Family Picks: The holiday cup runneth over

Family Picks: The holiday cup runneth over

With the holidays approaching, there's almost too much to do this weekend! Pick your favorites from this list of Christmas parades, seasonal performances and Santa events, in Champaign, Tuscola, Monticello, LeRoy and more.

We've even mixed in a few non-holiday events, for good measure!

Meet Santa! 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tolono Public Library, 111 E. Main St., Tolono. Free.

Come in and have your picture taken with the big guy, go over your list once or twice, and make a special treat for the reindeer that you can put out on Christmas Eve. 

For information: Call 485-5558 or visit

"The Nutcracker": Champaign-Urbana Ballet, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Tryon Festival Theater, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U. Admission charge.

The Champaign Urbana Ballet opens its 2011 season with this holiday favorite by Tchaikovsky. Featuring company dancers as well as local children, the ballet is accompanied by a live 40-piece orchestra, Sinfonia de Camera, and the sets and costumes are on par with ballets produced in the big city.

Tickets are $34 for adults, $16 for ages 12 and under.  Recommended for ages 5 and up

For information: Call the  Krannert Ticket Office at 333-6280 or visit or

"Nuncrackers!" The Nunsense Christmas Musical, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Parkland College Theater, 2200 W. Bradley Ave., C. Admission charge.

Those irreverent nuns, the Little Sisters of Hoboken, offer their own gifts for the Christmas season. Sister Amnesia and the crew will have new songs and an outrageous version of "The Nutcracker."  Appropriate for ages 10 and up.

Other performances: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 10 and 11, and 3 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $6 for children.

For information or reservations: Call 351-2528 or visit

"A Christmas Story": Rantoul Theatre Group, 8 p.m. Friday and Saurday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Grissom Hall Theater, 914 Arends Blvd., Rantoul. Admission charge.

The Rantoul Theatre Group presents this heartwarming classic by author Jean Shepherd and adapted by Philip Grecian. “A Christmas Story” revolves around a young boy named Ralphie Parker who wants only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB gun. Who hasn't seen the movie version, complete with the infamous snowsuit scene and leg lamp?

Other performances: 8 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 and 2 p.m. Dec. 12. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors.

For information: Call 892-1121 or visit

Breakfast With Santa: 8:30 to 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Silvercreek Restaurant, address, U. Admission charge.

Enjoy a breakfast buffet while your kids chat with Santa, decorate cookies, pet a rabbit and do craft projects. The price is $13.95 per person and advance registration is required.

For information or reservations: Call 328-3402

Christmas in Tuscola: All day Saturday, downtown Tuscola. Free.

-- Breakfast with Santa: 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Douglas County Museum 700 W. Main St (840-2549). Free doughnuts, juice, milk, a gift and visit with Santa. Free for kids, adults are asked to make a donation. Open to everyone who believes! 
-- Santa's Shop: 9 to 11 a.m., Tuscola United Methodist Church. Gifts priced for children to give.
-- Dickens Walk: Characters from Dickens walk the streets of downtown, 10 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
-- Christmas Parade: 11 a.m., Main Street.
-- Children’s Activities: 2 to 3 p.m., Tuscola Public Library, 112 E. Sale.

For information: Visit the city of Tuscola's Facebook page

Monticello Christmas Parade: "Christmas Wishes," 11:30 a.m. Saturday, downtown Monticello.

For information: Visit

Old-fashioned Christmas: "To Grandmother's House We Go," 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Early American Museum, Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, 600 N. Lombard, Mahomet. Free.

Children can make ornaments or presents for family members, get them gift-wrapped, hear a storyteller spin stories of the past, and sing a Christmas carol or two.

For information: Call 586-2612 or visit

Ornament time: Make and Take Ornament Workshop, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mahomet Library, 1702 E. Oak St., Mahomet. Free.

Children of all ages and skill levels are invited to come to the library and make ornaments. Drop in anytime and stay as long as you'd like. No need to register.

