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Downers Grove

Tree lighting to kick off holiday season in Downers Grove Friday

DOWNERS GROVE – Mayor Martin Tully will flip the switch and light the holiday tree about 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Downers Grove Main Street Depot, continuing a tradition that goes back as far as most residents can remember.

The tree will be strung with lights and more than 1,100 ornaments made by local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other children. Children are invited to arrive early for free cider and cookies in the depot, and stay to sing after the tree lighting.

“My favorite part is when they do the countdown and the tree lights up,” said the event’s organizer, Downers Grove Emergency Management Coordinator Mary Pratt. “Because I like to watch the little kids, their eyes get so big and bright. I think it’s just so adorable.”

As for the 35-foot spruce tree now planted in the depot fountain, a few weeks ago it stood in Mike and Bridgid Lutz’s front yard near Hummer Park, overgrowing its space.

“It had just grown so much since we’ve owned the house,” Bridgid Lutz said. “We’ve owned the house for seven years. It was just too big for the space it was in, and a friend of ours suggested we call the village to see if they could use it.

“I’ve been so excited about that, it’s just a really neat way to use it for just one more thing.”

She said their two sons are excited to see their former front-yard fixture now standing proudly downtown.

“We’ve actually been by it a couple times to see it already,” she said. “It’s also really fun because the tree lighting is something we do as a family every year, any way. So to get to go and see it, and have it be our tree, is really fun.”

The tree lighting also kicks off the Downtown Downers Grove Gingerbread Festival that runs through Sunday.

The festival features a variety of themed activities including the “Gingerbread Man Hunt,” visits with

Santa in his Gingerbread House, complimentary carriage rides and the Gingerbread House Competition. Proceeds from the competition will help fund homeownership opportunities for limited income families in need of a safe, decent place to live.

The village is also offering a holiday photo booth for the first time this year at the tree lighting event.

“People will be able to come with their friends and family and pose for a photo with some holiday props that we’re going to have,” Downers Grove Spokesman Doug Kozlowski said. “They can take the photo against a holiday backdrop, and the photos will be posted to the village Facebook page. People can download those and have them as keepsakes.”

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