It’s that time of year. Mariah Carey dominates the radio stations. Hats and gloves emerge from the garage. Local shops fill their windows with dainty snowflake decorations and glittery lights. Trees are tied to the tops of cars, soon brought home, and decorated with shiny ornaments, and sparkling gold stars. Most noticeable of all, every year, the towering pine tree in the center of Cook Park stands illuminated, covered in thousands of twinkling lights.
Decoration and Event Preparations
Jennifer Johnson, the Executive Director of MainStreet Libertyville, explained the individual work that goes into each aspect of Christmas events and decorations. Preparations begin as early as October. While MainStreet Libertyville plans and organizes events, the Village of Libertyville Parks and Recreation Department handles all the downtown decorations on the light posts and in Cook Park. Another special aspect of Libertyville’s holiday decorations are the creative freedoms for small businesses.
“The store owners are responsible for decorating their windows as they wish,” Johnson said.
The holiday season is an important time of year in Libertyville. The special events that take place throughout December bring joy and holiday spirit to the town. One of the most popular events is the annual tree lighting, which takes place the day after Thanksgiving. The tree lighting is a symbol of unity for the community. Holiday events such as the Cook Park tree lighting, meetings with Santa Claus, and MainStreet decorations make the Christmas season all the more special for kids and adults alike.
On the night of the tree lighting, the Libertyville community gathers in Cook Park and waits until Santa Claus arrives on a firetruck. When he arrives, he makes his way through the crowd and prepares to light the massive pine tree as the crowd begins the countdown from 10. At the end of the countdown, the tree is illuminated, and everyone yells “Merry Christmas!”
The Community’s Experience
Many LHS students have been to the tree lighting as well as participated in the other annual celebrations. Senior Astrid Mazzeno recounts her holiday experiences in Libertyville. Mazzeno, who has only lived in Libertyville for three and a half years, describes the beauty of families celebrating during Christmas.
“There are a lot of different people and families. I think it’s nice to have this sort of major celebration every year that everyone shows up for and participates in,” Astrid says.
Mazzeno says the holidays in Libertyville bring everyone closer together. She explains that the decorations and special events remind her of the importance of community.
“Community for me is people you feel at home with. I think a lot of people feel their home is just their immediate family, but for me, community is like an extension of that,” explains Mazzeno.
Freshman Dana Castellanos, who has also recently moved to town, recounts her initial impressions of the Libertyville community. She described the sense of unity in Libertyville that she believes has impacted our traditions.
“All the people working together, everyone doing their job and doing the community work, everyone pitching in,” Castellanos says.
Castellanos also praises Libertyville’s safe environment that can be observed during any occasion, whether an event or celebration.
“Libertyville is a place where you feel safe and comfortable. I know there are good people here,” Castellanos explains. She adds, “You can tell that people really care about their community.”
Junior Sarah Jacobs shares Castellanos’ appreciation for the close-knit community. Jacobs describes the differences between Libertyville and her previous community in Tampa, Florida.
“I feel like everyone here knows what’s up with each other. They’re all connected,” Jacobs explains. Jacobs continues to highlight the importance of celebrating the holiday season. She describes how unique it is, in that it brings everyone together, especially in a small town.
“Celebrating is important. To walk forward and acknowledge that right here right now it’s okay to be happy, regardless of what’s going on in the world around us,” Jacobs explains.
Even with the hardships faced as a community throughout the last year and a half, Libertyville has stuck together. The town now prepares for an exciting 2021 holiday Season, which many consider to be the most wonderful time of the year.