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Friday, 20 November 2015 14:40

Special edition: 15 ways to ring in the 2015 holidays

Written by  Denn
In 2015, the East Troy Electric Railroad’s Christmas Express will run weekends, Nov. 28-29, Dec. 5-6, Dec. 12-13 and Dec. 19-20. Rides begin at 9:30 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m. In 2015, the East Troy Electric Railroad’s Christmas Express will run weekends, Nov. 28-29, Dec. 5-6, Dec. 12-13 and Dec. 19-20. Rides begin at 9:30 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m. Terry Mayer/staff

The holiday season can be a time to worry about shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping and a never-ending to-do list.

However, the holidays also can be a time to enjoy the beauty of the season with decorated Christmas trees, lighted houses and storefronts, the aroma of hot chocolate and, of course, Santa Claus greeting children as they scurry to meet the jolly old elf.

If you’re looking for a way to bolster your holiday spirit, there’s plenty of seasonal events to enjoy. Here are our top 15 holiday events in the Stateline area:

1. Light up the Parks, Nov. 29, Loves Park, Machesney Park

Originally scheduled for Nov. 22, 2015, the Light up the Parks Festival was postponed to Nov. 29, 2015 because of last week's impending storm. The The festivities begin at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29 with the 18th annual Light up the Parks holiday parade, which begins at the Schneider Electric parking lot in Loves Park, travels through North Second Street and ends at the Machesney Park Towne Center for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

The parade will feature floats and bands and will conclude with Santa Claus arriving on a fire truck. Diana Johnson, executive director for the Parks Chamber of Commerce, said hundreds of people attend the parade each year.

"People like to look at the lights," Johnson said. "There’s candy for the kids. It’s a nice way to start off the holiday season."

The Parks Chamber begins planning for the parade in September, contacting local businesses and organizations to participate.

"We usually have about 40 entries all together," Johnson said.

2. East Troy Electric Railroad Christmas Express, weekends

The East Troy Electric Railroad’s Christmas Express will run weekends, Nov. 28-29, Dec. 5-6, Dec. 12-13 and Dec. 19-20. Rides begin at 9:30 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m.

The 45-minute, round-trip train rides will depart from the East Troy depot, 2002 Church St., and travel to Santa’s workshop at the Elegant Farmer.

The train rides will include Christmas carols, stories and a visit from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Once at the workshop, children will work on craft projects, enjoy cookies and hot chocolate and have their picture taken with Santa.

For more information, call 262-642-3263 or go online to

3. Holiday Light Show, Fridays through Sundays, Janesville

Rotary Botanical Gardens helps to brighten up the season with its annual Holiday Light Show. The gardens will be aglow from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 11 through Dec. 13, Dec. 17 through Dec. 23, Dec. 26, Dec. 27, Jan. 2 and Jan. 3.

The show will include 100 decorated trees, 500 lighted icicles hanging from the trees, more than 2,500 luminaries and 370,000 twinkling lights.

The light show also will include the Santa house, elf workshop and a Selfie Stops and Photo Opps photo contest. There also will be several activities in the garden center.

Santa will visit Dec. 19 through Dec. 23 and live reindeer will be featured Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.

For more information, call 608-752-3885 or go online to

4. Grand Lighted Holiday Parade, Nov. 27, Beloit

Area residents can ring in the holiday season after enjoying their Thanksgiving leftovers with the Grand Lighted Holiday Parade, which will be held Friday, Nov. 27 in downtown Beloit.

The festivities begin at 5 p.m. with holiday music, followed by a tree-lighting ceremony with Santa at 6 p.m. outside First National Bank and Trust. The parade begins at 6:15 p.m. and will feature about 40 lighted floats sponsored by local businesses and organizations.

Crystal Buhmeyer, program coordinator for the Downtown Beloit Association, said many people participate in the parade each year.

