Commentary: Removal of Christkindlmarket hurts cultural diversity in Naperville


Noelle Schwarz, News Editor

Winter comes rapidly without warning in Illinois. The sharp wind hits you all at once, leaving ice in your lungs and a chill in your bones. In October, the cold begins to set in, moving slowly through the falling leaves. Then November charges through, and winter rushes in with snow and ice. By December, the temperatures have dropped to sub zero. The landscape has turned gray and bleak and a wave of despair fills each person. We yearn for days of summer, of swimming, the beach and shining sun.  

But amidst the desolation of winter is one, singular bright spot. Christmas. Green and red twinkling lights dazzle against the winter snow. Towering pine trees fill in hollow winter homes. In Naperville, the pinnacle of Christmas is the Christkindlmarket. As joyful as a basket of newborn puppies and as fun as Disneyland, the Christkindlmarket is the absolute steeple of Christmas.

Each year, my family and friends gather to make our annual pilgrimage to the beautiful Christkindlmarket. Named after the bringer of gifts of children, Christkindl, this little German market is the best thing that has ever happened to our corner of the Midwest. The moment we step foot into the market, wafts of cinnamon and chocolate fill our noses. Stand by stand, we go through the Christkindlmarket looking at each piece of art, admiring the work and beauty put into it.

The Christkindlmarket is also the perfect opportunity to catch up on last minute Christmas shopping. An artfully made snow globe for Dad, a stunning scarf for Mom, a little devil puppet (yes, I did really see one there, this place is awesome) for your little brother – there is something at the Christkindlmarket for everyone.

The food is a whole other topic. They have everything from apple cider doughnuts to bratwurst. The Christkindlmarket always satisfies your freezing hands and hungry stomach.

Now, it has all disappeared. Weeks after reelection, Mayor Steve Chirico informed the community that our last hope of joy in these cold winter months was gone.

As the Naperville Sun reported, he blamed the departure on the fact that Christkindlmarket sponsors did not always get the money they requested from the city. Chirico further alienated the group by implying that they were greedy to ask for money from the City of Naperville.

“Because of the crowds they got and success of that location, I felt that they should be able to have that event without coming to the city for money,” Chirico said in an article in the Naperville Sun. “I couldn’t understand from my perspective why they would have to come to us for city services.”

The glorious Christkindlmarket helped generate $7.2 million in economic impact annually, according to a press release from Naperville Settlement. Discarding the jubilant holiday market will not only ruin the town morale during winter months, but have a strong negative impact on the economy.

This idea of destroying some of Naperville’s most iconic events seems to be a trend recently as Ribfest is moving out of town as well.

Chirico hopes Naperville Settlement will put something in place during the winter months that will be its own version of the Christkindlmarket and involve more local businesses. This is merely a ploy to hopefully get more money out of the holiday festival than before. This will ultimately fail due to the fact that there are few local German craftsmen and food vendors.

Overall, the disappointing removal of the joyous Christkindlmarket is reflective of Naperville government’s greedy need to suck money out of everything that goes on in the town. The Christkindlmarket may be the first authentic festival to go, but it most certainly won’t be the last.