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April 2014

16

Cooney Christmas continues downtown this weekend with parade, more vendors

Market booths, lights remain for weekend events

City of Oconomowoc - Downtown has caught the Christmas bug with a successful inaugural German Christmas Market; the holiday spirit will continue this weekend with more activities, including the Christmas parade.

German Christmas Market organizer Craig Pruscha said an estimated 17,000 to 20,000 people came through the market and visited downtown shops.

"The vendors were ecstatic. Hans sold more than 800 brats one night," Pruscha said of restaurateur Hans Weissgerber, of Weissgerber Family Restaurants, who provided the food for the event.

The excitement about the crowds around downtown was shared by downtown business owner Maureen Stapleton, who said she saw lots of people carrying bags of goods they purchased from downtown stores. She also said others remarked that they hadn't visited downtown Oconomowoc for some time and didn't realize the selection of stores the area offers.

To continue the holiday fun, the city has agreed to leave up some of the huts used in the market and the decorative lights throughout the season, Pruscha said. He said this allows vendors to come downtown on weekends to sell hot chocolate and other items.

"We are bringing many vendors back to the Village Green for the Christmas parade this Saturday. It will be open from 2 to 5 p.m. Hans will sell simple food items from his German chalet trailer. The big lighted Nut Hut will be open, selling hot roasted candied nuts, and several other vendors will be on site. St. Matthews will be there giving out free hot chocolate and will have carolers. It is a mini version of the event," said Pruscha.

Hilary De Vries, co-owner of Roots Cafe and Coffeebar, said people were very impressed with the market weekend.

"Vendors want to come back. It was a great idea to do it on Thanksgiving weekend because a lot of people came into our shop that had family in town, and this was their opportunity to show off Oconomowoc," De Vries said, adding that it just so happened that Saturday was a national effort to get people to shop locally, and the market helped achieve that. "It was an amazing feeling," she said.

DeVries, along with co-owner Heidi Laatsch, hosted a warming hut sponsored by Silgan Containers. They sold hot cocoa and cider and donated all proceeds, $3,000, to the Oconomowoc Food Pantry.

See Pruscha's letter to the editor on Page 5 for more on the success of the market weekend.

Pruscha said the event shows the potential the city's Village Green has amid plans to expand and enhance the area in coming years. "That park can be utilized in so many ways. You could have Shakespeare in the Park, movies on a barge … I think this was the catalyst," he said.

The Oconomowoc Christmas parade, sponsored by the Oconomowoc Kiwanis, begins at 3 p.m. and goes until 4 Saturday. The parade will line up on Oakwood Avenue and travel south to Wisconsin Avenue, proceeding down Wisconsin and turning left on Main Street before ending at Roosevelt Park.

After the parade, head to Roots, 124 E. Wisconsin Ave., and visit Santa from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.. He will sit for photos and take Christmas wish lists. There is no charge for the Santa visits, De Vries said, but donations for the Oconomowoc Food Pantry are welcome.

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