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Community spirit moves residents to decorate Brazeau
On Sunday afternoon, a small group of woman pulled Christmas ornaments out of boxes, admiring several of the ones they'd forgotten about from previous years.
Katherine Lane removed the regular decorations from the front window of Carrie's Tea Room, replacing them with Santa Claus figurines.
Toward the back of Carrie's Tea Room, Bonnie Hemman discussed where the dessert table should be set up.
The women were preparing the village of Brazeau for its sixth annual candlelit Christmas Walk on Saturday.
"It's a good time to get together with your friends," said Geraldine Leible, one of Brazeau's 23 residents. "It really gives you the feeling that Christmas is coming."
Each of Brazeau's residents, along with members of surrounding communities, take part in transforming the tiny historical village into a magical wonderland for the Christmas Walk.
Hemman, a resident of neighboring Frohna, said the walk was started as a way to raise money for the restoration of some of the town's oldest buildings.
"We just wanted a way to restore some of these buildings and share the history at the same time," she said.
Brazeau, located in eastern Perry County, was established in the 1800s and its buildings have years of history behind the doors.
The Brazeau Museum, built in 1906, was the home of the elementary and high school for many years.
Leible attended her first two years of high school in the building. Much has changed in Brazeau since then.
The country store is now home to Hemman's Winery; the bank, established in 1919, closed when it went broke in the 1940s; and there is no longer a school in the town.
But one thing that hasn't changed is Brazeau's Christmas spirit.
"As long as I can remember there's always been a Christmas tree in front of the museum," Leible said. "I think when people come here, they see a village that has retained so much of its history and it more or less gives off the feeling that Christmas is near."
The Presbyterian Church in Brazeau was built in 1852 and during the Christmas Walk it will be filled with the sounds of the St. Andrew Lutheran Church of Cape Girardeau and Concordia Lutheran Church of Frohna's choirs.
Lane owns the old bank in Brazeau and fills it with 23 Christmas trees, which she began decorating in September.
"I'm ready to turn the lights on," she said. "They look really beautiful."
Hemman said the village of Brazeau wouldn't be able to have the Christmas Walk if it weren't for residents of surrounding communities, who pitch in to help decorate.
Aileen Petzoldt of Frohna helped decorate a log cabin at Saxon Lutheran Memorial, which will be a new feature this year.
"I've always been interested in the community and try to be really supportive with the Christmas Walk," she said. "I think they're doing such a great job keeping the traditions going on that they have. It's such a quaint little area."
In the past five years, the day of the Christmas Walk has brought Brazeau's population up about 500 people, Hemman said.
"There are very few places in the country where you can see something like this," she said. "Brazeau really is God's little secret."
Tickets for Brazeau's Christmas Walk are $5 and can be purchased at the Community Hall. For more information, contact Hemman at (573) 824-5394.
Want to Go?
What: Brazeau's Christmas Walk
Where: Brazeau, Mo.
When: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Who: Community of Brazeau