Despite unusually warm weather, Bensenville's annual Holiday Magic festival Sunday transformed the Town Center into a festive winter wonderland.
Fully decorated trees, live reindeer and holiday carols filled the park at Green and Center streets. Santa Claus himself was on hand, talking to children who waited in a line that seemed to stretch for blocks. The event culminated in the annual tree lighting ceremony.
Bensenville Trustee Henry Wesseler said the village is proud to continue holding the free event for the community at a time when many suburbs have cut back on holiday festivals because of economic pressures.
"This is a long-standing tradition here," said Wesseler, who displayed his spirit by wearing a Santa Claus hat. "It's great to see people come out and have the community come together on a night like this."
Asked about how Sunday's weather compared to previous years, Wesseler laughed. Sunday's temperatures neared 60 degrees with sunny skies.
"Last year was definitely colder," he said. "I wore this same hat, but I think I had on a coat and gloves, too. This weather is pretty amazing."
The festival offered a slew of activities for local families. In addition to a visit with Santa, children could take a holiday train ride in the streets, get their faces painted and take a look at one of Santa's sleigh-pulling reindeer.
Adults, meanwhile, were able to sample the different kinds of chili prepared for the traditional chili cook-off. This year's version featured members of area fire departments, including Bensenville, Elmhurst, Berwyn and Oak Park.
Resident Carla Washington brought her 6-year-old son, Phillip, to the event so he could meet Santa. Phillip, who was all smiles, said he asked Santa for some Legos and a "Toy Story" game.
"He was so excited to see him, and it actually didn't take too long to get our turn," she said. "With Thanksgiving just a few days away, this is a nice way to get into the holiday spirit."