Festive spirit visits the Train Depot

December 8, 2008

By Jon Savelle

Heide Steilberg, insistent she is ‘3 and three-quarters’ years old, enjoys dancing with her mom Rachel, of Tiger Mountain, to the tune of ‘This Land is Your Land,’ played by The Unusual Suspects. Photo by Greg Farrar.Heide Steilberg, insistent she is ‘3 and three-quarters’ years old, enjoys dancing with her mom Rachel, of Tiger Mountain, to the tune of ‘This Land is Your Land,’ played by The Unusual Suspects. Photo by Greg Farrar.

Holiday cheer was overflowing Dec. 5 at the Train Depot, where the Issaquah History Museums hosted its annual holiday open house and the old building rang with the sounds of people having fun. 

Children, parents, musicians, craft makers and Santa himself were on hand for the festivities. Santa, of course, was a major draw for the children, who never seemed to be unsure of what they wanted for Christmas.

“I was telling him I want a ‘High School Musical’ dance mat,” said Mikaela Hincy, a 5-year-old visiting Issaquah with brother Andrew, 3, sister Audrey, 14 months, and dad Mike.

Andrew was equally certain about his Christmas wish. “A motorcycle with super heroes,” he said.

Their dad said he stumbled onto the depot with his children while their mother was shopping. It was exactly the kind of small-town, family event he needed.

“We were lucky to find this,” the Bothell resident said.

Were visitors in a shopping mood themselves, the depot was filled with vendors of handcrafted wooden toys, knitted caps, jewelry, photo albums and ornaments. It was a colorful assortment of unique items, and a contrast to malls full of mass-produced products. 

Some craft making was under way on the premises. Erica Maniez, director of the museums, led groups of children and their parents in the art of ornament making. Using artifacts from the 1930s as inspiration — made during the Great Depression, they were fashioned out of cans and other scrap materials — the groups got busy with paper, scissors, glue and glitter to make angels and other ornaments. 

Squak Mountain resident Leigh Meier brought her daughter, Olivia, and son Ben, 6 months. Sound asleep in his car carrier, Ben missed most of the event. But Olivia was very serious about her angel. 

Like the Hincy family, the Meiers found the event by accident. 

“We went to the park to play, and there was a poster up,” Leigh Meier said. 

At the far end of the building, the six-piece string band The Unusual Suspects kept people’s feet tapping with old fiddle tunes, bluegrass, ragtime and songs from the 1920s. That was just the ticket for Heidi Steilberg, 3, and her mother Rachel. The Tiger Mountain residents lost no time getting out onto the floor to dance. 

When asked what she liked best about the event, Heidi held up the candy cane she received from Santa. 

And what did she tell him she wanted for Christmas?

“A princess castle,” she said. 

This was a popular item, said Santa, also known as Michael Johnson; he rattled off Legos, trains, Barbies, Nintendo games and the princess palaces as the things children wanted most. 

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or jsavelle@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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