"People get creative with their floats. We want to give people time to get together and brainstorm ideas. They spend a lot of time creating and decorating their float," Buhmeyer said. "Some people come back every year with a float. We see a lot of entries each year. We reach out to new businesses and new nonprofits each year and ask them to participate. Our goal is to increase our participation each year."

Buhmeyer said many people line the streets of downtown Beloit each year to view the lighted floats.

"As long as the weather is nice and not harsh, we see a lot of people. For some people, it’s a yearly tradition. We see some of the same people every year," Buhmeyer said. "We have glow sticks available for sale, and those are popular with the kids. The downtown is decorated for the holidays. It’s an opportunity for people to get into the holiday spirit."

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be at the Turtle Creek Bookstore following the parade to take photos with children.

The Downtown Beloit Association plans for the parade throughout the year.

"Once the parade has ended, we start talking about next year’s parade," Buhmeyer said. "We throw out ideas for next year and talk about if there’s anything we can tweak."

Hollidazzle, Dec. 4, Beloit

Holiday activities continue in downtown Beloit with Hollidazzle, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. Several businesses will host vendors, crafters and live music.

"Holidazzle is an opportunity to meet the person who is making your Christmas gift," Buhmeyer said. "There’s a lot of unique items and perfect gifts for the holidays. A lot of stores have live music or holiday music."

Buhmeyer said many people attend Holidazzle to do their holiday shopping.

"It’s a great time to be downtown and shop locally," Buhmeyer said. "People can check out all the boutiques and restaurants. A lot of people like to come and support local businesses."

Trolley rides will be offered so people can travel to all the different businesses.

"It helps people get from Point A to Point B without having to walk the entire district with gifts in their hand," Buhmeyer said.

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be returning to Turtle Creek Bookstore to take photos with children, and St. Paul Episcopal Church will host its sweet shop.

"(The church) will have additional vendors," Buhmeyer said. "They also will have some sweet treats for people to check out."

5. Delavan Dance Factory ‘Nutcracker,’ Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 19

Delavan Dance Factory will present "The Nutcracker" on Saturdays, Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, at Lake Lawn Resort, 2400 E. Geneva St. in Delavan.

The dance group will host "The Nutcracker" again at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, at Young Auditorium, located on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus, at 930 W. Main St. For more information, call 262-728-3017.

6. Parade and lighting of the trees, Nov. 28, Roscoe

The Roscoe parade and Lighting of the Trees will be held Saturday, Nov. 28. The parade will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Williams Drive and then travel south to Bridge Street.

The Lighting of the Trees ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. near the corner of Bridge and Main streets. Christmas trees decorated by local businesses and organizations will be lighted as they participate in the annual contest.

Hot dogs, cookies, hot chocolate, games and photos with Santa will be available afterward in the Roscoe Village Hall.

7. Winter Wonderland, Dec. 4, Clinton

Winter Wonderland will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in downtown Clinton. The event will feature a parade with lighted floats and a visit from Santa.

The Clinton Community Historical Society will conduct its old-fashioned Christmas silent auction and quilt raffle during the event next to Two Little Hoots in downtown Clinton.

Bidding for the silent auction will close at 6 p.m. Winners can claim their items after the parade. The quilt raffle will be held at 7 p.m.

8. Victorian Christmas, Dec. 4, Sharon

Holiday enthusiasts can step into the past at the 20th annual Victorian Christmas, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in downtown Sharon.

The event will include a visit from Victorian Santa, a tree-lighting ceremony, horse-drawn carriage rides, Victorian dancers, magic shows, cowboy re-enactors, a chuck wagon food stop, dog-sledding demonstrations and lighted horse-drawn carriage parade.

For more information, call Historic Downtown Sharon at 262-736-6246.

9. Elkhorn Christmas kickoff, Dec. 4-5

Holiday festivities in Elkhorn, also known as the Christmas Card Town, officially begin Friday, Dec. 4. A tree-lighting ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m. in the downtown square. A reception with Santa and Mrs. Claus will be held from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Matheson Memorial Library. The reception will include craft projects and treats.

