An outdoor house and apartment holiday decorating contest has been added to the list of events for this year's Dickens in Dundee festival.
Organizers in East and West Dundee invited homeowners and apartment dwellers to put up their lights, dust off their snowmen, and shake the cobwebs out of their lighted Santas before the two-day festival begins on Friday, Dec. 6. They are urged to turn on their displays from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 so they can be judged.
"This is an event we had a couple of years ago for the festival, but it was stopped," said Barb Traver, West Dundee Village Clerk. "Now, we want to bring it back."
Displays will be judged from one of five themes: Best Dickens Theme, Best Use of Characters, Best Use of Lighting, Best Apartment Dweller and Winter Wonderland.
The deadline to enter was Dec. 1. During judging, houses will be photographed. Photos and addresses of participating homes will be displayed online at the websites of each village. Residents will decide which homes should win in each of the five categories.
Local residents will not have to wait to see outdoor Christmas displays, though. They will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, when the festival begins and East Dundee officials light their holiday tree along North River Street in Depot Park.
The Dundee-Crown Chamber Choir will perform at the ceremony, and Santa will arrive on an East Dundee fire truck after the lights are turned on.
West Dundee officials will light their outdoor holiday tree that same day at 7 p.m. They also will have members of the Dundee Crown Chamber Choir sing carols.
This marks the 26th year for the festival. Many events from previous years continue. Shopkeepers along Route 72 and North River Street will have their windows decorated and filled with live characters and scenes of the season from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. West Dundee officials will host an open house with Santa in their village hall that night, and, in East Dundee, carolers will stroll through the business district.
The Spirit of Christmas Parade will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the West Dundee village hall; participants will walk east along Route 72 and turn on North River Street in East Dundee.
For more than two decades, Dickens in Dundee has been sponsored by the village of West Dundee in cooperation with East Dundee, and local groups like the Dundee Township Historical Society and the Dundee Lions Club. This year, the village on the east side of the river is taking a larger role in putting on activities.
The festival is an important part of the holiday season for everyone who lives or does business in and around Dundee Township, said Karen Blair, East Dundee's marketing director.
New to the festival this year will be "Carol for a Can," which will give local residents a chance to participate in a "Sing-Off." Starting after 7 p.m. Friday, carolers are asked to bring a can of soup for FISH Food Pantry in Carpentersville to Bandito Barney's restaurant in East Dundee. From there, carolers will be assisted by a professional a cappella group and begin their stroll through the town collecting cans for the pantry. At 9 p.m., the singing groups are asked to bring their cellular telephones and their collected cans for a "sing-off" where the crowd-determined favorite will take home bragging rights and an opportunity to be in the "Spirit of Christmas" parade the next morning.
"We've heard that a number of residents have invited their friends over and go caroling during Dickens in Dundee. We just wanted to encourage that tradition by providing an opportunity to have fun and help the area FISH Pantry," Blair said.
During the festival, Lions Club members will sell Christmas trees in Cal Grafelman Park. They also will host their annual festival of trees, called the Ron Rhoades Festival of Trees. Students of local schools are assigned and decorate a tree. The public votes on the best decorated trees by putting coins near them. The money collected is sent to the participating schools.
For a complete schedule, visit www.dickensindundee.org/, or call the East Dundee village hall at (847) 426-2822.