As most of you know, I’m a small town guy. I grew up in a small farm town in Southern Illinois – population about 5,800. Many readers would not consider Bozeman a small town. Having lived in San Diego, California with 6 million other folks, Bozeman is a little piece of heaven to me. And, probably like you, I don’t do well with changing it. I watched uneasily as part of our small town innocence was lost as North 19th construction commenced. I didn’t move here to “San Diego-ize” Bozeman but to get “Bozeman-ized,” by it.

I grew up with ice cream socials, summer band concerts, small traveling carnivals that used to set up one block off Main Street. Christmas pageants in schools, and downtown parades all merged to create that “where everybody knows your name,” familiarity common to all small towns.

Traditions and Growth

Growth is a fact of life but there are ways to keep parts of our small town traditions alive for future generations. Living within a half-hour drive of downtown St. Louis I regularly attended the annual “Oktoberfest,” held each year. Streets closed off, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people getting together to — well - party. San Diego, on the other hand, rarely had large crowd gathering due to gang war disputes that could result in a demo of automatic weapons for all attendees.

Small Town Traditions

I didn’t move to Bozeman because of the many traditional celebrations that take place each year. But I must say that Bozeman felt much more like home than San Diego, with its warm weather, and beautiful beaches, ever did. Small town traditions are not just relegated to Bozeman. Belgrade, Livingston, Three Forks, Manhattan, Big Sky, West Yellowstone, all have them. No two small towns are alike. Oh, they all have their own version of a Christmas Stroll or other celebrations, but each is as unique as a fingerprint.

Some Final Thoughts

To say Christmas Stroll Saturday was a busy day in Bozeman would be an understatement. The day started off with the Kiwanis Annual Pancake Breakfast at the fairgrounds then in the early afternoon the MSU men’s and women’s basketball teams played followed by MSU Football Playoff Game that was somehow scheduled during the stroll. But the stroll folks provided a giant big screen so strollers could keep up with the action at the stadium.

Christmas Stroll, Sweet Pea, Lunch on the Lawn, Shakespeare In The Parks, Music on Main, and Bite of Bozeman are all things that help contribute to our vibrant economy and keep our small town persona alive. If you live in our area, it’s in your best interest to support these civic functions. It’s often easy to take these events for granted and just blow them off till next year. Let’s do all we can to make sure they are all there for future generations.

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