Plans are underway for Christmas in Carterville on Dec. 1.
“Christmas in Carterville is the kickoff for the holiday season in Carterville,” City Clerk Khrissy Hollister said.
The annual celebration is the first Friday of December, weather permitting. Hollister explained that a few snow flurries just add to the ambiance downtown, but significant snowfall or rain will postpone the event for a week.
A two-block area Division Street will be blocked off downtown from 6 to 9 p.m.
“We have a contained, safe, festive atmosphere. We are going to have everything from horse and carriage rides to free hot chocolate and cookies, candy canes, games for kids, making cards for soldiers and face painting,” Hollister said.
In addition, the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus, will be available for visits with children of all ages. Other activities will include a snowball drop, cooking baking contest and Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Tables will be located throughout the downtown area with activities and treats.
Children will have the opportunity to write letters to the Santa Claus and mail them in a Magic Santa Mailbox. If the letters are placed in the special mailbox, Santa has promised to reply by mail to the children.
A stage will be located downtown, and Carterville High School jazz band will perform.
A vacant parking lot on the east side of Division Street (next door to Sweet Escapes Candy Shop) will be transformed into a vendor market. A silent auction will feature one item from each vendor. Proceeds from the auction will help make Christmas a little merrier for one family in town.
To help alleviate long lines for the horse and carriage rides, a fast pass will be available. Tickets can be bought as soon as you arrive downtown and will come with your choice of time slots. Those waiting can enjoy other activities, instead of standing in line.
“We also added another horse and carriage. So, we will have two carriages going all evening,” Hollister added.
In addition to the planned activities, some downtown businesses will have special hours to allow shopping during the event.
She added that organizers try to make the event a little different, a little bit better every year. So, they are open to suggestions. They also try to make it affordable for families to attend.
“I think what makes the event so special is that churches, businesses and volunteers all come together as one. Everyone is there to kick off the holiday season,” Hollister said. “We couldn’t do it without volunteers, sponsors, organizations like the Rotary and Lions Club, and businesses.”
For more information, visit Christmas in Carterville 2017 on Facebook.