Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

Top of the Morning, Dec. 1, 2016

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."

Top of the morning, Nov. 30, 2016

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:

Top of the Morning, Nov. 29, 2016

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."

Top of the Morning, Nov. 27, 2016

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.

Top of the Morning, Nov. 26, 2016

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.

Top of the morning, Nov. 24, 2016

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.

Top of the morning, Nov. 23, 2016

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.

High School Confidential: Week 11

On Wednesdays throughout the school year, area students will fill us in on what's happening at their high schools:

Arcola

Top of the morning, Nov. 22, 2016

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.

Top of the Morning, Nov. 20, 2016

Go ahead and watch this video of Stella Youse bringing down the house before last weekend’s UI volleyball match at Huff Hall.