The annual Festival of Lights Parade kicks off the holiday season on Friday - and welcomes good old Santa Clause himself - to Crystal Lake.
Grab the kids, grandma and grandpa, too, and make your way to historic downtown Crystal Lake to watch a colorful, illuminated holiday parade filled with more than 50 decorated floats.
The parade starts at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23.
Entries this year include floats brightly decorated with thousands of sparkling holiday lights, the Lundahl Middle School band, the Crystal Lake Strikers drum corps, the District 47 school bus drivers, boy and girl scout troops, a zamboni from the local ice rink, and the honorary guest - Santa Clause in his horse-drawn sleigh, said Diana Kenney, executive director of Downtown Crystal Lake.
"When Santa's sleigh arrives at Crystal Lake Avenue and Williams Street, he will throw his magic dust, and the downtown Christmas tree will magically light," Kenney said.
Kenney said the annual Festival of Lights Parade draws thousands of spectators each year. In some places, spectators line the streets 12 people deep, she said.
"You will be astounded by the crowds," she said.
This year, the Jason and Kimberly Petersen family from Crystal Lake won the honor of riding in Santa's horse-drawn sleigh during the parade. The Petersen's daugther Rhianna, 7, and son Ashton, 5, will arguably have the best seat in the parade.
After the festivities, Santa will begin visiting with children and hear their wish lists from his cozy little house in the Brink Street Market, located off Williams Street.
The Festival of Lights Parade begins at Crystal Lake City Hall, travels west on Woodstock Street, south on N. Caroline Street, east on Crystal Lake Avenue, north on Grant Street, east on Woodstock Street, south on Williams Street (same route as last year- see attached map of the route).