"Communities across east central Illinois are gearing up for the holiday season.
Work has begun on Champaign's Christmas tree. The tree will be lit at the Parade of Lights on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 6 p.m.
"We turned it in to make sure it's kind of the kickoff to the holiday season, and the response has been great. The crowds were tremendous last year, even with the rain, and so we're looking for another great showing this year," said TJ Blakeman, executive director of Champaign City Partnership,
Blakeman said First Street is the next part of the city to be officially decorated.
"We're putting lights on the light poles this Saturday from 11 to 3 o'clock," he said. "We're looking for volunteers to come out and help with that."
Volunteers can help put up lights in Champaign at 34 Main Street, on the corner of Walnut and Main. Also, next Saturday, Nov. 24 marks the first day of Shop Local Saturday, a day of promotions in Champaign small businesses every Saturday until Christmas.
Meanwhile, Danville is kicking off the holiday season on Thursday, Nov. 14 with its annual "Night of Lights" holiday parade. Festivities kick off with a chili dinner at 3 p.m., followed by live music and family reading night on the lawn of the Danville Public Library.
"It's actually pretty amazing how many people will come down for the parade because it's usually pretty cold, and they'll be sitting in their cars lined along the parade route, as well as lined along the sidewalks, down all the way through downtown with all the kids bundled up," said Dana Schaumburg, the executive director of Downtown Danville Inc. "It's just a fun, frosty atmosphere."
There will also be a Christmas Parade in Decatur this Saturday, Nov. 17, at 5:30 p.m., and in Rantoul on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m.
Urbana's Lincoln Square Mall is hosting a holiday market of local vendors every Saturday through Dec. 15.