It’s a combination of delights that brings folks together for good times in St. John. The chamber of commerce, park department, and area growers all bring special events that have become traditions.
Each Sunday from early May through October, a farmer’s market beckons about a thousand people who browse the homegown flowers, herbs, baked goods, veggies, meats, and more. Thirty vendors include five farmers, two offering organic fruits and vegetables.
Don’t think it’s just inhaling fresh scents, bagging the goods and heading straight home, though. This market has food to enjoy right here — pizza and pierogies, hot dogs, beverages and more.
“It’s a place to grab a bite to eat, meet up with friends, and enjoy a pleasant morning,” says Melissa Stefanko, farmers market manager.
The farmers market is every from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays in the Community Hospital parking lot on U.S. 41.
St. John parents can register their children ages 2 through 6 to enjoy Boo Bash from 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 27 at Prairie West Park, a quarter mile west of U.S. Hwy. 41 off 93rd Street.
Parents are encouraged to wear costumes, too, and many make it a tradition. Kim Fealey and her daughter, now 7, have missed only one year. “It’s fun, and the kids can pick out a pumpkin in the pumpkin patch to take home.”
“Kids get a goodie bag. There’s a little train ride, a photo setup scene, and we have games for them, with treats for prizes. It’s a fun day for the kids,” says Chip Sobek, superintendent of St. John Parks and Recreation.
Visit stjohnin.org for its October calendar.
Start Saturday, Dec. 8, at the St. John Chamber of Commerce Breakfast with Santa.
Tickets are $8, with two seatings, 8:30 and 10:30. “Traditionally it’s been at the St. John VFW hall, but it’s so popular we’ve had to turn people away. Why do that? So we may have it at another, larger place,” says Cindy Sue, chamber office coordinator.
Breakfast is catered by 95Ate5 brew pub, with freshly made pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage links, assorted coffee cakes, and juice, coffee and water.
Bring a camera, because Santa will arrive all ready for photo ops with the kids.
Check stjohnin.org for an update on the location.
Jingle bells rock
The biggest, brightest event is the park department’s Christmas in the Park and Festival of Lights at Prairie West Park. Opening night is Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. The fest continues from 4-7 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 22, at the park along West 93rd Street.
On opening night, “Welch’s Stop and Shop brings grills and donates hot dogs, Santa arrives on a fire truck, and there are truly outstanding fireworks at 7,” says St. John Clerk-Treasurer Beth Hernandez.
That's on top of the lighting of 50 to 75 Christmas trees. The park department brings in fresh trees that can be sponsored for $50, payable at the town clerk’s office; the fee goes toward the event.
“Anyone can do this. Sometimes a family will dedicate a tree for a lost loved one, and school art clubs decorate, too. We pick three winners of the most creatively decorated tree,” says Hernandez.
The park department puts lights on the trees, and people can decorate one beginning Nov. 1. All are ready by Nov. 20 or 21. At the tree lighting ceremony opening night, “You hear a lot of ‘wow,’” says Sobek.
While Christmas music plays, children can ride the Holiday Train through the park; have fresh popcorn, hot chocolate, and cookies; and a photo with Santa. Each Saturday will offer a different activity: a photo booth (people can bring props); a Letter to Santa night (all letters get a response); and a Christmas-themed movie in the park (weather permitting).
From 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Santa will greet people of all ages with special needs. The event is part of the Cooperative Special Recreation Initiative. Call the park to register at 219-365-6465.
Trees will be displayed through New Year’s Day.
Check facebook.com/stjohnin for updates on events.