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Holiday Tradition Returns to Altoona Ahead of 150th Celebration

Altoona, Iowa –It's beginning to look like Christmas in Olde Town Altoona as a holiday tradition returns this Sunday. Altoona Area Historical Society Volunteer Victoria Veatch said, "It just brings back nostalgia for a lot of people."

The Altoona Area Historical Society is bringing back Christmas in Olde Town. It will be on a smaller scale than the last holiday celebration that happened in 2008. Veatch said, "It was a full street event. They would auction of Christmas trees. Santa would ride in and they would light up the Altoona Christmas tree."

This year, Santa will ride in on a fire truck at 1 p.m. and take free pictures with kids. The historical society's museum will be open with ornament making activities and tours. The festivities run from 1 to 5 p.m.

Volunteers are using this to gear up to a big celebration this summer when the city celebrates its 150th anniversary. That will be July 26th through the 29th. Altoona 150 Celebration Co-Chair Mary Simon said, "It's huge. There's not many communities throughout Iowa that can say, 'Hey, we're 150 years old, and we're here to celebrate this big time."

A committee started planning more than a year ago. They'll need 300 volunteers to pull off the four-day event at the end of July. You can get involved by going to the Altoona 150 website.

Veatch said they hope to use the momentum from the celebration to bring back a full-scale Christmas in Olde Town next year, while bringing more attention to the city’s oldest area. "We want to revitalize this area. We'd love to see it something more like Valley Junction or the East Village where we have shops or we have food and make this a destination in Altoona."