Festivals in Crystal Lake, Woodstock kick off holiday season

Crowds gather for annual parade, lighting ceremony

With people on floats waving and saying Merry Christmas, Dave Amin of Algonquin watched the holiday parade in Crystal Lake with his girlfriend, Tiffany Hafferkamp, and 3-year-old son, Chase Amin.

“Chase, look at the dancing baseball,” Dave Amin said during the parade.

They were some of the many people who came to the annual Festival of Lights Parade.

The event, organized by the Downtown Crystal Lake organization, helped kick off the holiday season.

Woodstock also on Friday held its annual Christmas kickoff with a lighting ceremony in the square. Tens of thousands of lights on the park trees and square buildings were illuminated on Friday night.

Prior to the 17th annual Festival of Lights Parade, hundreds of people, some in Santa hats, lined downtown Crystal Lake, some saving their spots about an hour before the parade, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive in a horse-drawn sleigh.

Families were taking pictures, people were bundled up, and many parade-goers were drinking hot chocolate to keep warm. To get a good view, small children sat on their parents’ shoulders.

Some of the parade entrants had glowing balloons. The Chick-fil-A float had someone dressed in a cow costume wearing a Santa outfit, and one float had a large gingerbread house. At the end of the parade, the town’s tree was lit up along Crystal Lake Avenue.

The Crystal Lake holiday parade, however, was delayed for about 15 minutes after an 8-year-old was accidentally struck by one of the floats toward the end of the parade of the roughly 50 floats.

The boy was on the flatbed of a Boy Scouts of America group float when he tried to get off to distribute candy. He became entangled in a wheel, fell to the street and the wheel rolled over the lower portion of his body, police said.

The youngster was taken to Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said. Citations are not anticipated in the incident.

Will and Patty Passapera of Crystal Lake came with their daughter, Rachel, to the Festival of Lights Parade. They watched their other daughter, Hannah, who was performing as part of the Lundahl Middle School band.

They came after spending the afternoon putting up their lights and Christmas tree.

“This is a neat way to kick off the Christmas season,” Patty Passapera said.

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