Friday, December 9, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas Bus Trip - Lights, Trees, Nativity Scenes, Candy Canes, and More

Last evening our parish (All Saints in St. Peters) sponsored a bus tour to several local Christmas light displays. After eating a simple, but filling, meal in the Parish Center, more than 100 brave souls, including my sister Kathleen, some of my friends from my old work, and I hopped on two large tour buses and headed out for Tilles Park in St. Louis County to drive through their Winter Wonderland light display.

Because of rush-hour traffic it took some time to finally get there, but the non-religious displays were bright and sparkly, and so much to see. There was a jumping frog, skaters, trees, carriage rides, Santa, a toy house, a Peace on Earth sign, and lots more.   The driving tour took about a half hour, and is something kids of all ages can enjoy. Admission fees range from $9.00 for a family vehicle to $75 for a bus.

After once again braving rush-hour traffic, we rode across the Mississippi into the Land of Lincoln. Our second stop was the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL, for the Way of the Lights display, which runs until Jan 1.

After climbing off our bus we headed inside, where we were greeted by a group of children performing Christmas carols. As Kathleen and I walked down the hallway, we admired the decorated wreaths on the walls. The wreaths were donated for a silent auction. Some were simple, others ornate, but almost all were elegant.

The fun part of the tour was a walk through the Christmas tree display room.

The theme was children's books. What a delight!

The room isn't too large, but it was crowded and took about 15 minutes to walk through. I stopped a few times to snap photos of most of the trees on display.

Trees were decorated like The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Toy Story, Cinderalla (my favorite), The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and several others.

The display sponsored by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, called ONE,  included handouts for a 2011 Christmas Tree Blessing.

After leaving the Christmas Tree room, we peeked into the Children's Room, where there were a variety of activities for children, including a puppet show.

We wandered down the hall and visited the gift shop, which also had some lovely displays, most notably was a Nativity scene under the tree at the entrance.

Another highlight of our visit was a portrait of the Blessed Mother carrying the Infant Jesus and being serenaded by three angels.

What's remarkable about this portrait is that it's made out of Legos. Isn't it amazing?

I was told there is another, larger, portrait made out of Legos in the hotel at the center.

The suggested donation for the outside tour varies depending on the size of the vehicle. For a car it would be $10. Our bus paid $50, and with each $10 donation came a cute and cuddly stuffed animal--this one was a goat. Oh, the tour also offers camel and donkey rides. It truly is a sight to behold, and one I highly recommend for children of all ages, and anyone who is looking for displays with a spiritual message of Christmas.

After leaving Illinois we headed back to Missouri and took in a glimpse of downtown St. Louis City Park, then on to a special treat on Murdock Lane called --- Candy Cane Lane in the St. Louis Hills section of St. Louis. John Kuehner, the brother of Patti Niestat, one of our tour organizers, plans and produces this annual event. If neighbors can't afford to decorate, John foots the bill. All the houses on both sides of the street for a few blocks are brightly decorated. Red and white lights circle the bases of large oaks lining the streets, giving it a candy cane appearance. This brief drive was a delight, and a sweet way to finish up our evening before heading back to All Saints.

I hope they have this bus trip again next year, because I definitely want to go!


  1. Thanks for sharing all the different light displays. I always think about going but with a baby who doesn't like her car seat--this may not be the yaer. :) I'll live through your description! :)

  2. Hi Margo,
    You are welcome. I bet it will be a fun Christmas this year for you with Katie!

  3. What a wonderful evening you find lots of fun out there! Here we have the Vietnamese lights which is free or a donation. They are struggling though because all their religious are getting too old to do the work and not enough young fellows coming in. I hope it does not fade away.

  4. Hi Claudia,
    Your Vietnamese lights sound lovely. I hope it stay strong.

    Another cool thing about our church trip was that it only cost $20 and included a light dinner.


  5. Reasonable prices, Donna. The "Night of Lights" here is up at Lake Lanier Islands and it's a whopping $60/car on Fri-Sun, dropping to $40/car during the week. At the end is a carnival that soaks up another $50 or so. *sigh* We stopped going a few years ago, but will probably fork over the dough this year as my daughter has been asking if we could go "one more time" before she graduates from high school.

  6. Hi Lisa,
    Your Night of Lights sounds elaborate. It's cool that your daughter wants to go one more time before graduating from high school.

  7. What a wonderful Christmas treat! I love doing things like that.

    Happy Weekend!

  8. My husband is the Dean of an external Christian university campus here and he has decorated the front of the campus with a musical light show that includes a reading of the Christmas story while a spot light shines on the nativity. His method to proclaim the Good News. There is no charge, drive through and tune your radio. This is the first year so we are intrested to see what kind of response it receives.

  9. I WANT TO GO, TOO!!!

    The Beneficent Mr. Hall is not as nice about Christmas lights trips after I made him go out 30 miles into the middle of nowhere (three counties over) to look at a lights display--and it turned out to be your basic house with lights. And one of the kids had to go to the bathroom.

    So you can see how totally awesome your bus trip was. ;-)

  10. Hi Sally.
    Thanks. It was a treat.

    Hi Sally,
    Your husband's display sounds wonderful. A church nearby has something similar. I take the grandkids to the parking lot and park then tune in the radio station and watch the light display.

    Hi Cathy,
    You should go!
    Did I mention my hubby did not go on the trip? He isn't big on road trips, especially on buses, so my outings are with my grandkiddos, my sister, or friends.


  11. This is a holiday event I would enjoy. we do have so many wonderful displays, don't we?

  12. Hi Linda,
    We sure do. I'd like to make it to Shaw's Garden (Mo Botanical Garden) or Jefferson Barracks (for the train display) by the end of the month.

  13. What wonderful trips you go on, and on a regular basis, too. Someday (sigh) I'll be retired, and can do fun things like that as well.

  14. Hi Sioux,
    As my grandkiddos get older I'm able to get out more. You will too when you retire.

  15. Sounds like a great trip! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

  16. I love looking at Christmas displays. The tree themed with children's books sounds great! We have a wonderful light display down from our house a few miles at Cedar Lakes, I haven't been there yet this year, but it is on my list of things to do.

  17. What a wonderful idea to do a bus tour.

  18. My not-yet-husband took me on a driving tour of Our Lady of the Snows and downtown St. Louis Christmas displays the year before we were married. I don't think he's taken me since. We used to have a drive-through display here in our town, but the guy sold it and it became a paint-ball park. Ack! Progress. My best memory of it was the year we went right after a tiny ice storm, and the lights glistened under their shiny coating.

  19. I love looking at Christmas lights. Even driving down Main Street in St. Charles is a treat. It looks like a canopy of lights!

    Critter Alley

  20. How nice - wish there wasn't so much going on! Ack, it's hard to fit it all in.

  21. Hi Janet,
    The children's book themed trees were a delight!

    Hi Ann,
    It was fun. By the end of the evening we were signing Christmas carols and asking the driver to stop for wine and/or chocolate. Too bad we had to get back to the church parking lot.

    Hi Val,
    There's story there about the paint ball park!

    Hi Pat,
    You're right about Main Street in St. Charles. It's a delight!

    Hi Lynn,
    You're right. This is a busy time. Wish there were more hours in the day.



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