MORRIS – This year is the seventh year Linda Karecki of Channahon has brought her family to the Home for the Holidays lantern making to kick off the Christmas season.
“This is our tradition after Thanksgiving,” she said.
“There are so many things for the kids to do and we try to patronize the stores in the area as well,” Karecki added.
Home for the Holidays has sponsored the free lantern making event for about 10 years, said Jeri Robinson of the Home for the Holidays Committee. Every year the event brings in a good turnout, the most being 100.
This year children chose between a round lantern or one shaped as a hot air balloon. The kids colored the lanterns and decorated them with stickers and ribbon, and then chose a colored glow stick for inside the lantern.
At 4:30 p.m., just before the annual Lighted Holiday Parade, the kids were set to walk around the Grundy County Courthouse and show off their creations. They finished up just in time to see the lighted parade leave down Liberty Street for Chapin Park.
“It’s a lot of fun and they have a good time,” Robinson said.
For the second year, Kathy Hornsby of Morris brought her grandsons from Bloomington to the lantern making event.
Ian Hornsby, 10, was making his lantern into Santa’s sleigh. He said he liked making the lanterns but most looks forward to attending the annual lighted parade.
“It’s fun. Sometimes you see mascots,” he said.
This year the parade has about 20 entrees from the community, plus the big head characters the kids always look forward to and Mr. and Mrs. Claus, parade chairman Ken Buck said. The characters in the parade include Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Scooby-Doo, Dora the Explorer, The Grinch and more.
The parade ends at Chapin Park where the park is lit up for the season.
“It’s become a nice community event,” Buck said. “The committee really looks forward to it and a lot more people are watching it. And of course the weather is perfect for it.”
Following the parade many families line up at Santa’s house for a picture with Mr. Claus at Canalport Plaza at Liberty Street and Illinois. Pictures with Santa also are available from 10 a.m. to noon today at the Grundy County Courthouse where Santa will be with his reindeer. Santa also will be available every Saturday (from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Sunday (from 1 to 3 p.m.) through Dec. 22.
For the Vanheiden and Schroder family, Friday was their first time making lanterns at the Eagle’s Hall.
Janelle Vanheiden of Morris decided to bring her children this year because making crafts is a favorite activity of her oldest child, 6-year-old Owen Schroder’s. But even her 4-year-old son Grant and 2-year-old daughter Elayna enjoyed decorating the lanterns.
“There is just so much stuff going on – carriage rides, apple cider – so we just wanted to get out for the day,” Vanheiden said.
“It’s a perfect day for this,” added her mother, Connie Vanheiden.
Activities continue today, with the biggest event being the Christmas House Walk and Complimentary Tea. The house walk is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be bought at any house on the walk.