A slew of holiday season traditions are coming up in both Hill City and Keystone.
Keystone will be holding the 13th annual Victorian Christmas and Turkey Bingo event on Nov. 21 at the Keystone Community Center and Library.
The event begins at 9 a.m. with a vendor craft fair, a silent auction, and a festival of trees. “We have over 15 vendor spots open for our visitors to shop for their holiday gifts and treasures for their families,” said Robin Pladson with the Keystone Chamber of Commerce. “We are following CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines in response to COVID-19 and will have a table for free masks and hand sanitizer.”
The event ends at 2:30 p.m.
The event is a longstanding fundraiser for the Keystone community and its nonprofit groups.
“We started it as an offseason event to coincide with helping families in the community,” said Sandi McLain, one of the event’s organizers.
Donations from the event primarily focused on distributing Christmas gifts to families who couldn’t afford them. Donations collected from the festival of trees will continue to support families in need in the community with Santa deliveries by the Holy Terror Day Association.
Money collected via the silent auction, food and vendor fees will be split equally between the town library, the senior center and the Keystone Museum.
Turkey bingo begins at 5 p.m. in the Keystone Community Center gym. The proceeds from bingo benefit the library. The town will use disposable paper cards this year in addition to practicing social distancing protocols.
In Hill City, the holiday season kicks off with a special ribbon cutting.
At 5 p.m. on Nov. 25, the Hill City community is invited to attend a special “flip the switch” ribbon cutting for Hill City’s Lane of Lights to officially kick off Hill City’s newest Christmas tradition.
The Lane of Lights will be open and illuminated 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly starting Nov. 27 and running through Dec. 27. On Fridays and Saturdays during this period, “Hill City Helpers” will welcome visitors at the entrance, which will be Museum Drive and East Main Street. Helpers will offer candy and/or hot chocolate.
This is an exciting event for Hill City, said Janet Wetovick-Bily, executive director of the Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber, she said, is excited to have supported Hill City mayor Kathy Skorzewski’s vision and initiative for starting the Lane of Lights, which, Wetovick-Bily said, will establish Hill City as the “Heart of Christmas.” This initiative has been supported by the generosity of organizations, businesses and individuals who have all come together, Wetovick-Bily added.
“We hope everyone who has contributed to Hill City’s Lane of Lights, including representatives from premier sponsor Black Hills Energy, will be on hand to celebrate with us,” Wetovick-Bily said. “We’re grateful to everyone who has come together through their donations, their support and who have put in many hours to create this beautiful feature in Hill City. It’s a welcoming new tradition for our residents, visitors and the surrounding communities to see, and where families can enjoy a little holiday magic right now and all through the month as Hill City celebrates Olde Tyme Christmas.”
That’s why, Wetovick-Bily said, the entire community and all donors are invited to help kick off and welcome the Christmas season in Hill City by gathering for this ribbon cutting.
Not only is the community celebrating gratitude the night before Thanksgiving but also gratitude for the great community, she added.
And, after Thanksgiving is all done, on Nov. 27 Hill City’s Olde Tyme Christmas Lighted Parade is going to be bigger and better on, Wetovick-Bily said, and, like many other events during this pandemic year, will be changed a little so children can still make their holiday desires known to Santa.
The annual parade, always held on Black Friday, will start at 6 p.m.
New this year, Wetovick-Bily said, is a change in the traditional setting at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum. This year, Santa and Mrs. Claus will welcome children after the parade at Old World Plaza.
“We thank Wally Matush for her generous heart to provide space for Santa and Mrs. Claus,” Wetovick-Bily said. “We’re anticipating good, typical South Dakota weather at this time…so children can visit Santa while social distancing yet still tell him their fondest wishes for Christmas.”
The chamber will have helpers at Old World Plaza to direct children for their visit.
Also new this year, following the parade on Nov. 27, spectators who wish to view the Lane of Lights can hop on the Hill City Trolley, which, Wetovick-Bily said, will make a loop from Main Street to Museum Drive and return to Main Street to provide viewing opportunities. People can also enjoy the Lane of Lights by driving their own vehicle.
“We’re especially grateful to our Parade and Hill City Lane of Lights premier sponsor and Chamber member, Black Hills Energy,” said Wetovick-Bily, “and to our chamber partner and member, The Hill City Trolley (Stacey Phillips and Jordan Burnett) for helping us to make special memories for families this year.”