By Jim Hagerty


Here comes Santa Claus, right down State Street.

The holidays will officially be upon Belvidere Friday, Dec. 2 as the annual Hometown Christmas celebration returns from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., downtown.

The festival begins with the annual Hometown Christmas Light Parade from Madison Street to the Community Building Complex of Boone County. It will include floats and walking groups who will help those on hand welcome Santa Claus to the community celebration to follow.

Businesses, organizations, and vendors will be open throughout the festival, offering something for everybody.

Before the parade, on the corner of Pleasant and Main, Wooden-It-Be-Nice and Priceless Junk will offer pet pictures with Santa from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Donations will benefit Boone County Animal Services.

Other highlights include food and beverages, children’s fun carnival, decorated Christmas trees, arts and crafts marketplace, horse-drawn wagon rides, music, and skating at Riverside Ice Arena, which opened on Friday, Nov. 25.

People can buy commemorative buttons for $2, which can be purchased at Alpine Bank, Blackhawk Bank, BMO Harris Bank, the Boone County Historical Museum, Byron Bank, First National Bank, Poplar Grove State Bank, and Union Savings Bank.

Holiday Lights Display

To make the celebration even better, the community will light up Belvidere Park for the 21st Annual Holiday Lights Display. Organizations, businesses, schools, and individuals will offer an array of lighting arrangements, and vie for the coveted Santa’s Choice Award for the best display.

The lights will remain on display Friday, Dec. 2 through Monday, Jan. 2. Belvidere Park is at 920 W. Lincoln Ave. in Belvidere.

Holiday Wrapping Party

The Belvidere Park District will help everyone keep the spirit of Friday’s celebration alive throughout the month with a chance for parents to wrap Christmas gifts, while allowing holiday recreation for children.

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, and Friday, Dec. 16, at Rivers Edge Recreation Center, the Holiday Wrapping Party will allow parents to wrap their gifts upstairs, while children watch a movie and socialize in another area in the facility. Organizers say its s a great way to prevent kids from snooping and ruining Christmas surprises. The cost is $15 per child. Rivers Edge Recreation Center is at 1151 W. Locust St. in Belvidere.

Letters to Santa

Children of all ages won’t need postage to send their letters to Santa Claus, courtesy of the Belvidere Park District. Kids can drop off their letters to the Administration Building 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday until Monday, Dec. 5. Santa’s elves will pick up the letters and make sure they get to the North Pole. Cost is free. The Belvidere Park District Administration Building is at 1006 W. Lincoln Ave. in Belvidere.

Scott Stapp

The voice that catapulted the band Creed into stardom in the 1990s, Scott Stapp, will make a stop in Belvidere Friday, Dec. 2 for a show at the Apollo Theater.

Stapp formed Creed in 1993, and quietly found the band place in the industry with their 1997 release, “My Own Prison.” When “Human Clay” was released in 1999, Stapp and his band were suddenly one of the biggest draws in music. The record went on to sell more than 30 million copies, spawning hit singles, “Higher,” “With Arms Wide Open,” and “What If.”

Stapp left Creed in 2004. The Grammy Award winner’s solo career has produced two albums, “The Great Divide (2005) and “Proof of Life” (2013).

Tickets for Friday’s show start at $25. The Apollo Theater is at 104 N. State St. in Belvidere.

More information about Hometown Christmas is available by contacting the Belvidere Park District at (815) 547-5711, or the Belvidere Chamber of Commerce at (815) 544-4357.

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