ST CHARLES, Mo. — At 11 a.m. on Black Friday, St. Charles Christmas Traditions' "Town Crier" called everyone to gather around the Kister Park Gazebo.
Beloved holiday characters like Jack Frost, Scrooge and the Sugar Plum Fairy welcomed visitors to the 45th Christmas Traditions.
Once Santa arrived, the festival was officially underway.
Crowds rushed across the street to Grandma's Cookies, a business that's been on Main Street for 43 years.
After warming up with Grandma's hot cocoa and filling up on one of their big cookies, people dispersed to shop, shop, shop!
Main Street St. Charles has multiple locally-owned small businesses, many run by people born and raised in town.
Ali Warren is one of those locals, she and her husband own Joys. The eclectic market takes up two buildings on Main st. and is completely decked out for the holidays.
"We love this time of year," Warren said, "We bring everything out."
She really means everything, decorations hang from the ceilings, holiday trinkets line the shelves and their courtyard is chock-full of wintry home adornments.
"The reason we are here is because of the locals and people who come from out of town to St. Charles," Warren explains, "It really does support your community, we literally wouldn't be here if it wasn't for people shopping local."
St. Charles native Sarah Kelly was out shopping and snagged a Main Street Christmas Traditions shirt from Happy Camper.
"It's so important to shop small and support our local small businesses," Kelly said, "I'm a small business, so I get it."
Kelly also shared a pro tip with newcomers to St. Charles Christmas Traditions.
"My favorite part is the chestnuts, I always take my friends to try them."
During festival hours, chestnuts are roasted over an open fire by Brittish Cockney-accented, costumed characters. It is $1 for 2 freshly roasted chestnuts. The stand is just past the Mad Hatter Antique restaurant.
If you're new chestnut eating, the crew will teach you how to eat them. First, peel off the shell. Then, look for the yellow meat and bite in. Roasted chestnuts taste like a mix between a potato and a peanut.
Also during special times, Santa Claus is available for pictures at Katy Depot. Christmas cartoons play in the queue line, letters to Santa decorate the ceiling and there's even a reindeer hall of fame at the exit.
Kids and adults enjoy collecting cards from the characters of St. Charles Christmas Traditions. There are 39 commemorative trading cards for the 2019 season.
Most spirits will hand over the cards, but Scrooge may require a bit of persuading or the correct answer to a trivia question.
St. Charles Christmas Traditions runs multiple days through December 24. The celebration wraps up with pep rally-style send-off for Santa as he heads back to the North Pole for Christmas eve night.