The Christmas spirit is about to be taken up a notch in Charlotte, thanks to the enthusiasm and collaboration between a handful of Charlotte High School students and members of Can Do!

A Charlotte Christmas, Charlotte’s newest holiday tradition, was dreamed up over a few bowls of hot soup by several enthusiastic Charlotte High School students and a few members of Can Do! Their idea was an instant hit with those attending the October Can Do! event, Charlotte Soup, ultimately winning a $400 grant to help the group take their concept from fun idea to reality.

The committee has crafted three hours of Christmas magic planned for Saturday, Dec. 23 at Camp Frances in Bennett Park, from 4 to 7 p.m. The afternoon will include everything from a horse-drawn wagon and Santa’s workshop to actual reindeer. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be located inside his workshop. Children will have the opportunity to meet the couple, create Christmas crafts and write their final letters to Santa before Christmas arrives.

Committee member Matt Rush said he has been impressed with the ownership the students have taken with the planning of the event. He also cited CHS principal Dr. Bill Barnes’ involvement as key to planning a successful event.

Barnes, who also served as the Can Do! chair for 2017 said the entire project has been a model of collaboration.

“This project has been a wonderful example of a true community engagement on the part of everyone involved, from the donors, to the city, to CanDo!, to community leaders, to the school, and ultimately, to Charlotte students,” Barnes said. “It has been a lot of fun to see the project take shape and to watch the students take such ownership in the process.”

The process for the students began at the October event. Several CHS students took part in brainstorming potential community projects at Charlotte Soup.

“It has been a great learning experience for our students to navigate all the steps in creating a community experience,” Barnes said. “From securing donations, to obtaining necessary permissions, to getting the word out, the students have done a tremendous job in the planning process.”

Eight different project ideas were shared, ranging from a harvest gathering at Courthouse Square to a community field day involving a friendly competition between Charlotte High School students and downtown business owners. In the end, the top two project ideas selected were: A Charlotte Christmas, and the Windwalker Blowout, which will take place in June.

The $400 grant was generated through ticket sales to the event, and the $300 grant came courtesy of CanDo!’s mini-grant program. Other sponsors the event include Charlotte Meijer, Dr. Bill Barnes and Charlotte High School, the Rush family, Sandy Maatsch, and the City of Charlotte.

The event is free to the community. For more information, contact Barnes at (517) 541-5601.