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Start the holidays off right with these local festivities

Cities, malls and other venues hosting lots of festivities this weekend

Worried about that bloated feeling after Thanksgiving Dinner?

The Thanksgiving weekend offers lots of opportunities to get off the couch and get out and about.

The most obvious option is to head for the stores, an exercise that can immediately follow Thanksgiving dinner because many retailers begin opening their doors in the late afternoon. Mall walkers can get into the Louis Joliet Mall at 6 p.m. Thursday and keep walking and shopping until 11 p.m.

Friday is a popular day for people who like to cut down their own Christmas trees.

“Usually, Friday is the busiest day of the season,” said Bruce Tammen at Tammen Treeberry Farm in Wilmington.

Or, go to the Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade that offers daylong activities Friday throughout downtown Joliet until the lighting of the city Christmas tree at 5:15 p.m. and the parade that follows.

Some new features at the event this year include a holiday magic show at the Joliet Public Library and a Black Friday vinyl record sale at Audiophil’s Records.

“The magic show features a magic elf, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and holiday tricks,” said Lauren Las, Joliet City Center Partnership’s marketing director. It’s followed by a reindeer meet-and-greet by the library.

Other activities include a free day at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, which hosts a holiday dance party with “Frozen” princesses Elsa and Anna at 2 p.m.

If you miss the chance to meet reindeer Friday in downtown Joliet, you can find some Saturday in Crest Hill when the city holds its Winter Festival from 4 to 7 p.m. outside City Hall at 1610 Plainfield Road.

Besides reindeer, there will be pony rides, horse rides and hayrack rides up and down Knapp Drive.

“Our Winter Fest is a fun-filled family event that brings the community together and kicks off the holiday season,” Mayor Ray Soliman said.

Plainfield holds its Heart of Christmas from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, when the village combines a community festival with Small Business Saturday.

“Many of the downtown businesses have specials,” said Vitella Barnes, executive assistant with the Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

Face-painting, photos with Santa and other activities culminate with a Christmas tree lighting in Village Green Park in which the Grinch and Santa come together for the festivities.

The Rialto Square Theatre, decorated for the season, has started its Home for the Holidays celebration, which will include a showing of the movie “The Polar Express” at 2 p.m. Saturday and two performances of Chicago Festival Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” at
1 and 5 p.m. Sunday.

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