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Article updated: 11/30/2013 12:32 AM

St. Charles lights up the downtown to start holiday season

Amanda Vallejera, of the combined St. Charles North High School and St. Charles East choirs, belts out a Christmas tune.

Amanda Vallejera, of the combined St. Charles North High School and St. Charles East choirs, belts out a Christmas tune.

 
St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina shares a laugh and a hug with “In St. Charles” songwriter Jim Masters during the ceremony.

St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina shares a laugh and a hug with "In St. Charles" songwriter Jim Masters during the ceremony.

 
The lights shine brightly after the tree-lighting ceremony Friday at First Street Plaza in St. Charles.

The lights shine brightly after the tree-lighting ceremony Friday at First Street Plaza in St. Charles.

 

photos by Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.com Mr. Dale Morgan of St. Charles North directs the combined North and East choir during the tree lighting ceremony Friday at First Street Plaza in St. Charles.

Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.com Mr. Dale Morgan of St. Charles North directs the combined North and East choir during the tree lighting ceremony Friday at First Street Plaza in St. Charles.

 
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The First Street Plaza in St. Charles was filled with hundreds of people and the booming sound of music Friday, as the combined St. Charles North and East High School choirs sang "In St. Charles" a song written by Jim Masters, a graduate of the class of 1972 class at St. Charles.

St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina illuminated the holiday lights on the First Street Plaza for the first time Friday evening, signaling the official start of the city's holiday season.

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"In my six months as mayor, I have cut lots of ribbons" Rogina said as he brought a group of kids up to help him throw the switch for the lights.

Chorales from St. Charles East and North high schools sang holiday songs and Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance.

The lights and songs were just the beginning.

Modern-day holiday favorite "The Polar Express" begins showings at the Arcada Theatre, for free, starting at 10:30 a.m. today.

Free horse-drawn sleigh rides on the First Street Plaza also will begin this afternoon.

All of that is a prelude to the city's Holiday Homecoming Parade.

The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. today along Main Street (between Sixth Street and Fourth Avenue). There is no parking on the route from 3 to 7 p.m.

After the parade, and throughout the holiday season, the featured holiday attraction downtown will be "Santa's House."

A visit to the house on First Street Plaza includes a one-on-one audience with Santa himself for Christmas wishes and photos.

The house is open from 1 to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 22.

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