BERNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Cities trying to liven up their downtowns could take some pointers Berne, Indiana. Not long ago the town held its annual Weinacht Festival, with all downtown stores open late and all of them decorated for Christmas.
The festival marks the first official shopping day of the season with a family reunion, family of Berne that is, coming together for face painting and popcorn and a petting zoo, and of course a visit with old St. Nick himself.
“We do a lot for the kids,” says Amy McDonald, “because they’re our future. So if we can keep the kids coming downtown then the future of downtown is brighter.”
Main street is decked out for the holidays and the stores couldn’t be more beautiful. This night isn’t all about commerce though. In between store visits folks take the holiday trolley to the live manger exhibit for a reminder of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. Folks in this town love the celebration but they also take pains to ensure everyone is included.
“They help people that are unable to buy gifts and food items and so forth for their children,” says resident Ernie Steiner. “They farm out the names to people that are able to and that way children get gifts.”
Meanwhile the crowd is forming up at the new, awesome community gathering place, the Munsterberg clock tower with its bells and glockenspiel and chimes, setting the holiday tone for the lighting of the town Christmas tree.
It’s a beautiful, communal start to the holiday season here in Berne, a town that understands that commerce isn’t just about selling. It’s about nurturing, too, and passing those lessons on down the line from generation to generation.
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