Port to get in holiday spirit with weekend of family events

Christmas on the Corner, tree lighting, fireworks planned for downtown
Ozaukee Press staff

Port Washington’s holiday season will officially begin this weekend with activities that include the annual Polar Express children’s celebration and Christmas on the Corner, which includes not just merchant sales and open houses but also the city’s tree lighting, holiday parade and fireworks Saturday, Dec. 7.

Both events are a tradition for many families, a way to kick off the holiday season.

“Who doesn’t love to get bundled up and do family things before Christmas?” asked Melissa Alexander, executive director of Port Main Street Inc., which sponsors Christmas on the Corner. “This is one of our favorite festivals because it is so family oriented.”

In addition, the winter farmers market will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Inventors BrewPub and the Niederkorn Library will hold a family fun day with activities that include a used book sale, craft project, meet and greet and photos with book characters Elephant and Piggie and refreshments from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Polar Express will be held throughout the morning at the North Pole, aka the Cedarburg Community Gym.

Just as the young boy did in Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 award-winning book on which the event is based, each child will visit with Santa and receive the first gift of Christmas, a bell.

Elves and other costumed characters will help youngsters navigate the North Pole, where they will visit Mr. Claus’ workshop, make reindeer food, create holiday masterpieces in the coloring art area, write and mail letters to Santa, decorate Christmas cookies and enjoy them with milk and hot chocolate.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit and pose for pictures with youngsters, and children will go home with their photos as mementoes.

The $6 tickets, which are designed to be keepsakes, are required to enter the trolley, buses and gym. They must be purchased in advance at the Port Washington, Grafton and Cedarburg parks and recreation departments and at the Port Washington State Bank branches in Port, Grafton and Cedarburg. Children ages 2 and younger will be admitted free. Adults must accompany children who are in fifth grade or younger.

Christmas on the Corner, which this year follows the theme Santa’s Workshop, runs from 3 to 7 p.m. It kicks off with merchant sales, including the sale of small Port Washington tins being sold by Port Main Street Inc.

The tins feature an image of the city’s Christmas tree with St. Mary’s Church steeple in the background taken by local photographer Eric Curtin, and it will be filled with coupons from local businesses offering deals that are valid in many cases through spring.

“This is a perfect Port stocking stuffer,” said Lindzy Willborn, who is spearheading the project, noting the tins are 3-by-4 inches. 

The tins will be offered for $15 and will have roughly $25 in coupons inside, she said. Businesses selling them will have posters outside, and if they don’t sell out Saturday, the tins will be available throughout the season.

Larger tins have been sold by Port Main Street in the past, Willborn said.

“There were lots of people who loved them,” she said.

Throughout the festival, youngsters are invited to participate in the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt. Participants will scour designated downtown shops to find the Elf on the Shelf hidden within, then turn in sheets denoting their finds for a drawing. 

Visitors may catch a ride on a horse-drawn wagon at the corner of West Grand Avenue and South Wisconsin Street and enjoy a ride through the heart of the city. Rides are $5 per person and $20 for a family.

Children can write their holiday letters and mail them to Santa via a special mailbox at the post office on East Main Street. Youngsters who write their letters at home can mail then at the box, but are asked to make sure their return address is on the envelope.

They can also decorate cookies at Daily Baking Co. and decorate ornaments at the Arts Council.

Children’s crafts will also be part of the event.

Santa will be at Port Washington State Bank’s Lakeview Community Room at the corner of Main and Franklin streets, ready to hear children’s wish lists and pose for photos with youngsters. 

Live reindeer will be on Main Street near Franklin Street, where visitors may have their pictures taken with the animals.

A decorated sleigh on the east end of Main Street along the north slip marina is another scenic backdrop for families who want to take a festive photograph.

Jim Biever, who was the official Green Bay Packers photographer for decades, will be at the Shoppes of Port Washington from 2 to 4 p.m. to sign copies of his book “100 Years in Titletown.”

The tree lighting and caroling are scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Port Washington Mayor Marty Becker and his family will light the tree.

The festival theme will be highlighted during the Christmas parade, which follows the tree lighting. The parade will kick off at the corner of Jackson and Franklin streets, head south on Franklin Street to Grand Avenue and proceed west on Grand Avenue to Milwaukee Street, where it will end.

  The highlight will be the official arrival of Santa Claus on a sleigh atop the Main Street float.

Following the parade, the crowd will move toward Rotary Park to view holiday fireworks, the only winter fireworks show in Ozaukee County.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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