Old-fashioned: Houghton bringing back Victorian Christmas

Gazette file photo Holiday revelers display 19th-century fashions during Houghton’s inaugural Victorian Christmas in 2017. A hit last year, the event returns for the second go-round on Dec. 15.

HOUGHTON — From Christmas cards to Santa Claus, much of what people associate with a traditional Christmas came from the Victorians.

Houghton will celebrate that epochal era for the holiday with its own Victorian Christmas on Dec. 15, when it holds its second annual Victorian Christmas.

The Christmas event goes from 4-7 p.m. throughout the downtown.

“We want to make it big,” said Houghton Police Lt. Nick Roberts, who organized it. “We’re proud of it. We want people to get the feeling of Christmas. Whatever we can do as a community to get people in town for this, we’d like to do.”

Eight burn barrels will be placed throughout the downtown, where people can huddle and warm their hands. The Salvation Army will have bellringers in historical garb.

Aiding the vintage feel will be the Portage Lake District Library, which will hold demonstrations on old-fashioned ways of candle-dipping. The city is also sponsoring sleigh rides around the downtown.

As a snack, the city will serve up small hot beef sandwiches at the city center.

“We’re not going to be filling people up, because we do want them to go out and go to the restaurants downtown, do some shopping downtown and have fun downtown also,” Roberts said. “It’s just before Christmas, so I’m assuming there’s a lot of people who need to get some shopping done.”

The night will conclude with a tree lighting at Bridgeview Park at 6:30 p.m., including Christmas carols around the tree.

“If anyone needs to get their Christmas cards done, that is the perfect setting for a family picture,” Roberts said.

People are encouraged to dress up in their best Victorian garb. Roberts hopes to have at least 40 to 50 people.

“That’s kind of the key to making this successful, getting people dressed up in that era,” he said.

Michigan Technological University’s theater department will have 15 students walking around, while Houghton High School’s drama department will have more than 10 students.

From 2-4 p.m., the Carnegie Museum will host an event for children where they can build gingerbread houses. Santa will appear there before appearing at the Victorian Christmas. Hot chocolate and other refreshments will be available.

Roberts also encourages people to bring toys to Joey’s for its Toys for Tots program.

“It’s a good cause, and anybody that brings in a present over $5, we give them a $5 gift certificate to the restaurant,” said manager Scott Lindgren.

Houghton’s celebration got its start two years ago, when Roberts was visiting downstate Greenfield Village with his family. It hosts an annual Victorian-inspired Christmas event.

“It was very well put together, and I thought we had the perfect historical downtown for something like that,” he said.

He brought the idea to the city, which agreed to try the event. The first year was a huge success, Roberts said.

“We had a lot of people that dressed up in Victorian-era clothing and walked around the downtown” he said. “It was very Victorianesque, so we decided to do it again this year.”

Roberts thinks this year’s event could be the antidote to 2018’s long, exhausting summer.

“People had other things on their mind during that time, so we want this to be something that takes your mind off what happened and get us back on track,” Roberts said.

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