This Friday, kids and adults alike will get a taste of the Christmas spirit a month early with the (somewhat new) Deck the Green program.
The festivities will begin at 4 pm at the Village Center’s Village Green and, as always, will feature Buddy the Elf, a toy soldier on stilts and, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.
This year’s event is expected to offer more fun and, after two years, something of a throwback to the Jingle Mingle, an evening-long shopping and play experience for parents and children, respectively. The pandemic ended the Mingle, a more elaborate holiday kickoff, although this year’s Deck the Green should edge closer to that function.
“This is our second year with this type of event,” said community engagement analyst Hannah Weyant. “Last year did not continue with the Jingle Mingle. We didn’t have a tree last year. We were not able to source one, and this year we will have a beautiful tree lighting ceremony and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there and there will be photos available.”
The tree lighting — which will be at the Village Center’s Village Green — will also include face painting, carolers and the ever-popular train ride for children.
“We’ll also have a DJ playing a lot of kid-friendly holiday music, to get the kids moving,” said Weyant.
The event is, at its heart, a community event, although most store owners at the Village Center, offer later hours and many have discounts on products for early Christmas shoppers, depending on the store.
In recent years, Weyant has been busy cultivating relationships with nonprofits as a way to cross-promote fun with civic giveback, and this year’s Deck the Green partner is the Hinsdale Humane Society. This is the first year almost every event has had a charity that might benefit from a public village event.
“We did it for every event this year except for the concert series. This is the first year we’ve started doing the partnerships,” she said.
As for the dogs, even if they don’t get adopted, they should have a good time with the attention and pets. But though, Wayent said she’s home some puppies get adopted.
“They’ll be bringing out dogs, and they’ll have a heated tent to keep the dogs warm and safe,” she said. “The kids will be able to pet them and play with them and see them and maybe tell mommy and daddy it’s time to get their own dog.”
Weyant explained the whole focus is on community — not necessarily drawing any and every visitor from the western suburbs, as features like Deck the Green are meant to bring together Burr Ridge and surrounding communities as a way to build community and also strengthen local businesses.
“I think it’s great that we were working more with our local partners,” she said.
The tree lighting ceremony will kick off at 5 pm, and then Mayor Gary Grasso will open the ceremony.
“It’ll be nice and dark by then,” Weyant said. “The mayor will come out and will do a countdown and it’ll be a fun two, two-and-a-half-hour ceremony. But, of course, it always lasts longer than that.”
She said she’s expecting some 600 people to move through the event, although she said most of the credit goes to the independent shops that stay open later and offer discounts.
“We’re just thankful to have partnerships with other local communities, the businesses and the community members,” Weyant said. “It’s always good to have their support.”
That said, if kids — or adults who are kids at heart — miss Santa Claus, he will return to the Village Center Dec. 17 at the Santa Spectacular at Burr Ridge Center. This event kicks off at 2 pm and should last two hours.
Jesse Wright is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.