5 things to do in the Illinois Valley: Christmas season kicks into full gear after Thanksgiving

Several community-wide Christmas celebrations planned

Sawyer Tiberi appears to pop out of a gift box Saturday while exploring under the Chris Kringle Market Christmas Tree on the Jordan block in Ottawa.

1 - Step into a Hallmark movie this weekend in Ottawa. The Chris Kringle Market, featuring 42 vendor huts at the Jordan block and Washington Square, will be open 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Along with the market opening, the lighted parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday with a fireworks display to follow. The parade begins at La Salle and Jackson streets, then heads south to Main Street. There will be several other activities Saturday and Sunday at the Jordan block and Washington Square. Go to https://www.facebook.com/OttawaVisitorsCenter for more information.

Elmo and Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street greet lighted parade goers Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, during Streator's Keeping Christmas Close to Home celebration.

2 - Watch Streator illuminate with Christmas lights Saturday for Keeping Christmas Close to Home. The Light Up Streator volunteer committee will light City Park at 6:30 p.m., followed by the lighted parade along Main Street from Illinois to Park streets, then to City Park. The event also features carriage rides 8 to 9:30 p.m. (at City Park), a vendors market 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (at Park Place, 406 E. Hickory St.; Bruce Township Hall, 216 N. Sterling St.; and the Streator Incubator, 301 W. Bridge St.), a model train display 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Streator Incubator, and new this year, live ice sculpting 2 to 4 p.m. at Heritage Park.

Saturday's Lighted Christmas Parade in Spring Valley

3 - Celebrate the coming of Christmas season Saturday in Spring Valley. The lighted Christmas parade is scheduled 6 p.m. The parade begins at Hall High School, travels east on St. Paul Street to Power Street. Following the parade, there will be the lighting of the tree, the unveiling of the twinkle tunnel, opportunities to mail letters to Santa and performances by the Hall Devilettes, JFK Elementary school band and barbershop quartet at the downtown mini park.

4 - Experience more Christmas fun this weekend in Utica. An Old Fashioned Christmas in the Village is scheduled 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, a strolling barbershop quartet, free trolley service, children’s activities, snacks and the Christmas in the Canal Vendor Show. Santa will visit 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday the Heritage Center, 208 Clark St. The Santa parade will be 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Ottawa High School band plays during the Dean Riley Shootin’ The Rock Tournament on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022 at Kingman Gymnasium.

5 - Attend a Thanksgiving basketball tournament in Ottawa or Seneca. Games will take place all day Friday and Saturday, with the tournaments culminating in the championship of the Dean Riley Shootin’ the Rock Tournament in Ottawa at 5:30 p.m. Saturday; and the championship of the Seneca Thanksgiving Tournament at 6 p.m. Saturday. Local teams Princeton, La Salle-Peru, Streator and Ottawa will be competing in the Dean Riley, while Newark, Serena, Somonauk, Hall, Mendota and Seneca will be competing in Seneca.

Would you like your event featured in this weekly feature? The first step is submitting your events to The Times, NewsTribune or Bureau County Republican’s community calendar at starvedrockcountry.com/local-events where they are then considered for inclusion in this feature.

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