Parade of Lights puts Naperville in holiday mood
By David Sharos For The Sun December 1, 2012 7:22PM
Santa and Mrs Claus wave to people lining the streets to see the Little Friends Parade of Lights Saturday in downtown Naperville. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Nominate holiday lights
The Naperville Sun is seeking nominations of the brightest and most festive homes to include in our annual holiday lights pullout map. We want to know who has decked the halls, trees, shrubs and everywhere else for that matter. Let us know about homes that deserve a holiday drive-by. Make sure to include the homeowner’s name, address and contact information, if you have it. More importantly, tell us why you think it’s special. Email nominations to community news editor Heather Pfundstein at email@example.com. Look for the map in The Sun the second Sunday in December.
Updated: January 3, 2013 11:00AM
It’s funny how problems with an iPhone can lead to a family discovering a new holiday tradition.
Phone problems are what brought Erick Cerda, of Bolingbrook, and his daughters Sophia, 7, and Isabella, 4, to Naperville Saturday afternoon.
“My wife has been having problems with her phone and wanted to go to the Apple store,” Cerda said. “We just moved to Bolingbrook from the city in the past year, and when we came to Naperville today, we heard about the parade.”
Saturday night, downtown Naperville officially came alive for the Christmas season as the annual Little Friends Holiday Parade of Lights was held, beginning at dusk. This year’s parade was launched at Water Street, before moving north on Main Street, west on Van Buren and ending at Eagle Street, near Naper School.
Visitors enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather and got an early start on the festivities as free trolley rides were offered between 1 and 4 p.m. downtown, which allowed riders to get on and off at one of six locations. Veteran trolley driver Harry Saunders of Aurora said this was the seventh year he worked as a driver.
“When it rains or there is snow, it really can affect the lights here at times and things can short out,” Saunders said. “For me, this sort of jump starts the holiday seeing kids getting on and off the trolley and also being in the parade. It’s not really the holidays for me until I’m back here doing this.”
Area high school musicians got the crowd into the holiday spirit by performing holiday music at the parade’s main stage located at Main and Van Buren. Kids later got their first chance to talk with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who appeared from 5:45 until 8 p.m.at the Santa House at Jackson and Webster near the Riverwalk.
Brain Bollinger and Marie Spears said they each grew up in Naperville and graduated from Naperville Central High School. Both said they were celebrating the five-year anniversary of the day they decided to become a couple and each had fond memories of Christmas events here in town.
“I know that Santa will be there again along the Riverwalk, and I remember going to see him when I was growing up,” Bollinger said. “I grew up in a big family with five kids, and coming down each year to see the lights like this was always fun.”
“I remember some great times at the sled hill and just think that the parade and the tradition here is great for the community,” Spears said.
Like Cerda, Maryann Messina, also of Bolingbrook, admitted this was her first time watching the parade. She said the warm weather enticed her to come and bring her 13-year-old daughter Julia along.
“This is a much better way to welcome in the holidays than having to go downtown,” Messina said. “We put up our tree right after Thanksgiving to kind of get the holiday going, and this is a good way to continue being in the spirit.”
Julia Cerda said she has played the clarinet for the past three years and was looking forward to watching the high school musicians play.
“I also like looking at the floats in addition to watching the old kids perform which I plan to do in a few years,” she said.
Little Sophia Cerda admitted she “didn’t like parades unless she was in them” but there was no stopping Naperville’s Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshop, who once again reprised her role as Curious George in this year’s parade. Anderson admitted she wished “it was a little colder” due to the weight of her costume, but she said that appearing as Curious George in the parade “never gets old.”
“I’ve probably done this maybe 30 times here in Naperville at various events, and the hugs and the high fives and fist bumps you get are just so much fun,” Anderson said. “The thing is – for the kids, this is one of their favorite characters and they really believe you are Curious George. You can’t see it, but I’m telling you there is a face smiling underneath this costume the whole time.”