Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Holiday Fun in Aurora and beyond! Santa and more in Aurora, IL, Montgomery & more!

In Aurora:
Downtown Aurora is ready to kick off the holiday season with the second annual Winter Lights event to be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22.
 The free, family-friendly event will feature art, music, lights, refreshments and the lighting of the City’s official holiday tree. The festivities will take place on Downer Place, Stolp Avenue and Galena Boulevard in the downtown. Patrons are invited to shop along Downer Place and Stolp Avenue where several businesses will be extending their hours including the David L. Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer; River’s Edge CafĂ© and Fox Valley Home Brew, 14 W. Downer; Vara Designs 15 W. Downer; and If These Walls Could Talk, 32 S. Stolp. Nearly a dozen well-known local and regional vendors will be participating with holiday treats and treasures on display for purchase.  Among the activities planned for the evening is ice sculptor Joe Gagnepain creating a spectacular winter ice sculpture outside the Art and History Center and John Ivan providing holiday carols while families stroll through the festive streets decorated for the holidays. At Millennium Plaza, on Stolp between Downer and Galena, free holiday classic movies will be shown continuously in the Gazebo from 5-7:30 p.m., accompanied by favorite holiday characters.  Patrons are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring a blanket. Popcorn and hot chocolate will be available for purchase from nearby vendors. The Fox Valley Festival Chorus, which appeared at Carnegie Hall last spring, will perform on the steps of the North Island Center, 8 E. Galena, at 5:30 p.m. Following the choir performance, the City of Aurora’s official holiday tree will be lit for the first time at 6 p.m.  Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with the Miss Merry Christmas and Mr. Jack Frost winners, will be on hand to help Mayor Tom Weisner light the tree. Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras as Santa will be available for photos on the steps of the GAR museum, 23 E. Downer, near the Victorian Christmas Tree immediately following the tree lighting. The Aurora 88's reindeer on roller skates will guide patrons from the tree lighting, along the Paramount Promenade, to the museum. Local businesses are encouraged to take part and decorate for the Winter Lights event, and a trophy will be awarded for the best decorated store front.  Business owners can pick up an application at the City’s Special Events Division, 5 E. Downer, Suite A.  Applications can be returned via email at gmoga@aurora-il.org or by fax at 630-256-3379 Decorations must be completed and displayed by Nov. 20.  Judging will take place on Nov. 21 and the winner will be announced during the holiday tree lighting ceremony. Holiday Lights is sponsored by the City of Aurora in conjunction with Cultural Creatives, Inc., the Aurora Public Art Commission, River's Edge Cafe, The Paramount Theatre, Temple Display and the Aurora Rotary Club. For information call 630-256-INFO (4636).

In Aurora:

One of the largest free outdoor holiday light displays in Northern Illinois, Aurora’s Festival of Lights, returns for its seventh year in 2013 with even more dazzling displays that will delight both adults and children.

Presented in partnership between the Rotary Club of Aurora and the City, this signature winter event is a drive-through of more than one mile of spectacular lighted displays, many of which are animated, and are illuminated by tens of thousands of bulbs. It is staged at Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive in Aurora, and will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday starting Nov. 29 through Dec. 26.

Five new displays and 50 new lighted holiday trees have been added to this year’s festival.  Patrons will enjoy Santa’s Toy Factory, Old Man Winter, elves and reindeer, holiday trains, gigantic snowflakes and other seasonal favorites.  The new trees are courtesy of students in the Lake Land College vocational welding class at the Sheridan Correctional Center. All of the displays utilize LED bulbs that use 86 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs. 

Last year’s festival set a record when almost 21,200 cars visited the four-week event.  The festival is free, but the Rotary Club does accept donations that benefit local charities.

In Montgomery:
Montgomery’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on Sunday, December 8th at 5:00 p.m. in front of the Village Hall at 200 N. River Street in Montgomery.  This is a free event for the entire community and is hosted jointly by the Village of Montgomery and the Greater Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce (GMACC).
The event will kick off as students from local grade schools decorate the Village Christmas tree with handmade ornaments, followed by the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in fire trucks with sirens blaring.  After the lighting of the Christmas tree, children can pose for photos with Santa inside the Village Hall while everyone enjoys musical numbers performed by the students outside on the Park District’s Sound Stage.  Free hot cocoa and cookies will be provided throughout the evening by the GMACC.  Be sure to dress for the weather and bring your camera!
The Village Hall will once again host a Festival of Trees that will turn all three levels of the Village Hall into a winter wonderland.  Area businesses are participating by decorating Christmas trees for everyone to enjoy.  Visitors of all ages are invited to vote for their favorite tree.  Some of the businesses will even be sponsoring fun raffles and prizes that evening.  In addition, the Festival of Trees will continue for three weeks, so if you are unable to attend the December 8th event, you can still stop by to view the beautiful trees and vote for your favorite during business hours until December 31st.
In addition to on-street parking, two public parking lots are available behind the Village Hall along Main Street. Don’t miss this once a year, heart-warming, community gathering!
If you are a business interested in putting up a tree or if you know of a youth group that might be interested in performing, please call Debbie Buchanan at 630-896-8080 ext. 1114.