For nearly 20 years, Big Santa has been part of the Wampler family's Christmas. So when the mammoth mannequin went missing early Monday morning, the mood on Greencroft Drive in Champaign was mighty glum.
"I thought he was a goner," Shari Wampler said. "Or that we'd find him in a ditch or a dumpster."
Introducing Steve Bourbon, a 2015 University of Illinois graduate who has joined The News-Gazette as a jack-of-all-trades with a focus on print and online production. He's a fan of Netflix, owns a cat named Alley and is into video games. Here's more:
For an accurate count of just how many people crammed into downtown Champaign for Saturday's Parade of Lights, we turned to the expert: The guy who steered Santa's float.
"When I turned down Main Street, I couldn't believe it," St. Joseph's Roger Beals said. "We had to get people out of the way just so we could keep going. By far, it's the best crowd I've ever seen."
Champaign's Sue Young's a big deal even though she'd be the last to tell you about it.
Inducted into the Illinois Women's Golf Association Hall of Fame, Young didn't race to the phone to spread the news. It took a friend's call — two months after the ceremony — to tip us off.
Be it flutes or fundraising, the band at Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond is good at what it does.
On Friday morning, a bus carrying 48 motivated musicians took off from Arthur bound for Florida, where ALAH will mix a performance with much pleasure over a long weekend. It's the first out-of-state trip by the band at the 2-year-old school in Douglas County.
In case you were wondering ...
— One of the behind-the-scenes changes necessary for this weekend's IHSA football championships played out Wednesday morning as a soggy crew switched out goal posts at Memorial Stadium.
High school kickers have more room for error: Goal posts at that level are 23 feet, 4 inches wide compared to 18-by-6 in college.
Cy Young winner Max Scherzer couldn't attend Saturday's banquet in Missouri honoring the Parkway Alumni Association's Hall of Fame Class of 2016, of which he is a member.
On Wednesdays throughout the school year, area students will fill us in on what's happening at their high schools:
Kris Fisher is as much a part of Champaign's holiday season as Kris Kringle.
For the last 15 years, the Ohio native has decorated the windows of Esquire Lounge on Walnut Street. The Champaign resident was back at it Monday, using her paintbrush to add holiday cheer to a busy thoroughfare.