Ah, the holidays. Generally perceived as a time for stuffy obligations, Des Moines finds a way to make the whole season cool. I mean, really cool. Last night was the East Village Holiday Promenade, a holiday kick-off celebration in one of our most fun downtown neighborhoods. The East Village is filled with boutiques, restaurants, and all kinds of shops and entertainment. So every year, they celebrate the coming December by keeping everything open late. The shops are filled with cozy holiday carols, free samples of food and drinks, and some great sales.
So, for the second year in a row, some of my friends and I bundled up and headed downtown for all the festivities. We walked around the tree-lined streets decorated with all kinds of beautiful holiday lights and decorations. While we shopped and scouted out all the free food and drinks, carolers roamed around, horse drawn carriages conducted rides in the streets, and ballerinas from Ballet Des Moines performed selections from The Nutcracker. So, yeah, it was pretty idyllic. Kind of like if a Dickensian Christmas village was populated with glamorous, hip young professionals.
But the great thing about the evening was that all of Des Moines came out. There definitely was the attractive, hip crowd who looked like they were modeling for Ray Ban. But there were also tons of families with young kids in strollers who provided the necessary dose of childhood holiday cuteness. On the other side of the spectrum, we also saw plenty of older folks roaming around enjoying the festivities, including a troupe of elderly tap dancers.
The whole experience was just representative of Des Moines as a whole. It’s a big enough city to have cool events like the Holiday Promenade and a wide population to come to them. Yet, it’s small enough that everyone was perfectly friendly and lovely as if we were just part of a small-town holiday a la Gilmore Girls. At these kinds of events, you’re bound to see a few people you know mixed in with the crowd. Last night, I alone saw four different current students and Drake grads I knew from campus out enjoying the East Village. And if that kind of community feeling doesn’t day “holiday season” I don’t know what does.