Organizers surprised by Christmas Market turnout
The first Christmas Market, hosted by the German American Social Club, was a huge success Saturday night, attracting a surprisingly big crowd of individuals who listened to Christmas music and shopped at various vendors while they enjoyed a variety of foods and drinks.
The Christmas Market, otherwise known as “Christkindlemarket,” is a street market celebration of Christmas in Germany, which begins four weeks before Christmas Day during Advent.
“I am surprised about the turnout,” Hubert Prem, coordinator of the event said, adding that he was not sure of how many people attended the Christmas Market.
He said by the looks of how successful the event appeared, the German American Social Club will be holding the Christmas Market again next year.
Prem said he already knows what the club needs to accomplish to make the market better and what to take away from the event.
A German American Social Club member of five years Chris Horst said the event was very successful.
“There are a lot of people here, we are just delighted,” he said. “It looks like they will do it every year.”
Hafenkapelle and Edelweiss Chorus performed Christmas carols throughout the night, while crowds gathered around at tables enjoying various German beers and wines, along with Italian sausage, philly cheese steak, hamburgers and roasted almonds.
Nora Prem, a member of the German American Social Club also sold traditional German Stollen, Pfeffer-nusse cookies and gingerbread.
“We didn’t know what to order, since it was the first Christmas Market,” Nora said.
She said although they did not know what to expect, the attendance made the event a success.
“We have had a lot of people buy,” Nora said.
Santa Claus also joined the evening’s festivities after a train dropped him off near the main stage of entertainment where he sat and listened to children of all ages sharing their wish list with him.
Various vendors also outlined the outer path of the gardens Saturday night, showcasing individual talents and Christmas gift ideas.
Social club chairperson Gisela Klein had a great deal of handcrafted items on display, which were all made by the German Ladies Society. Some of the items included blankets, towels, scarves, dolls, teddy bears, Christmas items and baby items.
Klein said the items the Gals make are sold at every function, because they are constantly making new items.
All the proceeds they make when selling their items at the various events go back to the club, she explained.
“We didn’t know what to expect during our first Christmas Market, but we have done surprisingly well,” Klein said.
Another vendor at the Christmas Market showcased shells handcrafted in a number of ways by a North Fort Myers resident who began her new hobby three years ago.
“I do shell crafts and jewelry,” Jeanie Franks said. “It’s fun to have things that are original.”
She said the shells she uses to make her items are either what she finds or what has been given to her.
“I like to be creative and I like to keep myself busy,” Franks said.
She said she did pretty well at the Christmas Market because she has very low prices and everyone can afford her things.
Brigitte Kantor had glass jewelry on display that she creates by firing it in a kiln then fusing two pieces of glass together.
She had necklaces, earrings, bracelets and bowls laid out on the table for individuals to purchase during the Christmas Market.
“Glass is my hobby,” she explained was why she began making jewelry two and a half years ago.
Kantor said she was happy with the turnout she got at her booth during the Market.
“Everybody has been interested,” she said. “You can’t really lose when everyone is having a good time.”
Many people enjoyed the free event Saturday night, due to the great Christmas music, food and drinks.
Dave and Myrna Kwiatkowski sat under a tree at a table enjoying Gluehwein, a hot-spice red wine, while listening to the music.
They both said they really enjoyed the food, beer and wine, along with watching Santa Claus being escorted around the circle in a train before being dropped off.
“All-in-all we are enjoying it,” they both said.
Both said they will attend the event next year if the German American Social Club decides to host it again.
Mike Prys and Diana Johnson also enjoyed the music at a table that surrounded the main stage in the gardens.
“I think this is great and wonderful,” Prys said about the event. “We just need warm weather.”
“The music is nice and Santa Claus is beautiful,” Johnson said.