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Holiday Festivals Bring Cheer North and South

From Southtown to downtown, holiday spirit arrives en masse this weekend.

Looking for some holiday magic this weekend? Check out these three events in two of Oak Park's business districts for chances to snap pics of Fido with Santa, stockpile on free cookies and soak up some winter wonderland warmth before the weather gets really cold.

809 S. Oak Park Ave.
Friday December 2 from 3-9 p.m. and Saturday December 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The Oak Park animal shelter's annual fundraising sale draws hundreds of people each year.

Come to support the non-profit organization by buying gently used items as well as pet gift baskets and homemade doggie treats. Christmas trees, holiday decorations and local Girl Scout-made arts and crafts will also be on sale. All profits benefit the shelter's operations budget.

“That helps many, many stray animals find homes—forever homes,” said Robin Akers, a shelter volunteer and the event's chairperson.

The bazaar, one of three main fundraisers hosted by the throughout the year, is now in its 26th. For some, the event has become a mainstay of the holiday season.

“People line up at the door on Friday,” Akers said. Many who go bring along their pets, especially for pet-friendly Pictures with Santa, which runs from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Oak Park Ave, between Lexington and Van Buren
Saturday December 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Southtown Business Association's winter festival, hosted in conjunction with the Animal Care League Holiday Bazaar, adds a touch of Santaland feel to the south Oak Park business district's local shops and holiday sales.

Storefronts decorated with window ornaments will welcome visitors taking part in the festivities.

Shoppers can expect hot cider at the and flower giveaways at . Other businesses will host gift wrapping sessions and ornament and picture frame classes. Restaurants including and will have special discounts on their menus. 

Lydia Villanueva-Soto, president of the Southtown Business Association and owner of , says she hopes the new event will raise the profile of the up-and-coming Southtown strip.

To all those who have shopped elsewhere so far, Villanueva-Soto says “you can come do some of your shopping here in Southtown as well. We have some gems here.”

Throughout downtown Oak Park
Saturday December 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, downtown Oak Park is bringing back its own holiday festival: the fifth annual Winterfest. This year's event is again packed with family-oriented activities—think puppets, balloons and storytelling—but the real focus is the Cookie Walk. Participants in the walk buy a $5 souvenir cookie tin and map of participating businesses, then stroll through area shops to collect free locally made holiday cookies.

According to Shanon Williams, marketing director for Downtown Oak Park, 54 businesses will participate in the Cookie Walk, up from 45 last year.

This year's cookies, made at local bakeries including , and , will number in the tens of thousands.

Along the way, look out for Victorian singing ensemble The Canterbury Carollers (Noon–2 p.m.), ice sculpting by award-winner Robert Childers (1-3 p.m.) and pictures with St. Nicholas (12:30-4:30 p.m.).

“Our whole goal is to just let people come out and enjoy downtown Oak Park,” Williams said.

Lauren121 December 17, 2011 at 11:36 AM
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Petra121 December 19, 2011 at 12:28 PM
There have been some really cool shopping app recommendations over the past couple of days...I ended up downloading the 'Should I Buy It?' app someone recommended and it is awesome! I was shopping for shoes and was able to quickly share them with my friends to see what they thought of them. Here is the link again to download: http://bit.ly/sibifm33

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