Singers carol in front of Shanahan's in downtown Forest Park during the annual Holiday Walk & Festival of Windows on Friday. | William Camargo/Staff Photographer

Although the Chamber of Commerce is again organizing the Holiday Walk on Madison Street, the annual event has evolved into a holiday kickoff for the whole community.

The Walk, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 3, from 6 to 9 p.m., has elements for the children as well as offerings for older folks. Laurie Kokenes, director of the local Chamber of Commerce, shared the following list of attractions:

  • Horse-drawn carriage rides — carriage stops on Madison at Elgin Avenue and Beloit Avenue
  • Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by fire engine to light the tree at 6 p.m. at Constitution Court (near Madison Street and Thomas Avenue)
  • Santa and Mrs. Claus will pose in their sleigh for family photos from 6 to 8 p.m. in Forest Park National Bank’s private parking lot (7348 Madison). A mailbox will be available for kids to give Santa their letters
  • An ice sculpture by Nadeau’s with a photo opportunity on the lawn in front of Todd and Holland Tea Merchants (7311 Madison)
  • Sky High Balloon Guy will do balloon twisting at The Foundry (7503 Madison)
  • Temporary tattoos will be applied by Sky High Balloon Guy at The Foundry and The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor (7347 Madison)
  • Forest Park firefighters will have a Glow Necklace Giveaway at Twisted Cookie (7401 Madison)
  • S’mores courtesy of the Park District of Forest Park at Constitution Court
  • Jimmy’s Place (7411 Madison) will be giving away meatballs and hot chocolate, as they do every year
  • The Pippin Singers of Chicago will be performing Medieval and Renaissance Madrigals at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore (7419 Madison)
  • The Forest Park Arts Alliance will have a photo booth in the old Yearbook space, 408 Thomas, which is accessed through Constitution Court.
  • Gasse School of Music students will perform at Play It Again Sports (7443 Madison)
  • Live windows at several spots: Schauer Hardware, Brown Cow, Grand Appliance (the Historical Society of Forest Park and Forest Park Review), and Suite Spotte (Forest Park Public Library)
The Holiday Walk and Festival of Windows in Forest Park. File photo

The live windows will, as usual, be whimsical and fun. For example, Rich Schauer said the theme of his hardware store window is going to be “Nightmare before the holiday season,” and Pilar Shaker, library director, said, “The library team will be busting the ghosts of holiday Scrooges as holiday ghostbusters in the Suite Spotte window.”

“The Holiday Walk,” Kokenes explained, “is a goodwill event designed to bring folks together from the community and beyond to enjoy some holiday cheer and showcase Madison Street and Forest Park. It’s a tradition for many, but each year brings some new faces who are discovering Forest Park for the first time.”

Kokenes, whose father used to edit the Review, reminisced, “The Chamber has hosted this holiday event in a number of different forms for as far back as I can remember. A 1983 Forest Park Review article reminds us that it used to be called the Christmas Walk. Santa would land his sleigh on the roof of Forest Park National Bank and the fire department would bring him safely to the ground where he would greet kids and distribute treats. He would make himself available for photos at a different location each Thursday evening during the holiday season. It’s been known as the Holiday Walk with live window displays and horse-drawn carriage rides for at least the last 15 years.”

In addition to the Holiday Walk on Dec. 3, a Menorah Lighting Ceremony was held in Constitution Court on Nov. 28, and Kiwanis did a holiday gift-wrapping event at Twisted Cookie on Nov. 27. As the Review was going to press they were looking for a location to do gift wrapping during the walk.

Empowering Gardens has opened their winter shop just west of their garden center, and the Mayor’s Toy Drive will take place on Dec. 10 at the Community Center.

The website Enjoy Illinois said of the Holiday Walk, “Forest Park’s Madison Street transforms into a vibrant winter wonderland for the annual Holiday Walk & Festival of Windows!

“Locals and visitors alike flock to Downtown Forest Park to celebrate the lighting of the village tree, while strolling along Madison Street’s charming collection of boutique shops and eclectic eateries to witness the splendor of live window displays, horsedrawn carriage rides, visits from Santa & his reindeer, festive face painting, and much more.

“In addition to the unique live window displays lining the block, merchants along Madison Street will be offering special discounts and sales during the event so bring your shopping list and find gifts for everyone on your list!”