While Santa is figuring who's been naughty and nice, the people of Harrisburg and Eldorado are preparing to usher in the season starting this weekend.
Those ready for the Christmas spirit have bake sales, craft vendors, singing, a parade, police taking the kids shopping, an old-fashioned blessing by oil lamp, a parade of lights in store and numerous opportunities for cookies, hot chocolate and hot cider.
HEA Vendors and Craft Show
At 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 the Vendors and Craft Show will be presented by the Homemakers Education Association at the Harris-Pruett Building, 107 E. Church Street, Harrisburg. Crafters and bakers will be selling their wares and buyers may find some unique Christmas gifts.
Christmas Tree Festival and Holiday Market
In Eldorado’s Old City Hall Museum at 10 a.m. Saturday Eldorado Main Street presents a Christmas Tree Festival and Holiday Market running until 2 p.m.
Visit the many decorated Christmas trees and have lunch for only $5. It will be held in the Old City Hall, 1604 Locust St., Eldorado. Purchase holiday goodies at the bake sale, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and shop for unique gifts at the Museum Holiday Market until 4 p.m.
Local artisans and business owners bring primitives, crafts, florals — including the ever-popular Eldorado FFA poinsettias, hair bows, purses, baked goods and more.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be greeting children for Christmas photos.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 is the Christmas Cantata of the Eldorado Community Choir with participants from several Eldorado churches at First Christian Church, 1124 Walnut St.
This year’s performance is entitled “Heaven’s Child” and consists of 11 songs.
“It’s a celebration of the birth of Christ,” director David Phelps said.
“There are contemporary arrangement’s encompassing some of the older songs.”
For instance, one song combines “Oh, Holy Night” — an old carol — with “Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him” — a more modern song.
“Silent, Holy Night” is a more modern take on the traditional “Silent Night.”
The choir of about 40 voices has been rehearsing each Tuesday since Labor Day with the exception of Election Day.
Children — most of whom are Phelps’ grandchildren — lend their voices to a few of the songs.
Phelps chose the program based on the accessibility of the songs.
“If you can go around your home humming the tune, it sticks with you. In the songwriter’s vernacular its a hook,” Phelps said.
He hopes the audience will be humming the songs for days following the performance.
Harrisburg Home for the Holidays
Blessing of the County
At 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 in Harrisburg there will be a service to bless the county in the old Cain Church on the grounds of the Saline Creek Pioneer Village and Museum, 1600 Feazel St., Harrisburg. The church will be lit with oil burning lamps from the 1800s.
There will be a prayer asking blessings upon the county and typically the singing of a few traditional holiday hymns.
Following the service hot chocolate, coffee and cookies will be offered will be offered in the Aydelott Cabin where there is traditionally a roaring fire in the fireplace.
The yard of the Saline Creek Pioneer Village and Museum will be strewn with lights and candy cane posts directing visitors.
Mayor’s Tree Lighting
At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4 Mayor Eric Gregg will light the Christmas tree at the Pioneer Village.
Cookies, cider, hot chocolate and coffee will be served. Santa will make an appearance and give out candy canes for the children. Wabash Area Development Incorporated will give out toys to the children.
As of Tuesday there were loose ends yet to be tied up. Saline County HEA has pledged to provide hot cider, Linda Sasser of Harrisburg City Hall said.
“We have invited everybody who was there last year,” Sasser said.
That will likely include carolers from churches and possibly civic groups.
An alternate date of Dec. 7 is set in case of inclement weather.
Holiday Lights Parade
The Holiday Lights Parade of the Town and Country Lions and Harrisburg Fire Department is 6 p.m. Dec. 13.
Santa is sure to be a part of the parade, even though the sleigh Harrisburg provided him will be unable to participate. It fell victim to the Feb. 28 tornado, crushed in the building it was stored inside on Bauman Street.
“He’ll be here one way or another,” Chief Bill Summers said.
Harrisburg Firefighters Tuesday were a bit secretive as to Santa’s mode of transportation, saying only that Santa would likely be riding on “a piece of fire equipment,” Captain Donnie Wall said.
Pee Wee Horning will be the grand marshal.
Town and Country Lion Shirley Cain said past parade participants have been mailing their filled out parade forms back to the Lions, but they should keep them. The forms are for participants to hand off at the judge’s stand for the announcer’s benefit.
The South Main Street parade route decorating contest will happen with prize money for the top three entries. There is no need for prior arrangements — anyone with lights on during and following the parade is considered an entrant.
There is also no need for prior arrangements to enter the parade. Anyone who shows up at the fire department prior to the parade can receive an entry form there.
Shop With a Cop
Donations for the annual Harrisburg FOP 152 Shop With a Cop are down this year, in part because the solicitation letters were sent out late and some may not have reached the mailboxes of the most recent past donors, Harrisburg Police Officer Nathan Moore said.
But Harrisburg Police and other area law enforcement will be shopping for kids Saturday Dec. 8 at Harrisburg Walmart.
“We started a little late. We’re a little behind right now. We are hoping next week it will be starting to pick up,” Moore said.
The event will begin at 7 a.m. at the Harrisburg Town and Country Lions Club on South Main Street for breakfast and breakfast will run until 10 a.m.
For Harrisburg and Galatia kids the shopping starts at 8 a.m. and for Eldorado and Carrier Mills kids it begins at 10 a.m.
The FOP shopped for about 300 kids last year. The majority come recommended by schools and their siblings also get to shop.
Usually 30 or 40 volunteers participate and include the Saline County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Police, Secretary of State Police and usually retired officers return to help out.
Those wanting to make a contribution may sent a check to Harrisburg FOP or Shop With a Cop at P.O. Box 152, Harrisburg, Illinois 62946.