Holiday in the Grove attracts hundreds

SUGAR GROVE – Tina Hubbard had been looking forward to Holiday in the Grove since her family attended the annual one-day event last year.

Thanks to Mother Nature disrupting the Sugar Grove residents' plans to spend the weekend out of town, Hubbard and her daughters – Savannah, 4, and Abby, 1 1/2 – were able to participate in Saturday's holiday activities, which included breakfast with Santa, a cake walk and children's crafts.

Activities were held at four locations, including John Shields Elementary School and Sugar Grove United Methodist Church.

By late morning, the Hubbards had visited the Sugar Grove Public Library for face painting and visited with Santa Claus at the Sugar Grove Community House.

Seeing Santa was, Hubbard said, "Savannah's first thing she wanted to do."

With temperatures well below freezing Saturday, Holiday in the Grove organizer Diana Baker said she wasn't sure how the weather would affect attendance.

But, she said, two of the three breakfast times sold out – each could accommodate about 150 people – and at one point about 200 people were in the Community Building during a performance by the Kaneland Youth Orchestra. And, judging by the number of brochures taken at John Shields Elementary School, Baker estimated attendance there had reached 400 by noon.

"It has been going very well," she said while overseeing the raffle table among the holiday craft show vendors.

In another room, several children, including 6-year-old Nicholas Casey, gathered around a storyteller reading a holiday tale.

"We come every year," the Sugar Grove boy's mother, Cara Casey, said.

In addition to liking the craft vendors, she said, they enjoy decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus and the library's activities. It is also easier to get a picture with Santa at Holiday in the Grove than at a mall, Casey said.

Rudy Zeithammel of Lombard brought his daughter, 2 1/2-year-old Grace, to the event to socialize with friends from Sugar Grove.

While the father and daughter didn't make it for breakfast, the girl got her picture taken with Santa, Zeithammel said. He noted they planned to spend about half a day there before partaking in holiday events in their hometown.

Plans for next year's Holiday in the Grove – set for Dec. 6 – will begin in January, Baker said. While the volunteers have been fabulous, she said, the organizing committee needs more members. She directed interested individuals to the event's website, http://holidayinthegrove.com, for contact information.