On Nov. 14, Old Webster had its Holiday Open House. Visitors could see Santa, stop by local shops and hop on carriage rides.
If you walked down Lockwood Avenue this past Sunday, you may have passed bustling crowds, heard the clip-clop of horse hooves and seen jolly old Saint Nick himself.
The Old Webster Holiday Open House took place on Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Old Webster Business District and the Old Webster Trade Association helped sponsor the event.
Visitors could check out local businesses, hop on free carriage or trolley rides, stop to watch carolers, take photos with Santa and more.
Fran Sudekum, who described herself as a lifelong Webster resident, helped at the event’s information booth. She said the Holiday Open House has taken place for 35 years and was started by the owners of Rolling Ridge Nursery.
“Nobody was open on a Sunday and it was just literally an open house, so people could learn who was here and meet the business owners,” Sudekum said.
Sudekum said she felt like turnout may have been higher than previous years and many people from outside of Webster Groves stopped by the information booth.
“I love seeing that – people just coming from all over,” Sudekum said. “There are some people who have moved out of town and they come back for this every year because it’s just tradition.”
The event has become a family tradition for 14-year-old Sophia Oldani and her 11-year-old sister Anna. The sisters said they came to the event with their family for the past six or seven years.
For Sophia, the crafts were her favorite part of the Holiday Open House as a child. For Anna, the event’s “Christmas Spirit” was the best part.
“It kind of gets everybody in the Christmas spirit I feel like, which is kind of nice,” Anna said.
The family had taken a horse-drawn carriage ride, which Anna described as fun and relaxing.
Near where the Oldanis got off their carriage ride, Stephanie Cummins roasted marshmallows over an open fire with her children and family friends. She said it was the first time she had visited the Holiday Open House.
Cummins said the children had a great time when they stopped by the “Balloon Fun” area and visited Santa. Cummins then asked her daughter what her favorite part of the event was.
“Everything,” She echoed the reply. “Everything was your favorite part!”
Cummins said she hoped to visit the Holiday Open House again in the future.
Allison Hippe, from Regions Bank, also helped out at the information table. She said the bank opened its Webster Groves branch in April 2020.
She said along with carriage rides and saying hi to Santa, people could also drop off their letters to Santa.
“The Webster-Kirkwood Times is going to publish some of the really good [letters] and then the box goes into the gazebo, where it is going to be for Christmas,” Hippe said.
While the sidewalks were full of families and fun, last year was a different story. The 2020 event did not take place due to COVID-19.
Hippe thought the missed year was partly responsible for a turnout she described as “phenomenal.”
Sudekum said many parts of the event – even in years past – take place outdoors. This year, she said children sat in front of Santa for pictures, rather than on his lap.
“I missed it last year,” Sudekum said. “I’m glad it’s back, and this is just such a great way to kick off everybody’s Christmas season.”