For information: Call 586-2611 or visit

Family Dance Party: Step on the Beat with Kate Kuper, 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.
Bring your family for a fun-filled dance party based on Kate Kuper's newly published multimedia program, "Step on the Beat!" 

For information: Call 367-4069 or visit

Wiiiii!: uDraw Game Tablet Demonstration Event, 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Orpheum Children's Science Museum, , 346 N. Neil St., C. Museum admission charge.

Tap your inner artist by trying out the latest toy for Wii, the uDraw Game Tablet. Meet with professional game artists at Volition, which is sponsoring the event, to paint, draw and color anything from simple doodles to intricate masterpieces. The uDraw system will also be available at the Orpheum's holiday event following the Parade of Lights (see below).

Museum admission is $4 for adults, $3 for children ages 2 to 18.

For information: Call 352-5895 or visit

Parade of Lights: "Sounds of the Season" parade and tree-lighting, 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, downtown Champaign. Free.

Join the Champaign Park District for this popular holiday parade through downtown Champaign, starting at Neil Street near One Main Plaza. The route has changed this year, with the parade no longer going around West Side Park. Check this map for details.

Musical entertainment begins at 5:30 p.m., and the parade will feature carolers, lighted floats playing holiday songs and the University of Illinois a capella group No Comment. It will end up back at One Main, with Santa's arrival at 6:45 p.m. and the annual tree-lighting ceremony at 7 p.m.

Bring a gift to put under the tree; donations benefit the Champaign Shop-With-A-Cop program and Champaign County Toys for Tots.

In case of bad weather, the parade will be postponed until 6 p.m. Sunday.

For information: Call 398-2550 or visit

Indoor Snow Globe: After-the-Parade-Celebration, 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Orpheum Children's Science Museum, 346 N. Neil St., C. Admission charge for some events.

Enjoy storytelling, sledding, crafting, drumming and the uDraw adventure in this post-parade party. The Orpheum Theater will be transformed into a snow globe with indoor sledding, snowball-throwing and ice-fishing.

You can also enjoy hot chocolate, treats and crafts on the Orpheum’s mezzanine, hear a theatrical storytelling of “Within the Cloak of Christmas," or warm up to the sounds of the  Bolkada Conde’s Children’s African drumming troupe.

The event is free for families, with a $3 admission charge for the Opheum Theatre Snow Globe (or four tickets for $10).
For information: Call 352-5895 or visit

LeRoy Christmas Parade: 2 p.m. Sunday, downtown LeRoy. Free.

"Jingle All the Way" is the theme for this year's parade, which starts at LeRoy High School at the corner of Mill and Center streets.

Annual Carol Concert: 3 p.m. Sunday, Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U. Admission charge.

An exuberant tradition returns when choruses, instrumentalists, and audience members join in a celebration of the winter season. Presented by the UI School of Music.  Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors.

For information: Call 333-6280 or visit Krannert's website

Winter Lights Festival: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts lobby, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., C. Free.

The Krannert Center Student Association will turn the lobby into a lively 1950s cocktail party. Jazz groups and members of the Illini Swing Society will perform, Father Christmas will appear, and kids of all ages can enjoy crafts and holiday goodies.

The celebration will culminate with the lighting of Krannert's new outdoor display depicting the aurora borealis, or northern lights. It will be visible through the end of the semester.

Guests are encouraged to bring donations for Toys for Tots and the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

For information: Call 333-6280 or visit Krannert's website

Gingerbread Man: 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U.

Run, run as fast as you can to this program about the runaway gingerbread man.  Stories, songs, a video, craft, and, of course, a yummy gingerbread snack! For children 7 and under with a parent.

For information: Call 367-4069 or visit


Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for upcoming family friendly events, pulled from our News-Gazette online calendar, e3 magazine and other sources.

Do you have an item you’d like to submit? Email me at, or use the new and improved N-G online calendar on the News-Gazette home page,

Photo:  Clara (Anna Liin) dances with the mice during a rehearsal of 'The Nutcracker'  at Krannert's Tryon Festival Theater on Wednesday evening. Darrell Hoemann/The News-Gazette





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