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Tree lighting date and location moved to Lake Katherine

          While October is just around the corner, Palos Heights officials Tuesday heard plans for a revamped start this year to the Christmas holiday season in the city.

          The big yuletide celebration is now planned for the day after Thanksgiving at a new venue, Lake Katherine Nature Center.

          For years, the city’s tree-lighting ceremony has been held the first Friday evening in December at the Palos Heights Fire Protection District’s firehouse, at 123rd Street and Harlem Avenue.

Typically, Santa Claus arrives by fire truck, school choirs sing, the mayor lights the tree facing Harlem and families enjoy hot drinks and sweet treats inside the station. The event is organized by the city, fire district and chamber of commerce.

The Palos Area Chamber of Commerce now plans to move the date and location of the tree-lighting ceremony and celebration to Friday, Nov. 25, at the Lake Katherine Nature Center, Alderman Jeffrey Key (1st Ward) told the City Council Tuesday.

“They will expand it” and add to the festivities, Key said. It is being done in part for safety reasons, he added. Key serves as the council’s liaison to business organizations in the city, including the chamber and Business and Economic Development Committee.

The city’s launch of the holiday season won’t end there, however. The following weekend, on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3, festivities will continue at the second Holidays on Harlem celebration held across downtown Palos Heights, Key said.

It is again being organized by Diane’s Place (formerly Tastee- Freez) owner Diane Goerg and the Harlem Avenue Business Association. The group is aiming for 50 businesses, not only in the central business district but across the city, to participate, Key said. They do so by offering snacks, discounts and other specials as a way to kick off the Christmas shopping season in the city.

Ice sculptures, a visit by Santa Claus and craft stations are among the activities that Alderman Key mentioned will be part of the festivities.

Does that mean the city’s tree will no longer twinkle on the front lawn of the firehouse at 123rd Street and Harlem in the heart of business district?

Key did not discount the possibility that there will still be a tree lit at the firehouse. The placing of a prominent, brightly lit tree at the city’s municipal parking lot where the weekly Palos Heights Farmers Market is held through mid- October is being strongly considered, he added.

 

Senior water discount

Residents, 65 years or older, living within the corporate limits of Palos Heights are eligible for a 25 percent reduction on the water bill portion only (sewer portion not included).

Proof of age (driver’s license or state I.D.) and proof of residency (property tax bill) are required.

Seniors formerly were required to apply only once to obtain the yearly discount. But under a new pilot program, they must now reapply every two years to retain the discount.

The change was made because the discount program was open to abuse by ineligible non-seniors now occupying the residence at the address of the eligible senior who had either died or moved out of the home, explained Mayor Bob Straz and Alderman Don Bylut (1st Ward), chairman of he council’s Water and Sewer Committee.

Seniors can re-apply for the water bill discount at City Hall. In Oak Hills Country Club Village, where many seniors live, Alderman Jerry McGovern organized a registration date at the clubhouse and notified senior residents about it in a flier delivered to their homes.

About 25 percent of water bills paid in the city qualify for the senior discount, Straz estimated. Asked what percentage of eligible seniors actually take advantage of the discount due them, Straz said that figure is unknown without knowing the exact number of seniors 65 and older who live in the city.

Officials have said they are willing to review the pilot program requiring the two-year reapplication and “look at it again” if need be, Alderman Bylut noted.

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