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When I listen to my favorite carols of the season, which, despite the current trend, does not happen until after Thanksgiving, I am always the most nostalgic when I hear the strains of “Silver Bells.”  “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style…in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.” Those opening lyrics take me back to my childhood, when it was my family’s tradition to bundle up and take to our seats in the Country Squire Station Wagon, to, as my father would say, “Go look at the lights.”

For us, that meant traveling from our suburban home on the south side of Chicago into the Windy City. Our destination?  State and Washington Streets, home of Marshall Field and Company and their magnificent animated windows. I can’t remember now if we ever even noticed the cold, or the long lines or the crowds. But I can say with confidence that we all noticed the magic, and that we all still believe.

Now, far too many years later, I love that our city’s center strives to recapture that magic for this community. This year the DBA, along with Bloomington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts is thrilled to be bringing back the tradition of lighting a community tree – the giant evergreen at Wither’s Park – which we’ll do to kick off our Once Upon a Holiday weekend, December 5 & 6. Carolers will provide a festive backdrop for Mayor Tari Renner when he officially lights up the park at 5:30 pm on Friday December 5. Carolers will then guide people with song into the downtown, where the merchants await to delight you with their LIVE Window Vignettes, our own nostalgic nod to Marshall Field, as well as shopping specials and dedicated, personal customer service that sets our small business owners apart.

On Saturday, December 6, the Jaycees Holiday parade makes its way downtown, which is a great lead-in to the McLean County Museum of History’s annual celebration, “Christmas at the Courthouse.” Talented local community groups will be at the Museum from 11-4 filling the historic rotunda with song, merriment and lots of delightful baked goods! Looking for that one-of-a-kind gift? Downtown Bloomington is home to more than 20 local artists-in-residence who invite you to give the gift of art, for any occasion!


Downtown Holidays at a glance:

Now through January 2 – McLean County Arts Center Holiday Treasures Show and Sale November 22   Indoor Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market  – US Cellular Coliseum November 22 – Illinois Symphony Holiday Pops Concert – Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts December 4 – A Kenny Rogers Christmas  – US Cellular Coliseum December 4 – City of Bloomington Holiday Concert –  Miller Park Pavilion December 5 & 6 – Once Upon a Holiday Weekend – Downtown                             Dec. 5 – Tree Lighting/ Carolers/ Live Windows/Carriage Rides                             Dec. 6 – Holiday Parade/ Christmas at the Courthouse December 5-7 –   The Pantagraph’s Holiday Spectacular Variety show – At the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts  (BCPA) December 6 – Bloomington Parks and Recreation Ugly Sweater Run through Miller Park December 9 – A Celtic Christmas – Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts December 12 – A Christmas Carol – Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts December 13 – Christmas at the Mansions  Historic Homes Tour (various sites) December 20 Dailey and Vincent Christmas Show ( Bluegrass)  BCPA