Miracles at Main and Market Street an evening to build family memories

NAPPANEE — Like the movie “Miracle on 34th Street” the beauty and joy of the Christmas holiday can be experienced at Nappanee’s annual Miracles at Main and Market Street. Unlike the film however, the event is less like a personal renewal than a reminder of the meaning of the season and the opportunity to gather with friends and family to build memories that will last a lifetime.
The event began five years ago, after a tornado attempted to devastate the celebratory mood of the holidays. Mayor Larry Thompson wanted to bring the community together and celebrate the spirit as well as encourage others to join in festivities with the people of Nappanee. He formed a committee, headed by his wife Linda, to manage the holiday event.
“The first two years we held it the first weekend in December,” she explained, “but since we moved it into November we’ve had better weather and a bigger turnout.”
The day of the event — this year Saturday, Nov. 17 — Nappanee businesses participate with a contest for kids (that must be accompanied by an adult). Children take flight on foot to each business participating to either play games, partake of delectable goodies and or to collect stickers on a sheet to enter them in a drawing for gift certificates (redeemable at area retailers) while parents shop the local deals.
Participants of the Miracles at Main and Market Street’s Christmas Parade will line up at 6:30 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club on Marion Street and the parade will begin at 7 p.m. Those that want to watch should line the route — from the Club, south down Main Street, to Lincoln Street, where it will turn west and then end.
Parade entrants are asked to collect entry forms at Nappanee City Hall, the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce, or call Linda Thompson at 574-773-4196. Entries should be sent in before Nov. 9 and parade participants can compete in the following categories: Best Commercial Entry, Best Walking Unit, Best Float, and Best of Parade. Thompson explained that this is the first year for judging entrants and that a small panel of community members will bear the difficult task of selecting the winners.
“In the past we’ve had about 25 entries but we’re hoping for more,” she said. “We have some return groups not from Nappanee, the 4-H Llama Club and a baton group out of Goshen. Most are from Nappanee of course, but all are welcome.”
She said what most struck her of the paraders of the past were the little ones involved. “There was a group of nursery school students and they walked the parade route shouting, ‘happy birthday Jesus!’; it was beautiful,” she said. “It just warms your heart.”
The parade will also feature a live nativity (including a donkey and camel) and NorthWood’s Red Regiment band. Santa’s reindeer and Jingle the Elf are expected to return to join in the fun, and Santa Clause himself is scheduled to make an appearance. 
If the colorfully-lit entrants and displays of goodwill and camaraderie of the parade don’t put you in the holiday mood, the candlelight service and entertainment (along with offerings of cookies, roasted chestnuts, and hot chocolate) following the parade (at the train depot parking lot — located in the 200 block of South Main St.) surely will.
“There’s a kid at heart in all of us and families will enjoy Santa and the elves, the parade and the vocal groups and that,” Thompson explained, describing the scenes that await participants. “It’s something for families and friends and neighbors to gather and usher in the season … and it doesn’t cost a thing.”
But then there’s what she and many others perceive as the highlight of the evening — the candlelight service.
“It’s very moving as the Mayor reads ‘The Christmas Story’ and you look out at the literally hundreds of people with their lit candles singing ‘Silent Night.’ It reminds us that it’s Jesus’ birthday and offers the celebration of fellowship with one another. It’s just beautiful.”