Christmas Past offers free family activities
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · November 30, 2012

On Friday night, an ice sculptor will show his skills outside Main Street West Branch’s office at 111 East Main Street. Christmas Past visitors may come and watch him carve formations from three blocks of ice. One sculpture will have a holiday theme. But that’s all you can know.

The rest is a surprise.

“He likes to carve at eye-level to explain what he is doing,” MSWB Program Director Mackenzie (Edwards) Krob said. “It’s a pretty good interactive process.”

The annual Christmas Past celebration, Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, involved lots of behind-the-scenes preparations, as always, but this year even more is going into decorations. Exterior decorations started going up more than a week ago, like Christmas lights, and organizers have spent “quite a few hours” creating 3-D snowflakes and passing them out.

“It’s to give a cohesive look to the downtown,” Krob said. “Several people have asked ‘How do we make them?’”

The event gets its kickoff 6 p.m. Friday with the lighting of the Christmas Tree at the Village Green. Janlyn Slach with the Hoover Library-Museum said the University of Iowa’s Collegium Tubum — tuba players — will play carols there, then move to provide music at the brick fireplaces at the intersection of Main and Downey.

The craft show has a new name this year: Art Market. And the hours have shifted to 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday to better accomodate the crowds, she said.

“We’re excited to have new vendors through our connections with farmers markets, artists, photographers — there’s also homemade jewelry and other things of that nature,” Krob said.

A few things are moving, too, to make better use of space. Gibson’s model trains will now appear in the West Branch Fire Department to alleviate cramping in the city council chambers. The fire department is also hosting a bonfire and offering free hot dogs for roasting to complement the display, she said.

Also, West Branch High School singers will perform Saturday inside Eastern Iowa Physical Therapy, which has an open area.

The scavenger hunt for elves will return as well, and this year they will have a cowboy theme, Krob said, to fit in with the Cowboy Christmas tree display at the Hoover Library.

“I’m really looking forward to this year,” she said. “We have so many new volunteers. It’s encouraging to me as the new director and extremely rewarding. They’ve really stepped up and taken time out of their lives to do this.”

The Boys Scouts will again cook doughnuts at Heritage Square and horse-drawn wagon rides begin 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Visitor Center of the Hoover National Historic Site.

Hoover Library hours will extend from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday offering free admission to both the Christmas trees and permanent exhibits, Slach said.


For more information on Christmas Past, you may contact Main Street West Branch at 319-643-7100 or Herbert Hoover Library-Museum at 319-643-5301.

For a schedule of events, see Page 8 or visit and find a link on the right side of the page for Christmas Past.

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