South Elgin was the place to be on Saturday to make s'mores, decorate cookies, go on pony rides and even hear Santa sing carols before the annual lighting of the tree.
"It is An Almost Winter Day" at SEBA Park offered all that and more to hundreds of adults and children who got an early dose of the Christmas spirit.
Contact information ( * required )
South Elgin friends Genevieve Olsen and Shea Bohndorf, both 5, especially enjoyed their sleigh ride.
"It's cool that it was horses pulling me," Genevieve said. "I wanted to pet the horses," Shea chimed in. "I did that."
Genevieve's mother, Tiffany Olsen, said the family loves the annual festival.
"It's awesome to be able to do things in the community. And it's either free or low-cost," she said.
Waiting in line for 30 minutes to go on a sleigh ride was worth it for Lisa Quatroke of Elgin, who came with her two children as part of a group of three adults and nine children.
"This is cool. It's good for the kids to come out and have a little fun," she said.
Terry Mattia of Lombard came with his four grandchildren -- sisters Elizabeth, 10, and Olivia, 7, and their cousins Richie, 9, and Joey, 6 -- plus Olivia's friend Carli, 7.
"We did everything today," Mattia said. "The Polar Express, the petting zoo, hot dogs, soup. Now they're in line for balloons."
"The best part was petting the ducks while they were chasing me," said Elizabeth, who donned a purple Santa hat.
While the temperature in the low 50s was great for a little pre-winter fun, it was still too cold for 11-year-old Alec Turner, who warmed up by the bonfire. Alec said he, too, really liked the petting zoo.
"The llama was awesome," he said.
Alec's grandfather, Donald Fisher of South Elgin, gave kudos to the event's organizers.
"This is the best thing they ever did in South Elgin," he said. "They do it for the kids; there are all these activities to do. Whatever little bit of money they spent for this, it's money well-spent."