Luminary Festival, St. Joseph, Michigan

Friday, November 20th, was the evening of St. Joseph's annual Luminary Festival. It was a bit of a challenge for D to get off work a couple hours early so we could get across the state by 6pm but it was worth it. We had a wonderful time!

The town looked very festive with all the decorated lamp posts and store windows but the luminaries are what really set the holiday mood. They lined State Street and its intersecting streets and set the town aglow.

We were lucky enough to get a parking spot on Broad Street right near State which I was very grateful for. We grabbed our cameras and set off for a fun evening of shopping. Our first stop was Moxie's Boutique where we did a little shopping for some bling and sampled the homemade Christmas cookies.

It was apparent that this was a very popular event as the streets were already crowded by 6pm. That just increased the excitement!

Our next stop was the Crowley Fine Arts gallery where we bought a little more bling and sampled even more Christmas cookies. :-)

It's always fun to people-watch at these sorts of events, and you can't help but overhear bits and pieces of conversations. The crowd was mixed with families, young couples, and seniors. We heard lots of people greeting friends they hadn't seen in a long time and catching up with each others lives. It seemed like a real social event. People were standing around and chatting as much as they were shopping.

We stopped in at the Alternate Route, a good name for a store that's hard to define. It's got a little bit of everything, clothing, collectibles, home decor, etc. I bought a wooden plaque that says, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" and we had yet more goodies. This time it was Dunkin Doughnuts.

At this point we caught on that pretty much all the stores had some sort of goodies to eat which made me happy but not so much D. He was hungry for dinner! We made our way to the Pump House Grill but the line was out the door. :-( With all the crowds of people in town during the dinner hour it was really no surprise. We didn't want to spend all our time waiting in line for a table somewhere when we could be shopping but where could we grab a quick bite to eat? Qdoba Grill had a concession stand on the corner of State Street and Pleasant where they were selling nachos so we headed over there. Unfortunately, they had a long line too and there was no place to sit down. The few benches in town were occupied. Hmmm... I suggested we grab a quick sandwich at the Chocolate Cafe, hoping we could get a seat there. D wasn't crazy about the idea of just a sandwich for dinner but he couldn't come up with a better idea so that's what we did.

All the tables inside were taken, many by people who were there to enjoy the entertainment (musicians) and people-watch. In my opinion, having musical entertainment on an evening like this was a bad idea. The tables didn't turn over and I'm sure the cafe lost out on a lot of food sales due to a lack of seating. We did get food but took it outside to a patio table in front of the Caffee Tosi next door. D and I shared a bowl of lobster bisque and a Ruben sandwich. It was actually a very pleasant evening for an outdoor dinner, a surprise for late November. We enjoyed our food and in short order we were back to shopping.

Our next stop was Perennial Accents, another hard to define store. It's part garden store, part home decor store, and part gourmet cooking store. I bought a signed copy of a book about Christmas during the 1940s-1960s. (can't remember the name... I'll get back to you on that ;-) .

Before we left the store we sampled a fabulous dessert cake, chocolate with cranberries and white chocolate mousse, from Bit of Swiss. Yum!

We made our way to the St Joe Today office and had a bite of birthday cake. Good thing we got there when we did. The cake was almost all gone (not that we needed another sweet treat just then ;-) . I must say, it was terrific cake. It melted in my mouth as only butter creme frosting can do.
After visiting St Joseph Today, we crossed the street and headed back south on State Street. We stopped to peek in the Hallmark store window...

... and then we caught a glimpse of the horse drawn trolley coming down the street. The rides are free and lots of fun!

Heading further south, we came upon Santa's house! Santa was there yet. I understand he'll be escorted into town at the Reindog Parade the first weekend in December.

We were getting pretty thirsty by this point. We heard several people mention they were drinking chocolate martinis but I have no idea where they got them. We got lucky and found hot apple cider at Edgewater Gifts, where I bought a new fishing net for my holiday decorating.

About 8:15 we popped into Forever Books.

The HP had an article about an author who was signing her books there. Her book sounded interesting... "The Christmas Cookie Club", so we went to investigate. (If you're interested in the book and you can't get to Forever Books to pick it up, you can get it at

Sure enough, the lovely Ann Pearlman was sitting at a table waiting to sign her book. We chatted briefly with Ann who of course had plates of Christmas cookies by her side.

They were cookies made by the lady on the right (below) using recipes from the book. And they were delicious!

Do you see that copy of the book on the counter? Well, that was the very last copy and I bought it :-) Ann signed it for me and I'm looking forward to reading it!

I'll leave you with a couple more photos of the lovely luminaries...

Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Nice write up and pictures! It was a very fun night... even our kids had a good time! Nice that it was so warm for a Nov. evening. The crowd was very surprising, I hadn't expected there to be so many people. Anyway, nice article!


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