Holiday characters returning to East Peoria festival

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Holiday characters returning to East Peoria festival

EAST PEORIA — Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, part of the original East Peoria Festival of Lights, are making a comeback for the festival's 25th anniversary, Dec. 4 through Dec. 31 in East Peoria.

The original Frosty and Rudolph floats were crowd favorites when the festival debuted in 1985. They'll be back this year as the festival kicks off on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with the Parade of Lights. It starts at 5:45 p.m. Nov. 28. The parade features 30 lighted floats traveling along a three-mile route on Washington Street.

The Festival of Lights displays will officially open a week after the parade, at 5 p.m. Dec. 4, and continue nightly through Dec. 31.

The 2009 Festival of Lights includes Folepi's Winter Wonderland, the two-mile drive-through display in VFW Park on Springfield Road. It will feature the majority of the Parade of Lights floats and other lighted displays such as Folepi's Village and the Candy Cane Factory.

Winter Wonderland will have hours of 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Winter Wonderland will be open on Christmas night, as well. Admission prices for cars and vans will be $10 each night. Pricing for larger vehicles is $20 for limousines and RVs; $50 for party buses of more than 15 passengers and $150 for full-size buses.

Folepi's Freedom Park will be at East Peoria's RiverFront Park along the Illinois River. It will be decorated in a patriotic holiday theme, featuring lighted displays of the emblems of each branch of the military as well as parade floats including the toy tank and American flag. Also included will be memorials for those lost in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, as well as a memorial for the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Display hours are 5-9 p.m. nightly. Admission is free.

The Narrated Nativity Scene, located at the intersection of Taylor Street and Springfield Road, will have a three-dimensional appearance at night. Those tuning to radio station 1610 AM will hear a two-minute narration. Admission is free. Unlike the rest of the festival displays, the Nativity is funded by private donations through the Nativity Display Association.

For information about the Festival of Lights, visit www.cityofeastpeoria.com or call the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-365-3743.

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