MATTOON -- The Christmas season is scheduled to kick off with Mattoon Lightworks opening Friday night at Peterson Park and three holiday events being held Saturday downtown.

The annual events downtown include the Candy Cane Christmas Parade, the Mattoon Santa Chase foot race, and the Holiday Arts & Handmade Crafts Sale at the train depot.

Mattoon Tourism & Arts Director Angelia Burgett said the Lightworks holiday lighting displays at Peterson Park are scheduled to open for the season on Nov. 17 and remain in operation until Dec. 26. The hours will be 5-10 p.m. Friday to Saturday and 5-9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday each week. Entry is free, but donations will be accepted to help support Lightworks.

Burgett said Lightworks will offer additional displays this year thanks to the support of sponsors and the money saved be switching all the bulbs to energy efficient LED lighting. She said plans are being finalized for holding live nativity scenes at Lightworks during the four Friday evenings in December.

The activities downtown on Saturday are scheduled to begin with the Mattoon Arts Council holding its fourth annual arts and crafts sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the he Lone Elm Room at the train depot, 1718 Broadway Ave.

Arts Council Coordinator Julia Degler Whitmore said this year's sale will feature 10 artisans, including returning favorites and vendors that are new to this event. Some of the items that will be available for purchase include jewelry, ponchos and hats, wood-burning utensils, lotions, soaps, quilts and ornaments. More information is available by visiting www.mattoonartscouncil.org or calling 217-258-6286.

Whitmore said harpist Julia Kay Jamieson is scheduled to perform from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. during the arts and crafts sale. She noted that the sale will once again take place on the same day as the Christmas parade and the Santa Chase, which will both pass by the front of the depot.

"There are many cool things to do in Mattoon that day," Whitmore said. She added that the Coles County Historical Society museum in the depot is scheduled to be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Parade entries can register in advance at http://mattoon.illinois.gov/ChristmasParade or by picking up a registration form at the tourism and arts office in the depot. Entries are asked to start lining up at noon Saturday along Western Avenue, west of 21st Street.

The parade will start at 1 p.m. Saturday. The procession will travel east on Western and Broadway avenues to Peterson Park. There will be a contest judging of entries in categories for commercial, nonprofit/service organizations, and religious organizations.

Race day registration for the Santa Chase will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Saturday at the depot. The half marathon will start at 12:55 p.m. and the 5K will begin at 1 p.m. The foot race's participants are encouraged to wear Santa hats and other colorful holiday clothing. More information is available at http://www.mattoonsantachase.com/.

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Reproter

Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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