ALGONQUIN – Roughly 300 Algonquin residents gathered near the Fox River on Saturday and excitedly greeted the arrival of Santa, who kick-started the holiday season by lighting a 20-foot tree in Riverfront Park.
The village’s annual Holiday Rock on the Fox entertained children and families during the evening with games, activities and, of course, hot chocolate.
Santa was greeted with cheers after arriving on a firetruck with sirens blaring and lights flashing.
He helped Village President John Schmitt light the tree in front of the gazebo in the park off Harrison Street.
“This is one of those special things that I think is really neat in this village,” Schmitt said. “It’s low key, but it’s just fun.”
The tree speckled with Christmas ornaments and green, red and blue lights served as the centerpiece for the event. Around it, people could meet with the event’s various sponsors, including Gordmans, JCP Portraits and Gourmet Kernel.
The numerous children in attendance got to meet and take pictures with Santa and read stories with Jingle the Elf, which was sponsored by the Algonquin library. Kids from Tiger Koo’s Martial Arts also performed a demonstration for the crowd.
Attendees also competed in a candy cane hunt and watched a sculptor transform blocks of ice into a penguin and polar bear.
Residents earlier in the week voted through Facebook on how to sculpt the ice, and they also had the chance to win $300 worth of merchandise from a promotional event put on by Algonquin’s downtown businesses.
Extending into this week, residents who picked up a game card Saturday can visit each downtown business, collect a sticker, and then enter into the merchandise drawing.
Residents also could have dropped off old and used toys during the holiday kickoff event. The village was collecting the donations and sending them to Toys for Tots.