JOLIET, Ill. — One of the area’s favorite holiday traditions, the Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade, will kick off the holiday season on Friday, Nov. 23.
For the eighth consecutive year, the University of St. Francis (USF) will sponsor the parade, which annually takes place the day after Thanksgiving and is now in its 15th year. This celebration brings more than 25,000 people to Joliet’s City Center to watch area bands and to support businesses and organizations as they travel down historic Chicago Street in the parade. USF’s mascot, Bernie the St. Bernard, will be this year’s grand marshall.
The parade steps off at 5:30 p.m. immediately following the 5:15 p.m. tree lighting in Van Buren Plaza. Mayor Tom Giarrante and representatives of the Joliet city council and USF will be on hand to light the city’s Christmas tree.
There also will be a variety of family-friendly events throughout the day. The annual Festival of Trees at the Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet, will be open to the public on parade day from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. General admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and children under 12. Children under two are free. Earlier in the the day, the theatre will host a Teddy Bear Tea at 9:30 a.m. and noon, and will screen the movie “Happy Feet II” at 3 p.m. and “Polar Express” later at 7 p.m. For more information, admissions costs or reservations, call the theatre at (815) 726-6600.
For more information on the Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade, call (877)4-JOLIET or visit www.jolietdowntown.com or www.visitjoliet.org.