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Sandburg’s Chamber Choir dresses festively at the holiday parade in Orland Park. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Sandburg’s Chamber Choir dresses festively at the holiday parade in Orland Park. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Parade adds fun to Orland Park holiday festival

By Jeff Vorva

Every year, the Village of Orland Park tries to make its holiday celebration bigger and better.

This year, officials took on the ambitious project of hosting a parade and more than 30 units stepped off on 151st Street and marched along Ravinia Avenue until they reached Village Hall, the site of various other holiday events taking place.

Officials estimated 2,500 people took part in the festivities including four members of the Hayes family of Orland Park – Mark and Jennifer plus their children Caden and Cameron.

“It was amazing – it was fantastic,” Jennifer Hayes said. “I loved it. It was community based. There were the Cub Scouts, the Girl Scouts and different businesses.

“It was great. I’m so happy they started doing it and I hope they continue it.”

MAYOR AND SANTA scaled

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau poses with Santa Claus during the village’s holiday festival on Sunday.

Santa Claus finished up the parade and he addressed the crowd when he got to Village Hall.

Coincidentally, Santa praised the University of Michigan football team the same as Turkey Trot Master of Ceremonies Dan McMillan did to the crowd three days earlier.

“We flew into Orland Park but the reindeer and I left Friday so we could make a special trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to see Michigan play Ohio State,” Santa said. “We’re big Michigan football fans at the North Pole. I’ll tell you one thing – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh it going to be on the good list this year.

“But that’s not why you are here. This is the start of the beautiful Christmas season around the world. This is my favorite place to visit every year. There is a movie called ‘Christmas in Connecticut.’ We need to make a movie called ‘Christmas in Orland Park.’’’

After his speech, Santa headed to the Orland Park Civic Center and a long line of families waited to meet and greet him and kids told them what they wanted for Christmas.

The village’s special events manager, Doreen Biela, was happy with the parade.

“You see people’s faces and they are having so much fun,” she said. “The memories they made today are priceless. That makes what we do so much more enjoyable.”

Biela said that she has participating in many parades in her lifetime, but this is the first time she had to plan one.

 

HORSES scaled

Some riders and horses from Rancho La Tinaja were a part of the first Orland Park holiday parade on Sunday.

“All different facets of the community came together – businesses, scout groups, church groups…there were so many different entities,” she said. “It was fun to see so many people get excited. There was a lot of enthusiasm weeks before this event.

“I was getting excited listening to people get excited about the parade. It was a great opportunity for people to see and be seen.”

The next holiday event the village will host is Santa’s North Pole Express at 3:30 and 6 p.m. on Friday and 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at the Metra Station at 143rd Street.

It used to be a train ride to Oak Lawn but it has been changed to a gathering in the train station, which will be converted to Santa’s workshop. There will be games and food and visits with Santa Claus.

“Many families have been coming year after year,” Biela said. “So, it’s definitely a family favorite with people coming back.”

NEWMAN scaled

Congresswoman Marie Newman and her dog were a part of the first Orland Park holiday parade.

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