A Very Merry Holiday on the Town: Day 2

By Annaliese Harper

Rather than an inflatable snowman, visitors of Huntley’s First Congregational Church are greeted with a table of boy scouts selling wreaths.

Through the doorway is a table right in front of the entrance to a cookie walk. Any cookies inside are $8 a pound.

Up a half flight of stairs is the farmer’s market. While there were some booths from the previous day’s showing, many new local vendors with tables full of organic goods are there to sell.

On the lowest floor is another cookie decorating area, but with only one volunteer this time.

Back upstairs, around noon, the church hosts two bell choirs. Each one has four songs to play and 99 bells to play them. All ranging in size from 6 ounces to 16 pounds.

The echoing chimes work together to create songs everyone knows. There is a difference from the previous year’s song list.

“We never play the songs we played the year before,” says the director of the Whitechapel Church Choir, Joel Ahrendt.

Next door, at the Lutheran Trinity Church, a couple volunteers put together various children’s games and prizes out front. Team games and solo games were spread out across the lawn.

Later, in Town Square, families wait for the biggest event of Very Merry Huntley: the tree lighting.

Edward Jones distributes the hot chocolate today, with mini bags of marshmallows.

A long line trails down the sidewalk, all waiting for the red, blue, yellow, and green train. The train itself wraps around town square, on sidewalks and streets.

Singing their own jolly tune, Merry Maskers sounds out of the speakers, the real sound coming from the makeshift stage of the Huntley Gazebo. 

Just past 4:45, the town already dark as the Merry Maskers step away from the microphone as Barb Read announces the winners of the tree decorating contest.

Two girl scout troops, 237 and 1886, secured first and second place respectively, and the Huntley History Alliance won third.

After the winners were announced, red and blue lights fill the square as a fire truck comes roaring in, carrying someone special in the back.

When asked about her favorite part of the night, Huntley High School teacher Amanda Robles said, “I think… seeing Santa on the firetruck.”

Sure enough, after spending the previous day spending time with children at the Huntley library, the big man in red enjoys his spot of honor in the backseat of his second favorite red vehicle, right after his own sleigh.

After going around the square, he walks up to his seat in the gazebo, right in front of the central tree. 

He counts to three, shakes his bells, and all the lights turn on and the fireworks start. Children stare in awe at the sparkling flares.

“It actually chokes me up when this happens. So Santa- we light the square tomorrow, and then like two seconds after the square is lit, we have the firework show. And everybody’s ‘oohs and ‘ahs, everybody gets so excited, and it’s just- its very cool to see everyone,” Read said.

As kids line up to give Santa their wish list, people start to reflect on the event.

“What a great event for the community!” said Dave Hardt, a local scout leader.

With the line for Santa dwindling, the lights lit, and the Holiday pasta dinner closing, the Holiday season is finally in full swing.