The common thinking is Santa will be lured to Antigo by the spicy smells of chili simmering on Wednesday night.
But it may actually be the cookies.
Sheila and Mike Pavek of Antigo Bakery are once again donating the cookie dough to The Salvation Army for baking on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Clermont Street for Antigo’s day-long kickoff to Christmas, taking place Wednesday along Fifth Avenue.
Antigo will welcome Santa Claus to town with a gala nighttime parade through downtown at 6:30 p.m., capping a full day of holiday activities.
The day will open with the 18th annual chili cook-off beginning at 8 a.m. There will be traditional and roughneck divisions, with sampling after 5 p.m.
At 5:45 p.m. the community tree lighting will take place at a new location, Yesterday’s Sign Park at Fifth Avenue and Clermont street.
Following the parade, the Antigo High school band will perform at the fire department, with a special appearance by Santa.
While chili is a highlight and Santa the star of festivities, the Antigo Bakery chocolate chip cookies are a major hit with visitors who come downtown for the afternoon and evening.
Volunteers from The Salvation Army will bake the cookies in portable ovens supplied by Antigo Optimist Club beginning at about noon and continuing until the cookies run out.
Volunteer coordinator Bill Kelly said the cookies generally result in over $600 of donations for local Salvation Army needs during the chili cook-off.
While the Salvation Army’s cookies will be baked on the street, the Paveks generally rely on a high tech stainless steel oven that takes up most of the back room of Antigo Bakery. The oven, already 15 years old, replaced a model that operated for 60 years . It will bake 24 sheets of bakery to perfection at one time, allowing the bakery to fill all the orders for holiday gatherings.
Paveks added that they now have a Facebook page at Pavek’s Antigo Bakery where visitors can peruse all the standard and specialized bakery all year long.