Heart of the Hills kicks off Christmas

Leslie Silverman

Hill City kicked off the holiday season with a smorgasbord of events this past weekend. Black Friday and Small Business Saturday shoppers were able to look for handcrafted and homemade items at the Kris Kringle Craft Show and sale at the Hill City School District gym. There were over three dozen vendors present with unique items from handmade jewelry to human and pet clothing,  and from foods to ornaments and wreaths.
First-time craft show vendor Lou Ann Delaney sold her very first piece ever at the show on Friday. The crocheted dog sweater was for a large breed dog and had hung on display on a reindeer before going home with its new owner.
“I feel great pride that somebody really likes what I do,” she said.
Delaney also said she met a lot of nice people but that her winter items were a hard sell for the Florida people in attendance.
Overall she said the show was very good for her.
“It started slow but picked up later in the afternoon,” Delaney said about Friday’s attendance.
Brenda Aadland, who sells paper crafts alongside her husband who makes bird houses, said there was “gorgeous stuff” at the show. This is her third year participating and knows that attendance is usually weather-dependent.
Organizer Ranae Schrier said because of its growing size next year the show will likely expand into a second room.
The show was also a chance to crown The People’s Choice Award for this year’s gingerbread house display. That honor went to Quilt Time.
Friday was also the first day people could visit the Trees and Train event at the South Dakota Railroad Museum. A stroll in the museum puts you “in the spirit of a traditional Christmas” said curator Rick Mills.
“It takes you back to an era that’s been forgotten,” he said.
This year there are 27 trees. Every year there is a different display of trees.
“If this isn’t festive I don’t know what is,” Mills said.
The museum has been working on the event since September.
“When you see it all put together it just makes you feel so good,” Mills said.
Visitors can vote for their favorite tree through Dec. 28 when the winner is named.
Children of all ages were also able to visit Santa and  Mrs. Claus at the Hill City Center Friday afternoon. According to Janet Wetovick-Bily, executive director of the Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Clauses saw over 50 children. Wetovick-Bily said she was “super happy” with the Hill City Center location.
“People can be warm before the parade,” she said.
The Alpine Inn hosted music and cookies as well as chestnuts roasting on an open fire before the parade began. The parade itself featured floats of all shapes and sizes. There were dance troupes, scenes of sitting in the pine forest and a whole lot of Elvis impersonators. The streets were lined with many locals as well as residents from nearby communities including Keystone, Rapid City and Pringle.
Saturday night Lions Club Bingo was well attended and raised $630.90 for the Hill City Ambulance.
The Christmas season continues throughout Hill City with the Lane of Lights open evenings from now through the end of the year and the first annual Hill City Light Fight, a free Christmas display decorating contest for businesses and residents.


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