One of the area’s favorite holiday traditions, the Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade, will take place on Friday, Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Joliet. Hosted by the University of St. Francis (USF) with the Exchange Club of Joliet and Joliet City Center Partnership, and with additional sponsorships from BMO Harris Bank, First Community Financial Bank, Midland States Bank and Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, the celebration annually brings more than 25,000 people to Joliet’s City Center for the procession down Joliet’s historic Chicago Street. USF’s new President Arvid Johnson and the Saints mascot, Bernie the Saint Bernard, will pair up for this year’s grand marshal duties.
Immediately before the parade at 5:15 p.m., Mayor Tom Giarrante and representatives of the Joliet City Council will join with Johnson to light the city’s Christmas tree in Van Buren Plaza.
9:30 a.m. and noon: Teddy Bear Tea at Rialto Square Theatre (15 E. Van Buren St.)
Reservations must be made in advance. Call Rialto Square Theatre Box Office at (815) 726-6600. Come enjoy the special brunch featuring foods, keepsake teddy bear and Santa too! $22.50 for adults, $17.50 for children 12 and under. Children under 2 are free.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Joliet Historical Museum Free Day (204 N. Ottawa St.)
Courtesy of Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, enjoy activities and refreshments (available while supplies last) at the museum. Includes a live ice carving demonstration by Joliet Junior College Culinary Arts students at 10 a.m., kids’ craft activities in the lower level Caterpillar Auditorium from noon until 4 p.m., a performance by Joliet Central High School’s brass quintet at 1 p.m., a performance by Joliet Central’s orchestra quartet at 2 p.m. and “The Gnome Show” at 3 p.m.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Joliet Public Library’s Holiday Fun Day (150 N. Ottawa St.)
Activities include free coloring page crafts (while supplies last) and “Story time with Santa” at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Bring your camera to take pictures with Santa! At 4:30 p.m., sing along with the library’s “Circulation Carolers” on the library’s Chicago Street steps.
10 a.m. until the end of parade: Visit the Red Goose Bakery and Café (56 N. Chicago St.)
Hot chocolate and a full menu will be available. Red Goose Bakery and Café will also be kicking off their holiday movie series of holiday-themed movies every day starting the day of the festival and running through the holiday season.
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Holiday Activities at the JJC Renaissance Center (214 N. Ottawa St.)
The Joliet Junior College Renaissance Center will be hosting a “Brunch with Santa” from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. featuring favorite holiday foods for kids and adults alike. $14.95 for adults and $9.95 for children 10 and under. Contact Susan Stockwell for reservations at (815) 280-1404 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations are not required but recommended– walk-ins are still welcome. During the same hours, The Forest Preserve District of Will County staff will assist young visitors with three different holiday crafts at the “Fantastic Fun Fair!” Young ones can decorate a tote bag, create a snowflake and embellish an ornament. The JJC Renaissance Center will also offer a “make your own cookie” booth at the fun fair while supplies last. The Joliet Park District will coordinate a host of holiday games.
12 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Visit the Joliet Route 66 Diner (22 W. Clinton St.)
The Joliet Route 66 Diner invites everyone to celebrate the holidays! Children will have the opportunity to take pictures by the diner’s holiday tree and receive gifts from Santa. Restaurant hours on parade day are 5 a.m. – 5 p.m.
2 – 5 p.m.: Festival of Trees at Rialto Square Theatre (15 E. Van Buren St.)
General Admission: $7 for adults; $5 for seniors (60+) and children 12 and under; children under 2 are free. Parade day will include a showing of “Arthur” (PG) at 3 p.m. (included in general admission fee). Visit www.rialtosquare.com for more information on the week-long festival that begins Nov. 25.
3 p.m. – 6 p.m.: Visit Chicken-N-Spice (251 N. Chicago St.)
Stop by Chicken-N-Spice from 3-6 p.m. for $1 hot chocolates, face painting, and a free holiday treat from Santa’s reindeer. Restaurant hours on parade day are 7:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
3 p.m. – 8 p.m.: “AdventAdventure” at First and Santa Cruz Lutheran Parish (55 W. Benton St.)
Enjoy free popcorn & hot cocoa, German chocolates and Mexican Pan Dulce. Begin the count-down-to-Christmas with an Advent Calendar and other make-it-and-take-it crafts. Help build Trees of
Hope for the Blessing Bench Food Pantry with your donation of non-perishable foods. For more info call (815) 722-4800.
5:15 p.m.: City Christmas Tree Lighting (Van Buren Plaza, Downtown Joliet)
Mayor Tom Giarrante, members of the Joliet City Council and new USF president Arvid Johnson (parade grand marshal!) will light the city’s beautiful Christmas tree.
5:30 p.m.: Light Up the Holidays Parade (Chicago St., Downtown Joliet)
Get your spot along the streets and settle in for a lighted parade of wonder and magic, featuring area bands, organizations, floats, and more. Don’t miss welcoming University of St. Francis’ new president Dr. Arvid Johnson as grand marshal, joined by “Bernie,” the Fighting Saints mascot!
Before and After Parade
Enjoy a spectacular holiday fireworks display before and after the parade, launched from the Rialto Theatre building. All spectators should be able to see them from their parade-viewing spots.
To learn more about University of St. Francis, which serves 3,400 students nationwide with undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and science, business, education, nursing, health care and social work, call (800) 735-7500 or visit www.stfrancis.edu.