Christmas and it’s a wonderful life in Lake Bluff, IL (2011)

January 5, 2012

There was no question that I would once again attend “It’s a Wonderful Life…in Lake Bluff!” when the announcement arrived in my mailbox.

Even rain couldn’t daunt the spirits of those who arrived at 10 a.m. that December day to check out Lake Bluff’s businesses with their very attractive, decked-out windows which seemed to extend an invitation to “stop in and check me out” to all who passed by.

Other events to be enjoyed by early arrivers included an art show and sale at the Lake Bluff train station, and, for younger folk, visiting the Lake Bluff Library to view the Holiday Snow Village at the lower level of the LB Library or dropping in for a session of story-telling and craft-making with the Library Elf.

One event, the always popular horse-drawn carriage rides, had a constant stream of young patrons. Despite the somewhat steady but light rain that marked the day until mid-afternoon, all were eager to board the carriage and be taken on a ride around the block pulled by faithful horse Bozo and guided by carriage driver Val.

But even the anticipation of taking a carriage ride failed to create the joy and the sparkle that could be seen in the eyes of the children when they saw Santa and Elvie, arriving on the dot of 12 noon, bid a polite “good by” by thanking the firemen who had given them a ride to the Lake Bluff History Museum.

As Santa walked with Elvie to his “listening chair” inside the Lake Bluff History Museum, he stopped along the way to say “hello” to all the good boys and girls who would soon have the chance to reveal their Christmas secrets to him.

And listen Santa did, as a steady stream of excited boys and girls let Santa know what he should tuck into his sleigh for them when leaving his home in the North Pole on Christmas Eve for his trip to visit boys and girls all over the world.

In the afternoon there was music to enjoy as the Lake Forest High School Madrigal Singers, under the direction of chorus director Tim Haskett, sang both inside and outside of businesses. I was informed that the Madrigal singers includes boys from grades 10th through 12th and and junior and senior girls.

A concert by this fine group of singers in the Lake Bluff Library featured “Ding, Dong Merrily on High”, “Carol of the Bells”, and “What Child Is This”, remarkable in that all three selections were chorus favorites when I attended high school back in the 1950’s. Following these time-tested favorites, a more “modern” selection, “Winter Cheer,” was performed by the Madrigals.

It was during the caroling by members of Girl Scout troops 456 and 41710 that the sun finally broke through to the delight of all. Even so, the inclement weather never did cast a shadow over a day that was to be enjoyed in keeping with the spirit of the season, although just a sprinkle of snow would have added even more sparkle to an already festive day.

The Buckthorns, always a favorite, choose the warmth of Inovasi’s restaurant to perform Christmas favorites a capella. June Miller is director of The Buckthorns known for its cappella singing (unaccompanied) from rock to folk, country to doo wop, Broadway to gospel, and contemporary to classical. The proprietor of Viola in Lake Bluff, Suzie McMurray, is a member of The Buckthorns and was featured in a lovely rendition of “Mary Had a Baby.”

From noon to 5 p.m., Inovasi was a favorite stopping and resting spot as complimentary hot chocolate and coffee were served by Abby Reeves and Elkin Chahin.

As Lake Bluff holiday revelers hurried from one scheduled event to another, they also paused to watch and the sample the chestnuts Albert Vgolini was roasting in a large black skillet on the sidewalk in front of Peg Ann Kompany. The chestnut roasting exhibition was sponsored by the LF/LB Chamber of Commerce.

Hearing a passerby talk about two reindeer standing by Lake Bluff’s War Memorial spurred me into action to check out the claim. How could two reindeer be here in Lake Bluff? Wasn’t Santa soon in need of them to pull his sleigh?

Next to visiting Santa, seeing the reindeer was a must-do activity for children who were allowed to stroke eight-year old Colarice and one-year old Vixon. It seemed to me that the gentle reindeer were resting up in anticipation of their long and exhausting trip on Christmas Eve, so docile were they as children tentatively approached Colarice and Vixon to say “hello.”

One of the elf handlers, who went by the name of “Sparkles,” informed the boys and girls that Colarice and Vixon came from the North Pole. They were brought from the North Pole by Santa to the Summerfield Farm and Zoo in Belvidere, Ill., so they could visit along with Santa when he came to see all the children here in Lake Bluff.

It was finally time for the Gazebo lighting ceremony to begin. Also busy at this time of year, Santa found time to stop by the Village Green with his heavy pack slung over his shoulder. Before Santa started his long journey back home to the North Pole, he climbed the stairs to the platform of the gazebo to behold the lighting of the gazebo, which brought forth a brilliant and awe-inspiring festive sight made even more memorable by the total darkness that had engulfed the Village Green.

Santa then joined in with his “ho, ho” voice with those of the Lake Forest High School Madrigal and Chorister singers in a sing-along led by Lake Forest High School Choral Director, Tim Haskett.




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