Polar Express Christmas Tree Trail Lighting Ceremony and Wassail Festival on Thursday – The Madison Record

MADISON – The Christmas season in downtown Madison kicks off this week with the first of several special events planned to celebrate the holidays.

On Thursday, December 2 at 6 p.m., the Polar Express Christmas Tree Trail will be lit up on Main Street. The Madison City Community Orchestra will perform. Madison Public Library staff will read “The Polar Express”.

A New Tradition for the City will debut after the lighting ceremony with the first annual Downtown Madison Wassail Fest on December 2.

Merchants in downtown Madison partnered with the Madison Station Historical Preservation Society to sponsor the event. Wassail Fest will begin at 6 p.m., immediately following the tree lighting for Madison Station Polar Express Christmas on Main. All the festivities are free to the public.

The historical society has designated the center of activities on Main and Church streets after the trees are lit, Tammy Hall said. Hall owns the Main Street Cafe.

Store and business owners will open their doors to serve samples of wassail, which consists of spiced cider served hot. Visitors can vote for the wassail they consider to have the best taste as merchants vie to boast of the best tasting recipe in town. The winner for the best wassail recipe will be announced by December 6.

Lucky visitors will have the chance to win door prizes.

“Come taste, shop and be festive! We hope to provide Madison and surrounding areas with a festive evening to kick off the holiday season, ”said Hall.

The companies participating in Wassail Fest are Old Black Bear, Noble Passage Interiors, Balch Realty, Main Street Cafe, Lemon & Lavender, Filthy Gorgeous, South & Pine, Madison Station Antiques, The House of Pilates, Hook and Frog and Pure Barre.

The 2021 Madison Christmas Parade, coordinated by the Madison Parks and Recreation Department, will fill the streets on December 11 at 5 p.m.

Parade units will line up on Plaza Drive and head south on Hughes Road to the Insanity Complex at 100 Skate Park Drive. The rainy date for the parade will be December 12 at 2 p.m.

In other events, the city and the historical society will present the third annual Madison Christmas Capers on December 12 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Lifetime Residents will pick up the legend again with “Doc” Hughes throwing live chickens from the roof of his pharmacy to spectators below.

The custom of Christmas capers began in 1925 when George Walton ‘Doc’ Hughes rented the Humphrey-Hughes property at 200 Main Street in downtown Madison. Doc Hughes opened his pharmacy business there, which he operated until 1972.

During the Great Depression years of the early 1930s, Hughes started a holiday tradition dubbed “Christmas Chicken Capers,” according to “Madison Station, Historic Downtown Madison, 1856-2015” by the Madison Station Historical Preservation Society .

On Christmas Eve, ‘Doc’ Hughes threw live chickens off the roof of his business. The chickens had tags attached to their legs, and people could exchange the tags for prizes in Hughes’ store. Everyone who caught the chickens (sometimes turkeys, some people say) got the prizes and saved the chicken for Christmas dinner.

In recent years, Christmas chicken capers have grown from live chickens to rubber chickens with gift cards from local retail stores.

At 4 p.m., Doc Hughes’ grandsons Larry and Walt Anderson will re-enact the legend by throwing rubber chickens with gift certificates strapped to their legs from the balcony of the Hughes Drug Store. Gift certificates are valued in the thousands of dollars.

The Madison Rotary Club will serve free hot chocolate and cookies. The Madison City Community Orchestra will entertain the crowd.

The Christmas Capers will continue when the city and Torch Technologies present the second “Madison’s Christmas Night at the Movies”. The free film will screen at Home Place Park at 5:30 p.m. Parking will be available at Madison City Schools Stadium.

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