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posted: 11/22/2012 4:50 PM

Snowman Fest kicks off new Hometown Holidays

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Many Napervillians are likely to have their holiday traditions shaken up a bit this year, but city officials say it's for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to allow more residents to participate in the Hometown Holidays festivities.

Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, said the organization is taking advantage of a very rare fifth Saturday in December by moving the Little Friends Parade of Lights from the Friday after Thanksgiving to 4 p.m. Dec. 1.

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"We're trying some new things this year while also trying not to rock anyone's holiday world too much," Wood said. "We've estimated that between one-third and half of our city's population is out of town on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Moving it back a week allows our Hometown Holidays parade to happen at a time when our hometown is here to see it. Our schools will also be in session and that enables our children to be part of it."

The nearly 300,000 lights that illuminate the downtown trees and roof tops were turned on three weeks early to accentuate the holiday shopping season.

Those who are staying in town this weekend needn't fret, however, as Wood said the alliance made sure to have a special event planned for Friday.

"We are reintroducing the painted sculptures that have been so popular in recent years," Wood said. "We'll be unveiling 20 5-foot-tall painted snowmen at 4 p.m. Friday and we're calling it Snowman Fest."

The painted snowmen are each sponsored by a business that is coordinating with a local artist.

Beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, maps to locate the snowmen will be available at the intersection of Main Street and Jefferson Avenue. Children visiting the snowmen will be given goody bags while supplies last.

Residents may then vote online for their favorite snowman and prizes will be awarded to the top three.

Free Holly Trolley rides and pictures with Frosty the Snowman will be available from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Hometown Holidays will wrap up on New Year's Eve with a family friendly celebration.

"Ringing In the new year starts with the Bubble Bash at the DuPage Children's Museum, continues with a scavenger hunt and other activities throughout the afternoon and ends with a 6 p.m. ringing of the new year at the Carillon," Wood said. "Then we can all take a rest."

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