"It’s a nice thing for the community," said Jenna Gough, executive assistant at the Elkhorn Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Center. "Children can come and have their picture taken with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus."

The holiday excitement continues with the 34th annual parade, set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, in downtown Elkhorn. The parade will feature floats, bands, novelty acts and a return visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

"We have local groups and businesses participating in the parade," Gough said.

"It’s been a tradition for a lot of families," she said. "A lot of people remember going to the parade when they were children. Because it’s the holiday season, it seems to bring everyone together."

10. Jolly Jingle weekend, Dec. 4-6, Janesville

  The city of Janesville will host  Jolly Jingle from Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6. The festivities begin with holiday shopping from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 4, with several downtown businesses hosting activities and offering discounts. Voigt Music Center, 38 S. Main St., will host a holiday concert featuring the Jestin Jay Trio from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The music center also will be offering hot chocolate and treats donated by Lucy Loon’s Coffee and Deli.

A Christmas tree lighting ceremony featuring carolers will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Lower Courthouse Park, 51 S. Main St. Attendees are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for the ECHO food pantry.

The Friday evening activities will conclude with the teen ice skate, which will be held from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the Janesville Ice Arena, 821 Beloit Ave.

Some of the activities scheduled for Dec. 5 include the Christkindl Holiday Market at Voigt Music Center, a vendor holiday market at Olde Towne Mall, Spice on Ice Skate Show at Janesville Ice Arena, Stories with Santa at Hedberg Public Library,  holiday crafts and games at the Janesville Senior Center and live reindeer display at Lower Courthouse Park.

A highlight of the day will be the lighted parade, set for 6 p.m. in downtown Janesville. The parade will begin at the parking lot at West Milwaukee and River streets, proceed east on Milwaukee Street and turn right to Van Buren Street. The parade will feature lighted floats sponsored by local businesses and organizations.

"Last year, we had 20 floats. We hope we have that many or even more this year," said Shelley Slapak, recreation director.

A holiday fireworks display will be held about 6:30 p.m. at the library.

"The fireworks will be shot off with holiday colors," Slapak said. "So there will be a lot of green, red and gold filling the sky."

Saturday activities conclude with Christmas with the Tallmans from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Lincoln-Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St. The historic home will be decked out with Victorian-era Christmas decorations and will feature holiday music, classic Christmas tales, baked treats and apple cider.

Jolly Jingle closes out Dec. 6 with snow tubing at Lower Courthouse Park, a holiday concert at Voigt Music Center and a holiday vendor market at Olde Towne Mall.

For more information, go online to

11. "A Christmas Carol," Dec. 4-6, MIlton

The classic holiday tale is featured at two area locations this season.

In Milton, "A Christmas Carol" will be staged at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 4 through Dec. 6, at the Milton House Museum, 18 S. Janesville St.

The play will progress through different areas of the museum, with the graveyard scene being performed outside. Refreshments will be available after performances.

Seating is limited. For more information or tickets, call 608-868-7772.

In Janesville, Stage One Inc. presents the Charles Dickens classic for seven shows from Thursday, Dec. 3, through Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Janesville Performing Arts Center.

For more information, go online to

12. Christmas Walk, Dec. 4-6, Rockton

The annual Christmas Walk will be held Friday through Sunday, Dec. 4 to Dec. 6, in Rockton. Pictures with Santa will be offered from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 4 at Advia Credit Union, 769 N. Blackhawk Blvd. in Rockton.

Highlighted activities for Dec. 5 include Gingerbread Lane cookie walk and craft sale, Christmas at the Mack House, Talcott Free Library book sale, Candy Cane craft fair, Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the lighted Christmas parade.

Activities for Dec. 6 include the Chocolate for the Talcott Soul, chocolate sampling event and the Talcott Free Library book sale. For more information, go to

13. Lake Geneva electric parade, Dec. 5

Walworth County residents are being asked to sport their red noses to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Great Electric Children’s Christmas Parade, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, in downtown Lake Geneva.

