The student news site of Atlantic High School


The student news site of Atlantic High School


The student news site of Atlantic High School



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Christmas Time in Atlantic

Reflect back on what Christmas time is like in Atlantic, Iowa, and all the hard work that goes into lighting up our downtown.
Aubrey Winford

Everyone that lives in Atlantic knows that during Christmas time, Chestnut Street is magically lit up with the twinkling lights on the trees. The light poles are decorated with garland and the walkway leading to Santa’s Cabin is lined with toy soldiers. “I think the lights are beautiful and festive and reflect the city of Atlantic as a welcoming community,” said sophomore Lily Johnson. However, have you ever thought of what goes on behind all of this festive spirit? Executive director of the Chamber Of Commerce, Bailey Smith, lets AHS in on the particular planning of Christmas time in Atlantic. 

“Christmas in Atlantic itself has been going on for about 30 years,” says Smith.The month-long celebrations starts out with Atlantic’s yearly Scrooge contest where contestants need to raise money and non-perishable food items for the food pantry. They then have a holiday open house with all of their retailers where you can get a head start on holiday shopping with a discount chamber bucks event. This is where people can buy chamber bucks at a 20% discount that would be spent at Atlantic businesses.

Then they have the grand lighting of the downtown area. They provide a hot dog meal from Hyvee and Santa makes his first appearance that day. Speaking of Santa, they had him visit a total of eight times throughout the year. You can always check when he will arrive on the Chamber Of Commerce website at Adding to the excitement of Santa, there is an option to ride in a horse drawn carriage up and down Chestnut Street where you can admire the beautiful lights. 

Next up they hosted the pancakes with Santa this year at the YMCA. Another event that Atlantic is very fond of is the lighted parade. Family and friends are all welcome to come down to Chestnut Street and watch the lighted parade where the goal is to light up the night. After that, the Chamber hosts the holiday concert and the Angel of Christmas. Smith said that there are about 20 events between mid November and December.

“We do not charge a fee to participate in any of our events,” said Smith, “Anything we do is accessible to anybody no matter their income level.” She thinks it’s very important to Atlantic as it gives people the choice of donating or the opportunity to volunteer. Many may not be able to support Atlantic in giving donations but there is always the option of volunteering in your town if you want to help out.

Behind the scenes of all this though, is a very hardworking group of people. Smith said they work very closely with the Fire department, Police department, and the Public Works department to plan all of this out. “We don’t have a committee per say,” but have a board of directors who help out. Other than that, they rely heavily on volunteers. They start their planning during October, but Smith said she gets some scheduling out of the way in January through July. Although, Atlantic wouldn’t be able to have all these fun Christmas events without the money side of things. “We have very generous business sponsors,” said Smith. This causes all the events to be free to the residents of Atlantic. 

Another big Atlantic tradition during Christmas time is all of the decorations. The Public Works department is a department of the city that spent the whole month of October stringing the lights downtown and hanging the ornament decor down 7th Street and Poplar. “They do all that work for us, essentially because they have that equipment to do it,” said Smith. Did you know that the Christmas lights on Chestnut Street started because 30 years ago, the department head of Public Works thought it would be really cool to put lights on the trees? He took it upon himself and said if the city purchases the lights then he would string them all. 

Smith’s favorite thing about Christmas in Atlantic is the lighted parade as she loves to see all the floats and lights. Although Smith did say, “I spent seven years trying to get that beautiful Christmas tree so that might take the top for me.” In all, Christmas time in Atlantic is the state of Iowa’s number one Christmas destination as the Des Moines Register calls Atlantic one of the holidays “bright spots” as more than 200,000 LED lights light up our downtown area. Many come to tour the town and see our Christmas events, but the residents of Atlantic get them every day. So, what do you think of Christmas time in Atlantic?

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About the Contributor
Aubrey Winford
Aubrey Winford, Staff Writer
Sophomore Aubrey Winford loves AHS Journalism because she was inspired to take the class by her sister who had started journalism the year before. “I am excited for the fun and opportunities journalism will bring me,” Winford said. Winford has been involved in tennis, concert choir, show choir, and student council. In her free time, she likes to clean and hang out with her family and friends. Her family consists of her mom, dad, two sisters, and two dogs. One of her favorite things to do is watch movies and shows such as “The Princess Bride” and “Gilmore Girls.”  “I will definitely continue journalism for the rest of my high school years because it's such a good experience,” Winford said. One of the reasons she loves it so much is because she wrote one of her favorite stories called “Christmas Time in Atlantic.” Winford cannot wait for what is to come. Bio by Gracie DeArment

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