Metro-East Living

Christmas events culminate with Christkindlmarket, live reindeer, Polar Express and more

It ain’t easy being Santa

So you think Santa Claus has it easy until Christmas Eve? Watch kids (of all ages) react as they visit with Santa at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, North Carolina - and be sure to catch the end!
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So you think Santa Claus has it easy until Christmas Eve? Watch kids (of all ages) react as they visit with Santa at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, North Carolina - and be sure to catch the end!

Noon Thursday, Dec. 20, is the deadline to appear in next week’s What’s Happening. We must receive your event in writing with a contact phone number for questions. Due to the large number of submissions, non-profit events may run only one time in print, will be edited and appear in the week before the event date.

Email: Mail to: Lifestyle, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Questions, call Jennifer Green at 618-239-2643.


5th Annual Belleville Christkindlmarkt — 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday. Downtown Belleville Public Square. This authentic German-style, open-air Christmas market is open for the season and features international vendors, local artists, German food and drinks. Last day is Dec. 23. Live reindeer, chalet rides, vendors, food, entertainment and much more. Visit for daily hours and a full schedule of events.

Diva’s Night Out — 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20. Start at Abe’s Gourmet Popcorn, 101 E. Main St., Belleville. Ends with party and prizes at Big Daddy’s 618, 313 E. Main St., Belleville, at 8 p.m. Sip, shop and support downtown Belleville. Theme: Ugly Christmas Sweaters. Cost: $5 per person. Supporting Belleville Area Humane Society.

The Polar Express Train Ride — 4:30, 6, 7:15 and 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 30. St. Louis Union Station, 1820 Market St., St. Louis. Experience the magic of “The Polar Express” with a 45-minute train ride adventure to the North Pole.

Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park — 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. through Dec. 30. Tilles Park, 9551 Litzsinger Road, St. Louis. Open to vehicular traffic every day except Mondays and Saturdays. Closed Dec. 24. Cost: $10 per vehicle; cash or check only. Carriage rides and walks available.

2nd Annual Polar Express Night — 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Caseyville Public Library, 419 S. Second St., Caseyville. Join us in your pajamas, slippers and robes for a night of holiday fun. Hot chocolate (coffee and tea for adults) and cookies will be served 6 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., the classic book “Polar Express” will be read followed by a showing of the movie. Hot chocolate and cookies available during and after the movie. Children will get a treat bag with an extra special gift inspired by the movie. 618-345-5848.

‘The Science of “Star Wars”’ — 7:30 to 9 p.m. Friday. Washington University, McDonnell Hall, Room 162, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis. An illustrated presentation by Dr. Pamela Gay of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific on the science of “Star Wars.” Parking available. Free and open to the public.

Friday from 2 to 5 p.m. is the public’s last chance to see the live reindeer at the Christkindlmarkt. The market will be open through Sunday. BND File Photo

Metro East Model Railroad Club Open House — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Old Glen Carbon Fire House/Village Hall, 180 Summit St., Glen Carbon. Watch the trains running on the club’s 18-by-27-foot HO scale model railroad. Free admission.

Belleville Christkindlmarkt Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Class — 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. Downtown Belleville Public Square, in the heated tent. Limited seating. Free but pre-registration required at 1 Candy Cane Lane. Last shopping day Dec. 23.

New Shining Light Church 18th Annual No Child Left Behind Without Christmas Toys — 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Doors open 1 p.m. Every child will get free toys for Christmas. Free food baskets. Drawing for free gas cards. Bicycle giveaway. Boys and girls coats giveaway. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 618-530-2347, 618-558-6143 or 618-541-2534.

Christmas Cantata — 10:30 a.m. Sunday. First United Presbyterian Church, 1303 Royal Heights Road, Belleville. Familiar carols and poignant reading designed to illuminate the true meaning of Christmas. 618-233-0295.

Celebrate Raja’s 26th Birthday — 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 27. St. Louis Zoo, One Government Drive, St. Louis. The St. Louis Zoo’s bull elephant Raja will receive special presents to stomp open for this 26th birthday. Visitors are invited to sing “Happy Birthday” and cheer for Raja. Visitors can sign a giant birthday card and learn more about elephants and elephant conservation until 1 p.m. Birthday cupcakes and hot chocolate will be available for purchase.

