Lake Bluff Promotes its Christmas Event as a Day-Long “A Wonderful Life” Celebration

December 7, 2010

A perfect finish to a perfect day as Lake Bluff's Gazebo takes on a festive look 
The first snowfall of the season greeted Lake Bluff’s second annual day-long holiday event held on Saturday, December 4th, but rather than daunting the spirits of those who participated, the occasional snow fall only made the event more festive as the winter whiteness added to the spirit of the occasion.

Because of what had become a measurable early morning snow fall, it took time for the Village of Lake Buff, and out-of-towners, to wake up and be coaxed out of their cozy homes in time to be on hand in large numbers for some of the earlier events sponsored by Lake Bluff’s merchants who opened their shops at 10:00 a.m. for holiday shopping and remained open until 6:00 p.m.

Not wanting to miss out on any of the scheduled events, I was one of the early arrivals only to find there was little activity taking place in the village. Although the temperature was quite comfortable outside if dressed appropriately for the day, observing the attractively-dressed windows filled with holiday gifts, I entered Peg Ann Kompany where I lingered to admire the offerings of two trunk shows featuring jewelry displays by Julie Trotter Clark, know as JT Clark Designs, and Kathy Horton.

Julie Clark is known for her Energy Diamonds throughout the country. “And just what are Energy Diamonds?” I asked of Julie. As Julia explained to me, “Each and every one of the little gems used in making my jewelry is unique and special. They are natural from the earth and one of a kind pure natural diamond quartz.”

I found Kathy Horton’s jewelry equally as attractive. Her specialty is silk knot and fresh water pearl jewelry. Peg Kronau, owner and proprietor of Peg Ann and Kompany along with husband Kurt, informed me that both local gals can be reached by calling Peg Ann Kompany at (847) 234-1413.

Not ready yet to venture outside, I asked Peg how the name of Lake Bluff’s holiday event came about? – “It’s a Wonderful Life” . . . in Lake Bluff.” According to Peg Gronau, “We were brainstorming at a chamber meeting trying to come up with something to bring people into the village, and we came up with “A Wonderful Life” because Lake Bluff is reminiscent of Bedford Falls in the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Peg also informed me that planning for this year’s event started right after Halloween.

Outside again, I decided to visit Santa at the Vliet Museum. Not only did Santa greet me, but I also got to meet Mrs. Santa Claus and a few of his dedicated and industrious elves. Confessing to Santa that I couldn’t wait for him to bring me a combination printer/scanner and went ahead and purchased it on my own, Santa seemed somewhat amused by my impatience.

Another attraction especially enjoyed by very young children besides a visit to Santa were the horse-drawn carriage rides, courtesy of the Lake Forest Bank & Trust. The lines were long throughout the time of the scheduled carriage rides from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but those who patiently waited for their turn were helped into the white-covered carriage by Cody the doorman and then carried around the block with horse man Greg at the helm. Horse Tait didn’t seem to mind his many trips around the block pulling his excited and delighted cargo of carriage passengers old and young alike.

Caroling was featured throughout the afternoon. Observing activity at Lake Bluff’s Gazebo on its Village Square I trudged through the snow to the Gazebo to find that the Choral Director at LFHS, Tim Haskett, was using the Gazebo as the gathering place for his two choral groups, the Bel Canto Singers and the Madrigal Singers, to meet and warm up vocally before crossing the Village Green to spread their holiday joy in song.

Like many, I was unaware of the difference between the Bel Canto Singers and the Madrigal Singers. It was explained to me that the Bel Canto Singers is open only to 9th and 10th grade girls, while the Madrigal Singers accepts 11th and 12th grade girls and boys from 9th through 12th grades.

In speaking with Tim Haskett, with pride Tim told me about the many concerts his Madrigal Singers perform during the Christmas season — between 20 and 25 — and how the final concert is always scheduled for Westmoreland. While at Westmoreland two to three Hospice patients are visited in their rooms, a practice that has become of importance to Tim since his mother died of Alzheimer after many years of being afflicted with the condition.

I also had time to drop in on The Buckthorns, under the capable direction of June Miller, which was stationed in the entry area of Lake Bluff’s Inovasi restaurant. Their musical offerings ranged from sacred to holiday music. The real surprise came after The Buckthorns singing of an unusual and pleasing arrangement of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Traditionally the end of a caroling session, The Buckthorns went on to sing one of their favorites, “Route 66.” “Why Route 66,” I inquired? and was told that Santa has to get to Lake Bluff some way and Route 66 was the route for Santa to travel. This excellent vocal group is eager to perform for special occasions and events. Check out

The magic hour of 5:00 p.m was fast approaching and with it the 2nd Annual Gazebo Lighting Celebration. But still to be accomplished on my must-do list of featured Lake Bluff holiday events was a visit to The Clockworks on Center Avenue to hear harpist Janelle Jansen Lake perform, an accomplished harpist who has her Masters Degree of Music from Northwestern University. Always eager to perform for special occasions, Ms. Lake can be contacted at

Entering The Clockworks, I found that the 6th Annual Wrist Watch Trunk Show was in progress. David Lee, Master Clocksmith and owner, informed me that “although today’s event was the first Annual Trunk Show to be held in his new Lake Bluff home (Clockworks moved from Lake Forest to Lake Bluff in January of 2010 after 38 years in Lake Forest.), he is happy to be able to celebrate all of the many outstanding events held in Lake Bluff.”

By now it was approaching 5:00 p.m, the scheduled time for the Gazebo Lighting Celebration to begin. Crossing Center Avenue to reach the Gazebo, I joined the now sizable crowd that had gathered in anticipation of seeing the Gazebo, adorned inside with a Christmas tree, lit up to usher in the Christmas season.

The magic hour had finally come and expressions of pleasure were heard as the darkness was punctuated by hundreds of dazzling lights provided by Kinnucan Co. Lake Bluff Middle School carolers were on hand to provide holiday music, providing a perfect finish to Lake Bluff’s memorable Second Annual Holiday Event.

Free refreshments were offered throughout the day and were appreciated by all, not only the cold and the weary. Bluffington’s was the place to visit for hot cider; hot chocolate was served at Inovasi; and hot beverages and cookies were on hand at the Noodle Bar.

Lake Bluff’s holiday event was sponsored by Clockworks, Kinnucan Co., Lake Forest Bank & Trust, Noodle Bar, Peg Ann Kompany, Salon Kallisto, Twigs, Vliet Center, Lake Bluff Library, Voila, Village of Lake Bluff, and LF/LB Chamber of Commerce.

I’m already anticipating next year’s Third Annual Holiday Event in Lake Bluff, a village that can rightly claim the title of the “North Pole of the North Shore.”



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