will sit on the famous lady’s lap.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Siemer said. “It’s a happy Christmas time.”
Kimberley Daley and her husband, Scott, just relocated their business, the Chocolate Fountain, to Delano.
“We were looking for somewhere unique and somewhere that had charm and character,” Daley said.
The Daleys opted for a location with a “hometown feel” that had foot traffic. And while they’re busy serving chocolate, champagne and caramel from their fountains at holiday parties, they are not too busy to open their shop for both the Delano Scavenger Hunt and a sample of both dark gourmet chocolate and hot cocoa.
“I’m excited about being a part of the event,” Daley said. “I’m so excited to be able to invite people in.”
Daley has decorated the shop for the holiday. And like several other shopkeepers along the avenue, she has made up a question for the scavenger hunt. Eight shopkeepers will be a part of this year’s hunt. Holiday-goers will walk from location to location gathering answers. By the day’s end, they will enter their cards in a drawing to win a basket of goodies from participating stores.
Children also can mail letters to the North Pole, and as part of the “Light Up Delano With Love” campaign, visitors are invited to bring blankets, gently used clothing, nonperishable food items and toiletries for the needy and leave them at the clock tower. The items will be given to Simple House of Wichita to distribute.
“We want to share what we have with other people,” Lawrence said. “We want to light up Delano with love.”
Starting at 10 a.m., visitors can walk from store to store, decorate cookies, eat treats and hear holiday music. Vendors will be selling $3 orbs for the lantern launch on the Arkansas River later in the evening.
After Santa lights the clock tower at 5 p.m., visitors can stroll over to the Lewis Street Bridge and Wichita Boathouse area for the Lights on the River party, sponsored by RiverCity WRAPS to draw attention to Wichita’s natural asset, the Arkansas River.
At 6 p.m., visitors will be encouraged to make a holiday wish and toss a lighted orb into the river for a night lantern float. Helpers in canoes will pick up the orbs. The evening wraps up with a fireworks display.
If anyone is interested in learning more about the history of the Delano community, where in the late 1870s cowboys roamed the streets, they can check out the antique postcards and Wichita history books at Al’s bookstore.