The American St. Nick

The American St. Nick

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm

WXXI's Veterans Connections is pleased bring you this film that tells the amazing true story of war, honor, luck and love.

On Tuesday, November 10 at 6:30 p.m. WXXI and its Veterans Connections  initiative, in conjunction with M&T Bank, are pleased to host a FREE screening of The American St. Nick at the Little Theatre (Theatre 2). The documentary, produced by filmmaker Tim Gray, tells the remarkable true story of a handful of American soldiers who during the chaos of war, help bring Christmas back a small Luxembourg town, and unknowingly create a holiday tradition that continues to this very day. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the American St. Nick Richard Brookins, who is a Pittsford resident, documentarian Tim Gray, and American St. Nick author Peter Lion. Please note: Seats to the screening are first come, first served. 

The American St. Nick will also air on WXXI-TV December 7 at 9 p.m. and December 17 at 9 p.m.

Watch the trailer:

More about the film:
It's December 1944, the Germans are retreating. It appears the war in Europe may be over soon, but not soon enough for members of the battle-worn 28th Infantry Division. Knowing they won't be home again for the Holidays, soldiers from a 112th regiment Signal Company Message Center in the storybook town of Wiltz, realize that although the town has been liberated after nearly five years of Nazi occupation, the ravages of war have left the townspeople with nothing to celebrate the season. For the children, it will be especially bleak without the hope of candies, treats or gifts on the normally town-wide celebration of St. Nicolas Day. Hearing this, Corporal Harry Stutz gets an idea. He gathers some fellow soldiers and together they organize a Christmas party for the children, a party that will include a special visit from St. Nicolas himself, thanks to a reluctant Corporal Richard Brookins.

Wearing the mass robes of the local priest and a crudely fashioned rope beard to complete the costume, St. Nicolas rides through town on an Army jeep, stopping to meet the children and passing out treats baked by the Army cooks or donated from the soldier's care packages from home. Later the celebration continues with a party for all the children at the Wiltz Castle. It is a wonderful day for the children of Wiltz and for the American soldiers as well.

Ten days later however the Battle of the Bulge erupts in the Ardennes; Wiltz and the 28th Infantry Division are overrun. In the weeks of fighting that followed, most of the town is damaged or destroyed, mostly from Allied bombing. Tragically, some of the townspeople including children were killed. The joy of that one St. Nicolas day was gone...but not forgotten.

Following the war Wiltz rebuilt and those who survived vowed never to forget the kindness and generosity of those few Americansoldiers that one St. Nicolas Day. From then on, to honor those soldiers, the Wiltz St. Nicolas Day celebration would include a new tradition: someone would dress not as St. Nicolas, but rather as the American St. Nicolas and recreate his 1944 Jeep ride through town and party after. This tradition has continued faithfully for more than seven decades.

This screening is part of WXXI’s Veterans Connections initiative that is designed to help bridge military and veteran needs with community support and awareness.  Through special TV, radio and online programming, documentary films, group discussions, news features, and a comprehensive web site (WXXI.org/veterans), Veterans Connections works to create a community platform to raise awareness and connect veterans with valuable resources.

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