MORRIS – This year those looking to get into the holiday spirit won’t have to choose between Black Friday specials and the Home for the Holiday’s Christmas House Walk.
The annual house walk has always been the Friday after Thanksgiving, but has been moved to Saturday this year in hopes of increasing attendance.
“Black Friday has kind of taken on a life of its own and taken away from the Friday events,” said Deb Baker, Home for the Holidays Committee chairwoman. “The numbers were down last year and a lot of people were torn.”
Before people could either shop the Black Friday deals, or attend the house walk to observe the holiday displays. In recent years the lighting of Chapin Park has followed the Lighted Holiday Parade on Friday evening as well, so even people who attended the house walk were still missing these Home for the Holidays’ events.
Changing the date of the house walk to accommodate all of this, as well as those who have to work Friday, just made sense, Baker said.
Tickets for the house walk are $15 and available at downtown retailers and at each of the four houses on the walk.
Those who buy a ticket have the chance to win a grand prize including a diamond pendant with a $500 value from Harrington’s Fine Jewelry, a $250 Grundy County Chamber & Industry gift certificate, dinner at Chapin’s restaurant, a wine tasting at Montage, gift certificates from the Morris Retail Association and an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites.
In addition to its new day, the house walk also will feature a theme for the first time, the Nostalgic Home Tour.
“They are all historic homes and are all in proximity of each other,” said Julie Applegate, executive director of the Morris Downtown Development Partnership. “We thought it would be neat to have a theme and I think all of the old homes really draw people.
“Some are homes people have driven by for years and always wondered what they look like inside so it is a good opportunity to do that.”
To carry on the nostalgic theme downtown, Baker said the committee also added the Lamplight Singers, a Victorian caroling quartet.
The singers will be wandering through the downtown from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday and will be dressed in Victorian costumes.
“Music is always a wonderful addition to any event,” Applegate said.
To cater to everyone’s busy holiday schedules, Home for the Holidays also extended the hours of some of the free activities throughout the weekend. The horse drawn carriage rides are starting earlier Friday and will be available from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Washington and Franklin streets, and on Saturday the free trolley rides will be available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the same intersection.
On the trolley, characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse ride along to entertain the children on board.
In between the events and shopping downtown, Applegate encourages people to stop and have their gifts wrapped. This year local Girl Scouts will be offering gift wrapping for a donation at 318 Liberty St.
Another favorite tradition of the holiday weekend is the Grundy County Historical Society’s Festival of Trees, which is being extended through Sunday this year. From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday people can bid on their favorite tree at the Grundy County Historical Society Museum, 510 W. Illinois Ave.
“It’s a great family weekend with so many magical things to do for the kids – they can see Santa with his reindeer, see characters on the trolley. There is so much to do with the children and you can just enjoy your local downtown,” Baker said.
For a full listing of events visit downtownmorris.com or click on the link on this file for the schedule.