Light up the holidays at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road in Brookfield, brings back the area’s longest-running lights festival – with more than one million lights to delight families – at its annual Holiday Magic weekends, which will take place Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17 and the week of Dec. 26-31.

The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the event, with lights festivities beginning at 4 p.m. Holiday Magic kicks off Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. with the lighting of the 41-foot tall Talking Tree.

Each night features live music and entertainment, ice carving demonstrations, costumed characters, a model train display, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus and more.

Regular admission and parking rates (use the main parking lot at 31st Street and Golfview Avenue) apply.

For more information, visit or call 708-688-8000.

Write to Santa at LTHS

Kids in kindergarten through third grade are invited to write letters to Santa at Lyons Township High School’s Holiday Write Night event at the South Campus Discovery Center, 4900 S. Willow Springs Road in Western Springs on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

This year’s theme is “A Berry Merry Holiday.” Families can drop in any time between 4 and 7 p.m. There’s no admission charge, but a donation of one perishable food item is requested.

The event also includes a story room, coloring room and face-painting room. Get your photo taken with an LTHS mascot, create a personalized holiday card on a computer and more.

Register by Dec. 1 at or call 708-579-7433 or 708-579-7436.

Donate a toy, get a meal

The Brookfield Rotary Club marks the Christmas season with its big event — a toy drive on Nov. 30 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Sawa’s Old Warsaw, 9200 W. Cermak Road in Broadview. 

Each person who brings a toy with a value of at least $15 gets a free buffet meal. The toys benefit the Children’s Center of Cicero-Berwyn. If you would like to donate a toy, call 708-485-3437 or drop gifts at Brookfield Financial Plans, 3439 Grand Blvd., Brookfield.

Blood drive in Riverside

The Riverside Masonic Lodge, 40 Forest Ave., hosts a community blood drive on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in conjunction with LifeSource.

To schedule your appointment, contact LifeSource at 877-543-3768 or online at and use the group code RV08.

State bicentennial flag raising

Kick off a year-long celebration of the state of Illinois’ 200th birthday at a Bicentennial Flag Raising ceremony at the flagpole between the North Riverside fire and police departments in the 2400 block of Desplaines Ave. on Monday, Dec. 4 at 11:45 a.m.

A proclamation will be read precisely at noon to coincide with a ceremony in Springfield. The RBHS choir will sing the National Anthem and state of Illinois song. Attendees are invited to lunch afterwards at the North Riverside Village Commons.

RSVP by calling Guy Belmonte by Nov. 29 at 708-447-4211.

And more

• Riverside police have partnered with Sarah’s Inn on a Holiday Gift Project to support families affected by domestic violence. Drop off new toys and gift cards ($20-$50 value range) by Dec.1 in the lobby of the Riverside Police Department, 31 Riverside Road. Learn more at

• North Riverside Parks and Rec hosts Holiday Shop and Drop on Dec. 2 and/or Dec. 9 from 5 to 9 p.m. Drop the kids off while you have a night of shopping or just a night out. Camp counselors will entertain kids with fun, games, pizza and activities. Register ($25/$15 each additional child) by calling 708-442-5515.

• Kuratko-Nosek Funeral, 2447 Desplaines Ave. in North Riverside, is collecting items to send to those serving overseas via their annual Stockings for Soldiers initiative. Through Dec. 1, pick up a free Christmas stocking, take it home, decorate it and stuff it with Christmas cheer. Then return the stuffed stockings to the funeral home. Pick up-drop off times are Mon-Fri from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• For the month of November officers from the Brookfield Police Department will be growing beards to raise money and show support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Show your support for both the police department and St. Jude’s by donating to the Beards and Badges effort at

νBrookfield Public Library, 3609 Grand Blvd., hosts Pet Safety for the Holidays on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.; a Holiday Ornament design session on Dec. 4 at 7p.m.; and Social Awareness Storytime (all ages with adult) on Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. Advance registration required. Call 708-485-6917 or visit

• Riverside Public Library, 1 Burling Road, features the microwave wood-burning art of Diane Ruzevich from Dec. 1-31. On Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. come and meet the artist and see how she does it.

• Anyone needing help learning to use their smartphone, computer, tablet or other device can get help at Teens Teach Tech on Dec. 6 from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. at Hauser Junior High, 65 Woodside Road in Riverside, Room 107. Contact Nicole O’Connell with questions at 708-837-2833 or

• North Riverside Public Library, 2400 Desplaines Ave., presents Also at the library this week: Messy Mornings for Munchkins (ages 2+), Dec. 5 at 10:30 a.m.; Frosty’s Winter Wonderland featuring Dave Herzog’s Marionettes and Santa on Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m.; a Wednesday Movie Matinee featuring A Christmas Carol (1938) on Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. Call 708-447-0869 for more info.