By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
It was rainy and overcast Friday but the holiday spirit was warm and bright under roofs around the city Friday.
The 17th annual Winterfest, arranged by Anderson Indiana Main Street, celebrated the season at various locations, including the Gruenewald House, which showed off what Christmas looked like in the Victorian era.
The historic landmark is open to the public and decorated for the holidays as part of Winterfest, which took place at various locations and times around the city Friday.
The house, around since 1850, is one of the jewels of downtown Anderson, said Gruenewald House board president David Cagley, and seeing how it might have looked in the 19th century is important for younger generations.
“This house is old and important to the history of the community,” Cagley said.
Father Christmas met visitors at the door, refreshments were available and stories about the house were told during tours.
Downtown Anderson has a lot to offer — old and new — said house director Jean Whitsell-Sherman, and the house represents the old.
“Winterfest is bringing people downtown, and we join with them to show what we have,” she said. “Victorians were always lavish with their decorations so we have a committee that decorates the house for that very purpose.”
Children could buck the trend of visiting Santa Claus and meet the Winter Princess at the Anderson Center for the Arts.
“It’s something we do every year instead of Santa,” said center education coordinator Holly Rennaker. “Kids can meet with her and have their picture taken and each of them receives a special gift as well.”
The center also hosted works from numerous artists and organizers. Children had their choice of different countries to learn about in the basement. Then they were given an opportunity to make their own art about that country.
“Winterfest is something everyone downtown is doing together as part of a group,” Rennaker said. “So this is our part. We want everyone to come and have fun and experience everything here at the art center.”
The Central Christian Church fed visitors as its part of the festival. A chili dinner was held in the basement of the church for anyone who stopped by.
Pastor Rick Vale said the dinner has been part of Winterfest since it started 17 years ago.
The church added a craft bazaar this year, Vale said, and all the money raised goes to the church’s Christian education department.
“This has been a tradition for a long time,” Vale said. “And it’s perfect for people to get in and get out quickly if they want so they can see the rest of downtown. It’s especially good for a day like this year when it’s rainy but not icy or snowy.”
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