To capitalize on the holiday season, Jeff Sukoski at Famous Liquors has set up a display of holiday beers — Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing, Fistmas (with ginger and orange peel) from Revolution, Freezing Season from Flying Dog, another Christmas Ale from Anchor, Jingle Bales from Spiteful Brewing, Holiday Ale from New Belgium, and Christmas Porter from Three Floyds.

Heidi Vance and Jayne Ertel, co-owners of Team Blonde have put together gift items that can be curated.  For example:

Charcuterie board, charcuterie book, oven mitt, and dish towel; candles that work to end human trafficking, gorgeous glass match holders, and a meditation book; a journal made from recycled books, candle poured in a recycled wine bottle, and a handbag made from recycled innertubes.

Bob and Milady Gerger take a selfie along Madison street during Forest Park’s holiday walk on Friday, December 4.

Business owners up and down Madison Street are attempting to surf the consumer spending wave that seems to always happen between Black Friday and January 1. The National Retail Federation “expects Americans to spend 6% to 8% more this 2022 holiday season, bringing overall spending to between $942.6 and $960.4 billion.”

That’s why the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce does everything it can to transform Madison Street into the kind of winter wonderland that will attract both residents and out of towners to the small businesses between Harlem and the Desplaines River, and the village supports the effort by hanging ice blue banners on the 70 lamp poles along the street and putting up a close to 30-foot Christmas tree in Constitution Court.

According to the website MoneyMentor, each American family plans to spend an average of $833 this holiday season which is slightly above the 10-year average.

Business owners are attempting to take advantage of that urge to spend by offering more than just presents to put under the tree.  At the Brown Cow, for example, Connie Brown is featuring gingerbread, egg nog, peppermint and pumpkin ice cream.

Century and Sleuth’s bookstore hosted the Pippens during Forest Park’s holiday walk on Friday, December, 4.

Jacques Shalo at Kribi is offering seasonal drinks — Winter Morning Chai, Elf Off the Shelf Matcha, Coquito Latte and Peppermint Mocha — to get his coffee shop into the holiday spirit.

“Grinch is what we are calling a holiday shot special,” said Anthony Crawford, the general manager of O’Sullivan’s Public House.  “It’s made with Bailey’s Irish Cream and Green Peppermint liquors.”

“Elements Massage is offering a buy one, get one 50% off deal on gift cards,” Jean Erhardt, the owner, reported. 

Chris Everett the president of Everett Wealth Solutions is giving clients a 20% discount on financial planning fees “before they increase next year.”

Jim Jodoin, the longtime owner of Jimmy’s Place, is joining the other restaurant owners in town in booking Christmas parties.

Pineapple Dance Studio is offering a free Zumba class to all new clients during the month of December.

Ballet dancers (l to r) Grace Knox, Olivia Schauer and Kaitlyn Childs, dance in the window at Hallmark on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, during the annual holiday window walk on Madison Street throughout downtown Forest Park. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff

Empowering Gardens is also offering not a product but an experience.  On Dec. 10 Ana and Richard are hosting an ornament painting session for kids.  “This is a perfect winter holiday easy craft for your child,” said Ana, “that can become a meaningful fun decoration. The session includes supplies and a snack and will cost $10 person.

Erich Krumrei said Play It Again Sports will decorate its window with spray painted sports gear and lights and will host the Gasse School of Music during the Holiday Walk.

The annual Holiday Walk which Krumrei mentioned will take place on Friday, Dec. 2, beginning at 6 p.m.

Nothing but good fun on Madison

The Holiday Walk, said Laurie Kokenes, executive director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, “showcases Forest Park as a whole as well as our downtown business district and brings folks together to share some holiday cheer made possible by the generosity of our sponsors.

Richard Schauer, of Schauer’s Hardware, and his dog Sidney inside their store window during the Holiday Walk. Their theme was to help feed people and they were donating 10% of their sales to the food pantry. (Jennifer Wolfe/Contributor)

“Live window displays, merchant open houses, horse-drawn carriage rides, balloon twisting, face painting, Santa & Mrs. Claus and an Ice Sculpture photo op are just part of the magic of this annual Holiday Walk on Madison Street.”

Like the Casket Races, the Holiday Walk is designed to both attract business to the merchants on Madison Street and also to contribute to a sense of community spirit.  “What makes the event so special,” said Kokenes, “is the creativity of the business community and other organizations is shared with the greater community, bringing us all together for a joyful event.”

Speaking of creativity, Rich Schauer claims that he is going to actually make it snow INSIDE his hardware store.  

In addition to Krumrei hosting the Gasse School, Augie Aleksy will feature the Medieval Singers at  Centuries and Sleuths Book Store during the walk.

Statewide enthusiasm for Holiday Walk

The Enjoy Illinois website raved about the walk saying:

Forest Park’s Madison Street transforms into a vibrant winter wonderland for the annual Holiday Walk & Festival of Windows!

There were many families including the Watkins family strolling down Madison street during Forest Park’s holiday walk on Friday, December 4.

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, horse-drawn 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!

The holidays start on Madison St.

It is the most magical night of the year. The Holiday Walk is here.

Live window displays, merchant open houses, horse-drawn carriage rides, balloon twisting, face painting, Santa & Mrs. Claus and an Ice Sculpture photo op are just part of the magic of this annual Holiday Walk on Madison Street.

  • 6 p.m. Santa & Mrs. Claus arrive by fire engine at Constitution Court to light the tree (Madison & Thomas)
  • 6 to 8 p.m. Visit Santa & Mrs. Claus at Forest Park Bank for a chat and photo ops. The bank is at 7348 Madison. 
  • 6 to 8 p.m. Horse-drawn sleigh rides begin at Beloit and Madison and at Elgin and Madison. These are one-way rides from 2 different stops.
  • 6 to 9 p.m. Balloon twisting at Foundry/FP
  • 6 to 9 p.m. Face painting at Fiore Pizzeria & Bakery and Everett Wealth Solutions
  • 6 to 9 p.m. Ice sculpture photos on the lawn at Todd & Holland Tea Merchants

And there’s more

Park District of Forest Park is making s’mores — while they last — in Constitution Court.

Forest Park Arts Alliance is doing a photobooth at 7251 Madison St. (yes, it’s an empty storefront). Use their props or bring your own.