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WQAD.com

Andover rings in the Christmas season

The town looked back at its history to make this year special, when the annual Christmas Walk celebration was cancelled due to the pandemic.

ANDOVER, Illinois — The small town of Andover, Illinois, is ringing in the Christmas season in a way they never have before. 

In a town of 600 people, you might expect all would be calm on Christmas Eve.

"This year they did a real special job on the park," said Steve Stone. "It looks a lot better than it has in the past."

You might change your mind after you hear what's happened here.

For nearly 40 years, the town of Andover has held its annual "Christmas Walk" celebration. Neighbors would decorate with lights and signs. This year, that tradition was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's kinda hard to do when you have to stay so far apart, and you're supposed to stay away from too many people anyway," Stone said.

Stone has lived in town for 16 years, but admits he has not participated in the celebration in years past.

In 2020, the town is now ringing out the year by ringing the bell sitting outside the Andover Historical Society museum.

That bell hasn't rung since 1973, according to the Andover Tourism Council. A plaque beneath the bell states it was part of Andover's first two-story school building.

Credit: WQAD/Josh Lamberty
The plaque underneath the bell outside the Andover, Ill, Historical Society museum.

When the historical society asked for volunteers to ring the bell, Stone jumped at the chance.

"I'd love to because I'd been curious to see what it sounds like anyway," Stone said.

Stone actually lives right behind the historical society, where the bell sits.

"I was tempted to come over and give it a test try," Stone said.

When 6 p.m. came, the sound from this century-old bell filled the air. But, it only lasted for a few moments.

Cars lined the street for people to watch. Others gathered on their porches to listen.

"There's a lot of pride in the community," Stone said.

They are taking pride in a Christmas tradition, even if it looks and sounds a little different.

The bell outside the Andover Historical Society museum was not the only bell ringing Thursday night. Another group gathered outside Augustana Lutheran Church in town to hear the bell there ring back and forth with the bell outside the historical society museum.