Raja, the first Asian elephant born at the St. Louis Zoo, celebrates his 26th birthday Thursday, Dec. 27 at the Zoo. Visitors are invited to help celebrate. Derik Holtmann


Christmas Dinner with St. Vincent de Paul — 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20. Cosgrove’s Kitchen, St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Ministry, 3718 State St., East St. Louis. Visit with Santa, Christmas carols, gifts for all.

Aviston Legion Fish and Chicken Fry — 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday. American Legion Post 1239, 601 S. Clinton, Aviston. Cod, catfish, shrimp, chicken strips, fried chicken, sides. Eat in or carryout. 618-228-7311 or

Caseyville Fish Fry — 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Caseyville VFW Post 1117, 415 N. Long, Caseyville. Fish plates, desserts, sandwiches, burgers and more. Bingo at 7 p.m.

Collinsville Fish Fry — 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, Collinsville American Legion, 1022 Vandalia St., Collinsville. North Atlantic cod, whole catfish, sides, desserts. 618-345-2508.

Collinsville Fish Fry — 4 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. Knights of Columbus Hall, 1 Columbus Plaza, Collinsville. Eat in or carryout. Fried/baked cod, catfish, sides. 618-345-1492.

Highland Fish Fry — 4 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. VFW Post 5694, 1900 VFW Road, Highland. Eat in or carryout. 618-654-6367.

Mascoutah Fish Fry — 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Mascoutah VFW Post 7682, 620 Donaphan St., Mascoutah. Dine in or carryout. 618-566-2288.

Millstadt Fish Fry and Jam Session — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Millstadt VFW Post, 200 Veterans Drive, Millstadt. 618-476-1180.

All-You-Can-Eat Fried Chicken – 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Millstadt VFW Post, 200 Veterans Drive, Millstadt. 618-476-1180.

O’Fallon Fish Fry — 4 to 8 p.m. Friday. Knights of Columbus Hall, 402 E. U.S. 50, O’Fallon. Cod and tilapia, burgers, hot dogs, pork steaks, pizza, sides. Eat in or carryout. Now accepting credit cards. 618-632-6229.

O’Fallon Fish and Chicken Fry — 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. O’Fallon American Legion, 109 N. Penn, O’Fallon. Carryouts available. 618-632-8879.

Shiloh Fish Fry — 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. 100 Eagle Drive, Shiloh. Cod, walleye, catfish, shrimp, chicken wings. Eat in or carryout. Auxiliary bake sale for charity. 618-624-5412.

Swansea Fish Stand – 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 216 Service St., Swansea. Cod, walleye, catfish, shrimp and more. Saturday: fried chicken. 618-222-7171.

Troy VFW Fish Fry — 4 to 7 p.m. Friday. Troy VFW Post 976 and Auxiliary, 123-A W. Market St., Troy. Cod, catfish, jack salmon, baked fish, chicken strips, shrimp. Dine in or carry out. 618-667-8387.

Waterloo VFW Fish Fry — 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. Metzger Crook Post 6504, 406 Veterans Drive, Waterloo. Sold by the pound, sandwich or plate. Cod, catfish, walleye, salmon and shrimp. Carryouts. 618-939-7999.


Bridge — 11:45 a.m. Thursday. Collinsville Senior Center, 420 E. Main St., Collinsville. To participate, must have played bridge before. 618-310-1289.

Cribbage Club — 6:30 p.m. Thursday. 1 Columbus Plaza, KC Club, Collinsville. Nine games played against nine different opponents. Yvonne Bright 618-344-1521 or John Bilski 618-398-1029.

Euchre Tournament — 7 p.m. Friday. Everyone welcome. Smithton Senior Center, 711 S. Main, Smithton. Partner night. 618-233-3370.

Club News

TOPS IL592 Weight Loss Group — 7 p.m. Every Thursday. St. John UCC, Faith Hall Entrance, 307 West Clay, Collinsville. Weigh-in 6:30 p.m. 618-345-6218.

