Happily returning to Brookfield next week following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the village’s beloved Holiday Celebration — an annual event uniting residents, business owners and village officials in hometown pride and holiday merriment.
Coming together as one on the heels of the events of the last year-and-a-half is something Stevie Ferrari, director of Brookfield’s Parks and Recreation Department, says is long overdue.
“It means everything for this event to be back — this is what we do as public servants,” she said. “With Parks and Recreation, our mission is to add to the community’s quality of life, and when we have a gathering of this size with community organizations participating, it really cements the sense of community that Brookfield has. It’s really exciting to get back to something as close to normal as we can.”
This year’s fun, which once again is brought to town thanks to the partnership between the village and Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, will take place on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 2 to 6 p.m. along the Grand Boulevard and Broadway Avenue business corridors.
Unlike years past, the event will not include activities at the Brookfield Village Hall due to construction street closures in the area. Instead, for this year, the crafts, games and entertainment normally housed at village hall will take place inside the gymnasium at S.E. Gross Middle School at 3524 Maple Ave. — which conveniently, is located next to Eight Corners where the Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be held later in the evening.
Throughout the event, two courtesy trolleys will be running continuously throughout the Broadway Avenue and Grand Boulevard districts, with seven trolley stops closest to activities.
Kick off the afternoon with interactive fun in the Grand Boulevard district, with live ice sculpture demonstrations taking place in front of Pub 78, 3733 Grand Blvd.; live wood carving in front of The Little Owl Social Pub, 3747 Grand Blvd.; a meet-and-greet with Buddy the Elf from the movie “Elf” and Disney characters at Fill My Jar, 3726 Prairie Ave.; photo ops and Christmas wish list sharing with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Irish Times, 8869 Burlington Ave.; and free junior pretzels (with a coupon from the Irish Times Santa stop) at Sebastian’s Ale & Whiskey House, 8900 Fairview Ave.
In between Grand and Broadway, take some time to stop by the brand-new Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library, 3541 Park Ave., for various crafting opportunities and family reading activities.
Along Broadway, active skaters of all ages can twirl on the iceless ice rink and snow maker outside Mary’s Morning Mixup, 9110 Broadway Ave. Next door, kids can grab funky designs from a balloon artist and sip on hot chocolate while their parents enjoy seasonal adult beverages at Tischler Finer Foods, 9118 Broadway Ave.
While continuing to make your way along Broadway, find new furry friends at the petting zoo inside Veterans Memorial Circle at Eight Corners, roast S’mores outside Beach Ave. BBQ, 3453 Grand Blvd.; and tap into your creative side during free tree ornament making sessions at Compassion Factory Art Gallery & Studio, 9210 Broadway Ave. Brookfield Academy for Mini Musicians, 9213 Broadway Ave., will also be hosting music demos for children.
Warm up inside S.E. Gross School, where holiday crafting stations (picture frames, cookies, ornament making) will abound, and check out stations sponsored by Brookfield businesses from the Ogden Avenue and 31st Street business districts, which will have freebies and holiday raffles.
A Sound Education, Brookfield’s longtime music instrument retailer and music school, will be showcasing interactive music demonstrations inside the Gross School gymnasium, and area groups including the Brookfield Aging Well Team and area Girl Scouts will be providing giveaways and hosting interactive storytelling.
Of course, a holiday celebration is not complete without music, and Brookfield’s Holiday Celebration will be sure to deliver. While at Gross School, see performances by the community’s talented youth from the Riverside-Brookfield High School jazz band and choir. Setting the mood with holiday tunes in anticipation for Santa’s arrival at Eight Corners will be the Gross School choir from 5 to 5:20 p.m., and RBHS’ choir from 5:20 to 5:40 p.m.
Make sure you don’t miss out on the evening’s grand finale — Santa’s arrival via firetruck and tree lighting ceremony at Veterans Memorial Circle. Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to arrive by 5:45 p.m., where Santa will lead the crowd in a countdown to the tree lighting at 6 p.m. While there, make a quick stop by the hospitality tents sponsored by A Sound Education and Imperial Oak Brewery.
Brian Conroy, Brookfield village trustee and the village board’s liaison to the Chamber of Commerce, says the holiday celebration is a can’t-miss opportunity for fellowship and Brookfield pride.
“The fact that the business community has stepped up like they have is truly amazing given the years they have had recently shows just how invested they are in this community,” Conroy said. “These events are the true essence of community, and are a big reason people love Brookfield and are so anxious to move into this community — and once they do, rarely leave. I would encourage everyone young and old to come out and experience this first hand, as I believe it will be nothing short of magical.”
Outside central Brookfield’s celebrations, the village also encourages families to drive north to the newly renovated Candy Cane Park at the corner of 29th Street and Park Avenue.
There, stroll through a life-size, 8-foot tall candy cane lane for festive photo ops and enjoy the new equipment at the park, which opened in early November following years of anticipated redesign.