The holiday season spirit filled the streets of downtown Joliet on Nov. 25 as thousands of spectators were on hand to kickoff the annual Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade.
Anne Slabaugh, of Joliet, said she was looking forward to kicking off the holiday season with her children and her husband, Matt.
“I like all the bands and the kids have fun doing it,” she said.
“I like to see all the different floats and bands,” he said.
This year was the Slabaugh’s second time taking part in the festivities.
Anne said the reason behind the event’s popularity is clear.
“I think everyone’s off work, and people are starting to get in the holiday spirit,” she said. “I would say it’s a better parade than most. There’s a lot of school bands, and kids love it with so much candy.”
Noting that celebrating Christmas is a big deal in her family, Anne said she’s excited to have an early chance to get into the holiday season spirit.
“(I) look forward to it all year,” she said.
Matt mirrored that sentiment.
“It’s because it’s a good time to spend with family,” he said.
Melissa Campopasso, of Joliet, was watching the parade with her sister-in-law and their children. She said the event organizers put on a good show and parade.
“It was a very good time,” Campopasso said. “Our kids very much enjoyed it.”
This year was Campopasso’s first time visiting the festival and parade.
“Events like this are definitely a good idea,” she said.
Noting that the holiday season is her favorite time of year, Campopasso said it’s nice to see the community come together.
“It’s just a fun time of year,” she said.
Taran Glunz, 18, of Joliet, was watching the parade with his younger brothers and sister.
“Seeing them have fun, I guess, I had fun,” he said.
Glunz said of all the festivities in downtown Joliet, he was most surprised by the parade.
“I didn’t get bread this year,” he said, adding that he always looks forward to getting a loaf of bread when Milano Bakery makes their way through the parade.
Noting the sense of discord between the police and community, Glunz said he thinks the parade and festival serves a meaningful purpose.
“Everybody just coming together for the holiday is good,” he said.
The Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade was organized by the Joliet City Center Partnership. The main sponsor for the event was the University of St. Francis.