Written and Photos by: Matt McGraw
The bustling avenues are packed with merry folks bundled up and perusing the wares that smiling merchants have on display for sale. Families mingle with one another and pose for photos while admiring all of the festive ornaments and decorations that surround them. Horse-drawn carriages circle the gem of festivities in Center City as the smell of traditional German foods like pretzels, strudels, cheeses and bratwurst fill the air. Yes, the Christmas Village has returned once again to Philadelphia’s Love Park.
Usually not beginning until after Thanksgiving, the city’s eighth annual Christmas Village opened for a first-ever preview weekend from Nov. 21-22, in order to showcase it’s roughly 70 vendors, get people in the holiday spirit, and of course, give visitors an extra weekend of shopping at the village.
Although some aspects of the Christmas Village weren’t up and running during the preview weekend like live music, the kid’s zone and the Santa House; vendors were out in force and people were certainly buying.
“It’s great to be open the extra weekend, especially with the marathon happening,” said Jenna Greb, a vendor at one of the two Chaddsford Winery market stalls. The timing of the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday Nov. 22 coincided nicely with the second day of the Christmas Village preview weekend and certainly helped to boost sales and bring extra customers, who were already in the city for the race, to the stands.
“People really like the mulled wine and the mugs. We’ve been busy most of the day,” Gleb said.
Another food vendor at the event was Mark Jackson who worked at the German food stand selling bratwurst, schnitzel and pretzels. One of a number of people working at this event-sponsored booth, Jackson and his coworkers would take turns serving food at the counter and working the grill in the back.
“It’s not a bad job,” he says as he turns over bratwursts on the grill, “you don’t make a lot of money, but it’s fun to be a part of this whole thing.”
Gleb and Jackson are just two of the many vendors who were selling their wares over the weekend and will continue to sell until the end of the Christmas Village on December 27. There are around 70 booths set up, each with their own unique items. From toys and art to jewelry and clothing, food is certainly not the only thing being sold at the Christmas Village. But whether you’re looking for good food, holiday presents or just a fun place to spend time with friends or family, the Philadelphia Christmas Village is the place for you.