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From Candy Cane Lane To Cahokia Mounds: Winter Around St. Louis

Mark S. Abeln
Candy Cane Lane

Whether it’s sledding on Art Hill, ice skating at Steinberg Skating Rink, drinking whiskey or hibernating with cats (all responses we received on our Facebook page), St. Louisans have a variety of ways to keep warm and have fun in the winter.

What's your favorite wintertime activity in the St. Louis area? Submit your answer on our Facebook page.

In her most recent book, 100 Things to Do in St. Louis Before You Die, author Amanda Doyle compiled a list of activities unique to St. Louis in the winter.  And yes, sledding on Art Hill and skating at Steinberg are on it. So are trips to Candy Cane Lane in St. Louis Hills, Christmas Traditions in St. Charles, and celebrating the winter solstice at Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville.

“What I love about Candy Cane Lane is that it’s a very homemade kind of tradition,” Doyle said, adding that streets nearby have created an Angel Avenue and Snowflake Street.

According to Candy Cane Lane resident Bob Klasak, the tradition started 10 years ago when one of his neighbors decorated the trees in his yard to look like candy canes. Now everyone on the 6500 block of Murdoch puts red and white lights on their trees, and about half the residents band together to put up a Merry Christmas sign and other communal decorations. Some also hand out candy canes and collect donations for charities on weekends.

A conversation with Bob Klasak, a resident of the 6500 block of Murdoch, about how the tradition of Candy Cane Lane began, and what it has evolved into today.

St. Louis is also home to the largest outdoor skating rink in the Midwest.  Anne Kasal is the general manager of Steinberg Skating Rink. She said that although it is located in Forest Park, she holds a separate contract with the city. Last year, about 70,000 people visited the rink, which will be open daily throughout the season.

A discussion with Steinberg general manager Anne Kasal about the impact of the ice rink on the region.

Credit Dilip Vishwanat
The Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden, lit up for Garden Glow.

Another response to our Facebook post about winter activities suggested going to the zoo or the Missouri Botanical Garden on a snow day. “They’re usually not crowded, look beautiful, and you can go in a building when you can’t take the cold anymore,” wrote Meghan.

This year the Missouri Botanical Garden has added a new reason to visit during the winter – Garden Glow.

“(It's the) first time in 154 years that we have lit up the garden at night,” said Katie O’Sullivan, communications officer at the Garden. She said the Garden Glow was made possible because of the Chinese Lantern Festival held earlier this year, when additional electrical outlets were added.

Credit (Courtesy City of St. Charles)
(Courtesy City of St. Charles)
The Lewis & Clark Fife Drum Corps in the Santa Parade, part of Christmas Traditions in St. Charles.

Throughout the month of December, St. Charles, Mo. hosts Christmas Traditions in St. Charles - a festival celebrating historic Christmas traditions from around the world. Every weekend afternoon until Christmas Eve, there is a Santa Parade with music and a cadre of International Santas.

A conversation about Christmas Traditions in St. Charles with Carol Felzien, director of communication for Historic St. Charles.

Amanda Doyle is also the author of Finally, A Locally Produced Guidebook to St. Louis by and for St. Louisans, Neighborhood by Neighborhood, published in 2011. Her books can be found at both Left Bank Books locations, Looking Glass Designs in Lafayette Square, and the shop at the Missouri History Museum.

One wintertime activity Doyle has yet to check off her list is celebrating the winter solstice at Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, Ill. This year, the solstice is on December 22. If you're willing to wake up before the sunrise, you can observe the official start of winter the way the Mississippian peoples did many years ago.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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