HANNIBAL | As the crowd waited for dusk and the official lighting of Christmas tree at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home mall Saturday, youngsters posed for photos with Santa as their families listened to Christmas carols played by the Salvation Army Brass Band, including some led by the city's 10 Toms and Beckys. Mark Twain (Dick Waddell) also shared some stories before the tree was lit.
This accomplished, some people were ready to head for home, while others continued to enjoy the opening day of Hannibal's Victorian Festival of Christmas. This will continue each Saturday in December, with special events led by agencies including the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council and the city's bicentennial committee.
HHMC events began Saturday with the Christmas Extravaganza, selling a passport for five gifts from local merchants.
Mandy Comeau had used her passport for coffee at Java Jive and “two left foot” socks at the Mark Twain Museum gift shop. She also had a scarf from Dani Nicole's.
Small Business Saturday also was observed, and many shoppers took advantage of special purchases. Among them were Barbara Brown and her daughter, Beth Coffey of Oregon, along with a friend, Lisa Kuhn of St. Louis. Coffey was going home with pottery from Ayers, homemade root beer from the Mark Twain Dinette, and scarves from Dani Nicole's. Kuhn was already wearing a warm white vest from Dani Nicole's and also had a pair of socks from the Mark Twain Museum gift shop.
A three-generation family group was enjoying the celebration with a horse-drawn carriage ride. Dr. Cassidy Leonard-Scott, a new local pediatrician, was riding with her children, Lucy and Drew, and her mother, Cheryl Leonard.
Twain's 184th birthday party for children was hosted by the Toms and Beckys at the Mark Twain Museum Gallery, followed by a mustache contest.
Kenny Etter won for Dapper mustache. Lance Privett won for Manliest, and Peter Lebron won for best Mark Twain mustache.
Etter, who came to town from Peoria, Ill., reported he and his wife had enjoyed pizza at the Brick Oven, and it was “the best pizza I've had in a long time.”
A street musician, Austin Kohlhepp of Hannibal was playing an improvisation of “I'll Be Home for the Holidays,” on his horn, explaining he is a jazz major at Western Illinois University.
Java Jive was among the busiest North Main businesses all day. Madi Jersen reported hot chocolate was the most requested item, with special choices including toasted marshmallow and peppermint.
Hannibalians and their visitors still have three Saturdays to enjoy special Christmas events.
The Hannibal Jaycees will sponsor its Disney Winter Wonderland parade ay 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.
Children may continue to visit with Santa at his home, across North Main from the M.T. Boyhood Home. Santa's hours will be 11 a.m-4 p.m. Dec. 7; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 14; and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 21.
Also continuing through Dec. 21 is the Hannibal Arts Council's annual 99 and Under Art Sale.
See photo gallery at hannibal.net.