WOOD RIVER - The City of Wood River is in the Christmas spirit, and it started with the 5K race in Downtown Wood River and the Christmas celebration.

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"We know there are challenges to bringing back downtown, but people are working hard and staying positive," Wood River Police Chief Brad Wells said. "The motivation is the smile brought to faces with the Christmas celebration by seeing the joy their child was having or seeing a friend they have not seen in a while.

"We have a few new businesses opening soon and a foundation of greater things coming."

Garrett Buettel of Brighton was the overall 5K winner with a time of 20:41.32, followed by Cindy Purcell of Mt. Vernon, 20:50.68, Bram Beuttel of Brighton 21:39.24, Matthew Villarreal of St. Louis, 22:00, Lydia Mikoff of Maryville, 22:38, Gianna Stassi of East Alton, 22:52, Bill Carril of Caseyville, 23:38.72, Michael Daniels of Hartford, 23:40, Brandon Grizzle of East Alton, 24:03.98, and Graham McAfoos of Alton, 25:42.11.

Wood River Police Chief Brad Wells thanked several who made the Christmas celebration and race a success:

"Thank you to the members and spouses of WRPD, Building & Zoning, Park & Recreation, and Public Works in making this a successful event.

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Thank you to the sponsors of the event.

Thank you to Kristen Burns, Erica Chalcraft, Paula Hubbard, Laura Hamilton, Carey Price, Vickie Budde, Sue Sullivan, Denise Malham, Chris Stein from Fritz Distributing, Harry Nelson (Santa), Brent Wells (drone service), Steve Russell, Fran Russell, all who volunteered to block an intersection, and many others (we apologize if not mentioned here).

Thank you to GRP/Wegman for the POD used for the Santa Claus House.

Thank you to Dwight & Teresa Fowler from Hit-N-Run Food Stores for the toy donation.

Thank you to Republic Service for the trash cans and Port-a-Potties.

Thank you to Mike Roper-Gateway DJ Services.

Thank you to Nite Train Lounge for power usage at the Santa House.

Thank you to each business in Downtown Wood River opening its doors for the crowd to make this event successful. Photos are below with the exception of a photo missing of Kristen & Jeremy from Kristen’s Hair Studio and Meyer Jewelry.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 5K Run/Walk."

Chief Wells closed with some heartfelt words: "Thank you to everyone who brought a child downtown to see Santa Claus. You warmed the heart of every police officer to see a smile on each child’s face."

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