The parade will begin near Williams and Marshall streets, then will travel south on Broad Street, west on Main Street and conclude north on Cook Street. The parade will be led by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer himself.

"We’re encouraging people and their kids to put on their red nose," said Nancy Elder, event manager for the Lake Geneva Chamber of Commerce. "I’m hoping it will be a great opportunity for people to get into the holiday season."

The purpose of the red nose theme is to celebrate diversity, Elder said.

"It’s really about celebrating what makes people different and what makes people special," she said. "It’s about accepting everyone. That’s one of the things I love about the theme."

Complimentary red noses are available at participating businesses, some of which are really getting into the spirit, Elder said.

"There’s a number of businesses taking photos of their staff wearing the red noses and promoting it online and trying to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the parade," Elder said. "A lot of people are excited about it."

Besides the red noses, the parade will feature lighted floats, marching bands, Clydesdale horses, fire trucks and a visit from Santa.

"There’s a variety of schools, businesses and organizations involved with the parade," Elder said.

The chamber of commerce works on the parade throughout the year; however, they get help from the city, the fire department, the police department and local businesses and organizations.

The parade is a popular holiday event each year.

"We have people who come from throughout Walworth County and from surrounding areas," Elder said.

Because a big crowd is expected, parking will not be allowed after 3 p.m. on the west side of Broad Street and the north side of Main Street. Additional parking will be available at Town Bank, 567 Broad St., and BMO Harris Bank, 410 Broad St.

"There will be no parking in those areas to make room for floats, fire trucks and other large vehicles," Elder said.

For more information about the Great Electric Children’s Christmas Parade, go to

14. Christmas in Milton, Dec. 5-6, Milton

Milton will offer a host of holiday-related activities Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 6, including:

• Breakfast with Santa, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Dec. 5, cafeteria, Milton High School, 114 W. High St.

• Nutcracker exhibit, noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 5 and Dec. 6, Milton College Main Hall, 513 College St.

• Santa visit, 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Junction Square, Merchant Row and West Madison Avenue

• Tree lighting ceremony, 5 p.m. Dec. 5, Goodrich Square, Parkview Drive

• Hot Dogs with Santa, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., The Gathering Place, 715 Campus St.

• The Milton Area Chamber of Commerce will host the 13th annual Milton Christmas Walk from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. The walk will feature five area homes decorated for the holidays.

Most of the homes featured on the tour are either historic or have unique holiday decorations, said Terry Mathis Williamson of the Milton Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We completely let people do their own thing (for decorating)," Williamson said. "Last year we had a woman who collected snowmen and every inch of her home was decorated with snowmen."

The Christmas walk attracts about 200 people each year, Williamson said.

"Some people have been coming all 13 years. It’s a family event," she said. "People usually come for one or two reasons. They either want to see the decorations or they want to see the architecture or style of the homes."

The chamber tries to feature different homes each year.

"It’s scary to let 200 people into your home, but I always tell them to talk to people who have done it in the past," Williamson said about house walk participants. "A lot of people will say, ‘It was like a party to have all those people in my house.’ It’s like a reunion. It’s fun to watch."

Milton Christmas Walk tickets can be purchased at Goodrich Hall, Red Rooster and the Milton chamber office before the day of the walk and at the participating homes the day of the event.

"It’s a fundraiser for the chamber, but the biggest purpose is community-related," Williamson said. "Businesses usually have sales that weekend. It’s a great way to get people into Milton and to show what we have to offer. It’s a lot of fun."

For more information, call 608-868-6222.

15. Live Nativity, Dec. 19-20, Janesville

Cargill United Methodist Church, 2000 Wesley Ave. in Janesville, will host its annual live Nativity scene from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19 and Dec. 20.

The drive-through Nativity scene will feature a complete stable with performers and live animals. Attendees are asked to enter through the parking lot from Harmony Drive.

For more information, call 608-752-0548.



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