The tree is installed in Fountain Square, the lights have been strung and the holiday wreaths hung around downtown Evanston.
Now it’s time for the official start of the holiday season Friday, Nov. 16, when Santa, Mrs. Claus and Mayor Tisdahl ride in on a fire truck to kick off the festivities with the traditional tree lighting. This year, however, there’s a little something different—the Evanston Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a free trolley ride to take shoppers to businesses around downtown Evanston for sales, some freebies and holiday drinks as part of its first ever Holiday Bash.
“It’s really a way to bring out the community to share in the downtown, whatever holiday it is you may be celebrating,” says Downtown Evanston Executive Director Carolyn Dellutri.
Dellutri said her group talked to Mayor Tisdahl last year, asking whether they could change the festivities a little bit.
“She said as long as the kids get to see Santa, and there’s hot chocolate, she was OK with it,” Dellutri said.
Santa, Mrs. Claus and Mayor Tisdahl arrive by fire truck at the tree in Fountain Square at 5:30 p.m. Revelers can sing along to holiday carols with the Music Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University’s Dance Marathon team before the mayor flips the switch to light the tree.
Following the tree lighting, kids can visit with Santa from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at 1612 Sherman Ave.; Mrs. Claus will be available before and after the tree lighting at Bravo! Cucina Italiana, 1701 Maple Ave.
The complimentary trolley will run from 4 to 9 p.m., making stops at Maple Avenue and Clark Street, Maple Avenue and Church Street, Church Street and Orrington Avenue, Chicago Avenue and Davis Street, Grove Street and Sherman Avenue, Davis Street and Oak Avenue, and Benson Avenue and Church Street. Among the highlights are $5 egg nog at Tommy Nevin’s, a free kids ornament and decorating party at Buffalo Wild Wings, complimentary chair and hand massages at Aveda, face painting at Kooky Kidstuff, complimentary soup and face-painting for kids at Pret A Manger, free sugar cookies at Potbelly and face-painting at J. Antou Salon.
Hilda’s Place and Connections for the Homeless will be collecting gently used or new warm clothing essentials such as coats, socks, long underwear, gloves and hats from 4 to 9 p.m. at 1612 Sherman Ave.
Musicians and performing arts groups will also be performing at various businesses around Evanston during the Holiday Bash. Here’s a list of times and places:
- Guitarist Gene Lim, 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Uncle Dan’s, 901 Church St.
- Live jazz and blues by Earnest Nellis, 4-5 p.m. at Gather and 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Unicorn Café, 1723 Sherman Ave.
- Evanston Dance Ensemble, 6:30 and 7:15 p.m. at 1612 Sherman Ave.
- Live music by Nia Quintet, 8 p.m. at Pete Miller’s, 1557 Sherman Ave.
- Music Institute of Chicago Suzuki Flute Students, 4:45 p.m. at Koi, 624 Davis St.
- Music Institute of Chicago’s Suzuki String Quartet performs with Michele George, 6 – 7 p.m. at Koi, 624 Davis St.
- Nick Zhou on piano, 7 p.m. at Koi, 624 Davis St.
- Jazz standards and holiday carols by Joey Conway and Katy Taylor, 7:30 p.m. at Koi, 624 Davis St.
- Cast and team of Waa-Mu 2013 show Flying Home perform holiday carols, 4 p.m. at Margarita European Inn, 1566 Oak Ave., and 4:45 p.m. at Ten 27 Cycles, 1027 Davis St.
- Sneak peek of Oliver! by Light Opera Works, 4 - 5:30 p.m. at Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.
- Music Institute of Chicago Voice Faculty and Students, 7 – 9 p.m. at Hilton Orrington/Evanston Hotel, 1710 Orrington Ave.
- Cast of Piccolo Theatre’s production Bah Humbug! perform a musical number from the show, 4 p.m. at Talia Boutique, 1526 Chicago Ave.
The city of Evanston will offer free parking all day in its three public parking garages at Sherman Plaza (821 Davis St.), Maple Ave. (1800 Maple Ave.) and Church St. (525 Church St.).