ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
The Boone County Museum of History hosted the Boone County Veterans Assistance Commission and others during the event.

Hometown Christmas is an annual holiday celebration in Belvidere. Hosted by the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce, the event took place the first Friday in December. The evening included a “Light-Up the Night” parade, special activities throughout the downtown area, vendors, food trucks, and lovely Christmas displays.

December, this year, Friday, Dec. 2, the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce brings the community together. Scenes were painted on business and organization windows along South State Street. The lights from various organizations and businesses were lit in Belvidere Park on Lincoln Avenue. The Hometown Christmas Parade hosted by the Belvidere Park District was a joy for everyone who viewed it. The Grinch walked alongside floats and tossed out candy. In one case, he was imprisoned in a small, barred cell on the float itself. Many of parade watchers headed over to see the town’s Christmas tree light up as soon as the parade ended.

Participating businesses held specials and sold or gave away hot chocolate, apple cider, and goodies for residents and visitors from out of town to enjoy. Cory Thornton of CT’s Hobbies, 505 S. State St., said, “I think this is the busiest one (Hometown Christmas) we have ever seen. It has been a good event. Little ones are already here checking out what the store has to offer and more of the older ones will be coming in soon to see what specials we have. Everyone is having a great time.”

The customary horse-drawn wagon rides trotted up and down State Street. The Belvidere Fire Dept offered a warming area, a hot drink, and activities for visitors to the State Street Station, 123 S. State St. The Belvidere Police Dept. was there giving away books and the 4-H Federation was there with give-aways as well.

The Boone County Museum of History provided room for organizations also. The Veterans Assistance Commission of Boone County provided pens, information, and giveaways. Other organizations were set up with tables and provided give-aways and information.

A live nativity was being held in a large tent behind Dari Ripple. The movie “A Christmas Carol” was showing next to S. State St. by the Hamblock Ford booth where they were giving away free hot chocolate with miniature marshmallows. Luminarias were placed along the center of the street to provide a festive look to the proceedings. A small business/craft fair was being held in the bottom level of the Community Center Building. A very long line of people showed up to view the Christmas Trees on the Main Floor. When they were ready, the County Line Grange had food ready for sale in the Lower Level with the small business fair. They had to deal with long lines of their own. A lot of people really appreciated the hot dogs, chili dogs, BBQ, nachos, chips, and pie they provided.

The Belvidere Streets Dept. placed concrete barriers at cross street intersections and other barriers in parking areas to keep vehicles from attempting to cross State St. and disrupt the parade and keeping people enjoying the event safe.

One parade-goer said, “They don’t have anything like this in Rockford. I will have to bring the kids next year.”

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