Flossmoor kicked off its holiday festivities on Saturday, Nov. 27, with the first in a series of four events that will spread village traditions throughout the season.
Residents gathered on the lawn in front of the Flossmoor Public Library in the afternoon enjoy visits with Santa Claus, cookies and hot chocolate and a seasonal photo booth.
The village's previous holiday festival, Winterfest, was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the sight of residents mingling and reconnecting was especially welcome to Mayor Michelle Nelson.
"Seeing people in person is what builds community, so it's nice to see everybody out here to kick start the holidays together," she said. "I know it's not a normal time period yet but it feels normal, especially when you think about what was happening last year at this time."
Shortly after 5 p.m. village Event Manager Stephanie Wright, Police Chief Tod Kamleiter and a small entourage escorted Santa Claus to Park Place in Flossmoor Park on the east side of the railroad tracks for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
The mood was set by Homewood-Flossmoor High School's Treble Singers, who offered several carols while the crowd gathered.
Inside Park Place, Cpl. Laurence Voight of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, and Lance Cpl. Miguel Hernandez had finished collecting toys for the Toys for Tots program, which provides toys to organizations that help them find homes with less fortunate children.
Voight said they brought five big boxes to hold the toys but they received so many donations that they had to use five large plastic bags, too. During her remarks before the lighting ceremony, Nelson said more than 420 toys were donated during the afternoon collection.
"This is what building community is all about. You are filling me with joy for being here," Nelson said.
Nelson thanked all the village staff and volunteers who made the event possible, including Stephanie Wright, the event manager and lead organizer.
She announced that a candle in the menorah, also located in front of Park Place, would be lit at 4:30 p.m. each day starting Sunday, Nov. 28, in honor of Hannukah.
Nelson also noted that starting Dec. 26, the village will celebrate Kwanzaa with the lighting of the kinara at Park Place in Flossmoor Park each night at 4:30 p.m.
"Why did I add a kinara to our festivities? Because I think the principles of Kwanzaa reflect the values of this community," she said.
She also urged the crowd to visit the opening performance in the Windows on Sterling program, organized by Marcellus Marsh of Bionic Content and hosted by Gypsy Fix, a boutique on the corner of Sterling Avenue and Flossmoor Road.
Some took her advice, and there was dancing on the sidewalk as DJ Phil Lee got the show going after an introduction by Marsh and window designer Marjorie McCaw.
"We're so grateful to have this opportunity," Marsh said. "We're excited to see Flossmoor with this kind of activity for the holidays."
McCaw, wearing a Santa hat and a necklace of colored lights, did the countdown to the lighting of the store window display.
"The perfect way to kick off the holiday season is with some holiday windows," she said.
Lee got the music started, and guest DJs Nelson and Rich Township Clerk Sugar Amin were scheduled to follow.
Windows on Sterling performances will include H-F High School, Marian High School and Beverly Theatre Guild singers on Dec. 4, HF Suzuki Strings and Beverly Theatre Guild singers on Dec. 11 and Infiniti Dance Company, Beverly Theatre Guild singers and an Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra violinist on Dec. 18.