M.U.S.I.C. Swing Dance Club — 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. VFW Hall, 1234 Vandalia St., Collinsville. One hour free lesson with paid admission. First-time guests get in free. Doors open 5 p.m. Lessons start 5:30 p.m. Dance 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

IBEW #649 Retired Members Club — 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 27. Eagles Nest Restaurant, 117 E. Bethalto Drive, Bethalto. Monthly breakfast meeting. A morning of food and friendship. 618-656-7593.

Fairview Heights Woman’s Club — 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 27. Caseyville Township Building, 10001 Bunkum Road, Fairview Heights. Holiday party. The Board of Officers will be hostesses for the holiday party dinner. Each member is to bring a covered dish.

Reservations Required

Metro East Social Singles New Year’s Eve Dinner & Dance — 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31. Shiloh Eagles, 100 Eagle Drive, Belleville. Puttin’ on the Ritz – Roaring 20s Style (optional wear). Dinner 7 p.m. Dance 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Music by Dr. Dee. Cash attendance prizes, noisemakers, cash bar. Cost: $30 for dinner and dance, $15 dance only. Reservations by Dec. 26; call 618-632-5361.

Gateway Outdoor Summit — 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11. St. Louis Union Station Hotel, 1820 Market St., St. Louis. The region’s opportunity to see what’s been achieved in outdoor recreation, to imagine what’s possible and to begin the conversation to building the outdoor culture. Free event. Limited space available. Register by Jan. 9. For more information:

McGinnis Heating and Cooling Indoor Golf Tournament — 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12. Top Shooters, 531 Old State Route 3, Columbia. Teams of two. Spots available for $60 per person. Proceeds to benefit McGinnis Veterans Program. Silent auction. For more information or to register: 618-406-1445 or 618-628-3907.

National Geographic Live: “When Women Ruled the World” — 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23. Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, 400 N. Alton St., Lebanon. Explore the realms of powerful ancient queens with Egyptologist Dr. Kara Cooney. Information 618-537-6097 or


The Saint Louis Chamber Chorus: ‘Fulfillment – An Irish Christmas’ — 3 p.m. Sunday. St. James the Greater Catholic Church, 6401 Wade Ave., St. Louis. The third concert of the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus’ 63rd season features Irish melodies with universal appeal. Tickets: $40 general admission, $10 for students. To purchase tickets: 636-458-4343 or

$2 Movies at the Wildey: ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ — 7 p.m. Sunday. Wildey Theatre, 252 North Main St., Edwardsville. Tickets only available the day of the show one hour before showtime. Cash or check only. (Charge/Debit cards accepted for concessions) All seats general admission.

‘Anastasia’ at the Fabulous Fox Theatre — 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26. The Fabulous Fox, 527 North Grand Blvd., St. Louis. This new Broadway musical set in 1920s Paris tells the story of a young woman who sets out to discover her past. Production runs through Jan. 6.

Global Comedy Sensation Jeff Dunham — 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis. Don’t miss this performance, part of comedian Jeff Dunham’s “Passively Aggressive” Tour. Tickets: $49-$65; VIP $151.

Worth the Drive

Art Exhibition: ‘The Sentimental Landscape’ by Dimitrina Stamboldjiev Kutriansky — 6 to 10 p.m. Friday. Third Degree Glass Factory, 5200 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis. Opening reception. Exhibit runs through Jan. 15.

Lunch to Go — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Holy Dormition Orthodox Parish, 300 N. 4th St., Benld. Cabbage rolls, cabbage noodles or meat crepe. Served with two sides. Nut and poppy seed rolls. Perogies and pelmeni. Dinners $8 or order a la carte. Pre-orders available by calling 217-371-9241 or 217-839-7220, please leave message.

Berean Christian Church Annual Candlelight Service — 10 p.m. Monday. Berean Christian Church 1530 Illinois Ave., Murphysboro. The yearly service focuses attention on the true meaning of Christmas with a short sermon. Includes singing of traditional carols. Communion will be offered. All are welcome.