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Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 01:07 am

For the holidays, plan some jollydays

From the Festival of Trees to First Night, here’s what to do for a special season


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With the holiday season upon us, the Springfield community hosts a variety of celebrations that will have even Ebeneezer Scrooge joyfully singing, “ ’Tis the season.”

For many, the “official” holiday season begins with Memorial Medical Center Foundation’s annual Festival of Trees. The nine-day celebration, taking place Nov. 22 through Nov. 30 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Orr Building, features more than 100 trees and wreaths, each decorated with its own theme. The young, as well as the young at heart, can enjoy the giant teddy bear display, as well as the festival’s Gingerbread Village, which has more than 50 lavishly decorated gingerbread houses. The festival also has a children’s area where little ones can make Christmas ornaments and bracelets, and take photos with Santa.

The festival’s entertainment schedule includes musical performances from a variety of local groups, such as the Eddy Flute Choir, Springfield Municipal Band, Springfield Ballet Company, Prairie Land Dancers, Heart of Illinois Brass Band, Silver Steppers, Springfield Area Youth Jazz Band, Land of Lincoln Barbershop Chorus, Springfield Show Stoppers and many more.

Hours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 5 to 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day 4 to 8 p.m. Adults $5. Children ages three to twelve $2.

Downtown Springfield comes alive with the city’s annual Old Capitol Holiday Walk, held December 3, 4, 10, 17 and 18 from 5 to 9 p.m. While visiting more than 60 unique shops, holiday shoppers enjoy music from the strolling musicians or take a ride on the city’s horse-drawn trolley.

Christmas would not be complete without the Springfield Jaycees annual Christmas Parade. This year’s parade, “Holiday Scenes from the Big Screen,” is scheduled Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. in downtown Springfield. Area music and dance groups join Santa as they float through downtown Springfield spreading holiday cheer. For more information contact Rachel Griminger at 217-971-1652.

As always, the sweet sounds of holiday music fill the air throughout the holiday season. On Nov. 22, the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) hosts the high-energy Bluegrass sounds of the “Cherryholmes Christmas.” Concert for the Grammy-nominated Midwest group begins at 8 p.m. in Sangamon Auditorium. Tickets are $27 to $37.

On Dec. 7, Parkway Christian Church hosts its annual Holiday Organ Concert, featuring a singalong with Mark Gifford. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. Adults $7.50. Children under age 18 $2.50.

If symphonic tunes are your choice of music, you won’t want to miss the sounds of the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony, Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Sangamon Valley Community Orchestra. The youth group’s annual winter concert takes place Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church’s west location. The Sangamon Valley Community Orchestra’s winter concert is held Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. On Dec. 20, the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony and the Illinois Symphony Orchestra unite for two performances at UIS’s annual Holiday Pops concert, scheduled at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets for each concert are $17 to $37.

Theater lovers can ring in the season with Hoogland Center for the Arts holiday productions, A Tuna Christmas and Christmas Wishes. A Tuna Christmas features the antics of two radio station news personalities as they attempt to stay afloat while reporting yuletide activities. The play, featuring comedians Rich McCoy and Darin Harms, is held Dec. 5 through 7 and Dec. 12 through 14. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees beginning at 4 p.m. $15.

Christmas Wishes, the Roxy Group’s new musical revue, features the vocals of 12 Springfield residents singing traditional holiday songs, such as “Deck the Halls,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland” and “O Holy Night.” The vocalists are accompanied by the Roxy Group’s 10-piece swing orchestra. The production takes place Dec. 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. Adults $16. Children under age twelve $12.

UIS hosts the Springfield Ballet Company’s holiday staple, The Nutcracker. Sponsored by Solomon Colors and Carrolton Bank, the production, scheduled Dec. 6 and 7, begins at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Adults $27. Children $17.

You and your children won’t want to miss the Springfield Park District’s holiday fun. Henson Robinson Zoo’s Second annual “Pancakes, Paws & Santa Claus” is held Saturday, Dec. 6 from 8 to10 a.m. The event, held at the Lincoln Greens Golf Course Banquet Hall, features a delicious pancake breakfast, and visits from Santa and a few of the zoo’s most cuddly animals. Adults $8. Children $6. Reservations required.
Thousands of lights and displays illuminate Henson Robinson Zoo during the annual Holiday Lights at the Zoo. Held Dec. 5 through 7 from 5 to 8 p.m., spectators view the animals while leisurely touring the zoo. Children can enjoy arts and crafts, while parents visit the zoo’s gift shop. Adults $2.50. Children $1.25.

Some 27 different poinsettias, as well as tropical plants and evergreens, fill Washington Botanical Garden’s Exhibit Hall and Conservatory during its annual Winter Holiday Show. The event, held Dec. 6 through 28, also features twelve decorated Christmas trees, each representing a month of the year. Hours are Monday through Friday 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday 12 to 5p.m. Admission is free.

On December 14, holiday music again fills the air during Washington Park’s annual “Christmas at the Carillon.” The Dec. 14 program, which begins at 4:30 at the Rees Carillon, features 67 music bells, a roaring bonfire, as well as hot cocoa and cookies. Free admission.

Skate the day away at the Springfield Park District’s Youth Discovery Challenge. The Dec. 13 show spotlights a Christmas Exhibition presented by the city’s Ice Skating Club. Free public skate sessions, and lessons on the art of ice bowling and broom ball also takes place. The program is scheduled at Lincoln Park’s Nelson Center from 3 to 9 p.m. Free admission.

Holidays Around the World is the theme of the Illinois State Museum’s Dec. 13 Super Saturday. Through arts, crafts, games, and other activities, area youth learn the unique ways children from other cultures celebrate the season. The program takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.

Toast the old year goodbye and usher in the new year at Springfield’s First Night. This family-oriented celebration features the best in theater, dance, music and art. The celebration begins at 1 p.m. with activities and performances geared toward youths, followed by entertainment for the entire family. The event culminates at midnight with a fireworks display. For more information, contact Springfield Area Arts Council at 753-3519.

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