Downtown Aurora is ready to open the holiday season with the second annual Winter Lights event.
The free, family friendly event is from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22 and will feature art, music, lights, refreshments and the lighting of the city's official holiday tree. The festivities will take place on Downer Place, Stolp Avenue and Galena Boulevard in downtown.
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Patrons are invited to shop along Downer Place and Stolp Avenue where several businesses will be extending their hours, including the David L. Pierce Art and History Center at 20 E. Downer; River's Edge Café and Fox Valley Home Brew at 14 W. Downer; Vara Designs at 15 W. Downer; and If These Walls Could Talk at 32 S. Stolp. Nearly a dozen well-known local and regional vendors will be participating with holiday treats and treasures on display for purchase.
Among the activities planned for the evening is ice sculptor Joe Gagnepain creating a spectacular winter ice sculpture outside the Art and History Center and John Ivan providing holiday carols while families stroll through the festive streets decorated for the holidays.
At Millennium Plaza, on Stolp between Downer and Galena, free holiday classic movies will be shown continuously in the Gazebo from 5 to 7:30 p.m., accompanied by favorite holiday characters. Patrons are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring a blanket. Popcorn and hot chocolate will be available for purchase from nearby vendors.
The Fox Valley Festival Chorus, which appeared at Carnegie Hall last spring, will perform at 5:30 p.m. on the steps of the North Island Center, 8 E. Galena. Following the choir performance, the city's official holiday tree will be lit for the first time at 6 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with the Miss Merry Christmas and Mr. Jack Frost winners will be on hand to help Mayor Tom Weisner flip the switch.
Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras as Santa will be available for photos on the steps of the GAR museum, 23 E. Downer, near the Victorian Christmas tree immediately following the tree lighting. The Aurora 88's reindeer on roller skates will guide patrons from the tree lighting, along the Paramount Promenade, to the museum.
Local businesses are encouraged to take part and decorate for the Winter Lights event, and a trophy will be awarded for the best decorated store front. Business owners can pick up an application at the city's Special Events Division, 5 E. Downer, Suite A. Applications can be returned via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at (630) 256-3379.
Decorations must be completed and displayed by Nov. 20. Judging will take place on Nov. 21 and the winner will be announced during the holiday tree lighting ceremony.
Holiday Lights is sponsored by the city in conjunction with Cultural Creatives, Inc., the Aurora Public Art Commission, River's Edge Cafe, The Paramount Theatre, Temple Display and the Aurora Rotary Club.
For more information, call (630) 256-4636.