ST. CHARLES – In past years, a lighting of the lights ceremony, horse-drawn trolley rides and an Electric Christmas Parade helped usher in the holidays as part of the two-day Holiday Homecoming event in downtown St. Charles.
The pandemic has forced organizers to drop this year's parade and the traditional lighting of the lights ceremony will become a virtual event. But organizers still hope to provide plenty of holiday cheer as part of this year's Holiday Homecoming.
"We will scale back the event to stay within governmental guidelines while continuing to follow our mission of attracting people to St. Charles to shop and dine," Jenna Sawicki, executive director of the St. Charles Business Alliance, said in a memo to aldermen.
The St. Charles Business Alliance organizes the event, set for Nov. 27-28 in downtown St. Charles. She will talk about the event during the St. Charles City Council's Government Services Committee meeting on Monday.
Instead of the traditional lighting of the lights ceremony, the St. Charles Business Alliance plans to pre-record a lighting of the lights ceremony, which will then be broadcast on its social media pages on Nov. 27.
In place of the Electric Christmas Parade, there will be a Holiday Tree Trail. Approximately 45 real trees will be put up around First Street and the Riverwalk.
"Local businesses, organizations or individuals will have the opportunity to purchase a tree to light and decorate with their individual theme," Sawicki said.
The trees will stay up through Jan. 1. In addition, plans are to set up Santa’s House on the East Plaza with limited hours Nov 28.
"The house will be set up so Santa will be socially distant from visitors, still allowing for a photo to be taken," she said. "There will be a mailbox set up for children to leave their letters."
As proposed, the Holiday Homecoming event would also feature an ice sculptor. The sculptor would be set up in a private area where phase four Restore Illinois guidelines could be followed.
Those guidelines call for mass gatherings of no more than 50 people.