ST. CHARLES – The Downtown St. Charles Partnership has announced that local athletes of Special Olympics Illinois have been selected as the grand marshals for the 2018 Electric Christmas Parade, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 24 between 6th Street and 4th Avenue on Main Street in downtown St. Charles.
Representing Special Olympics of Illinois will be athletes of different ages from St. Charles East High School, St. Charles North High School and Fox Valley Special Recreation Association. In honor of Special Olympics celebrating its 50th anniversary, Downtown St. Charles Partnership officials invited Special Olympians in St. Charles to represent the organization as its 2018 grand marshals.
Recent St. Charles East High School graduate Christopher Chavez, who took home two gold and two silver medals at the USA Games held in Seattle this past July, has been selected as one of the grand marshals. He received his two gold medals in the 100 meter dash and long jump and his silver medals in javelin throw and team 4x100 meter relay.
Kylie Langland, 15, of St. Charles, participates in bowling, bocce and track and field, and will also be there to represent Special Olympics of Illinois.
“It gives my family great pride to be a part of Special Olympics and be able to represent such a wonderful organization,” Sharon Langland, Kylie's mother, said in a news release from Downtown St. Charles Partnership. “The ability to be grand marshals will promote further awareness for all children and adults with special needs. It allows the City of St. Charles and all surrounding communities to see what this amazing organization can offer."
Jennifer Payne, mother of Grant Sturgeon, a basketball and running star who participates with Fox Valley Special Recreation Association, said she is grateful for the recognition.
"As a parent, it means community awareness and acceptance," Payne said in the release. "Many businesses in this community have embraced individuals with special needs and discovered valuable employees in the process. As athletes, the effort given at every event is 110 percent of what they thought they were capable of giving. It is so inspiring."
Downtown St. Charles Partnership Executive Director Jenna Sawicki said the organization is "incredibly happy to have members of Special Olympics Illinois be our grand marshals this year."
"This means a lot to us, but I’m sure it means even more to them," she said in the release.
The Electric Christmas Parade is organized by the organization along with the help of many volunteers. Presented by Fox Valley Auto Group, Holiday Homecoming is a two-day event culminating in the parade.
There will be a featuring Lighting of the Lights at 5 p.m. November 23 on the 1st Street Plaza. The event will include carols and a visit by Santa Claus.
Prior to the parade on Nov. 24, there will be a full day of activities, including a free showing of "Home Alone" and a Christmas Carol sing-a-long at 10 a.m. at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St. and free horse-drawn sleigh rides from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on 1st Street. In addition, Santa’s house on 1st Street Plaza will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. and there will be live Holiday window displays in downtown businesses from 1 to 5 p.m.
All Holiday Homecoming events and activities are free of charge. Santa's House will be open until Dec. 23. More information is available by going to Downtown St. Charles Partnership's website at www.downtownstcharles.org.