MATTOON -- The 11th annual Celebrate Downtown Mattoon Christmas festival is scheduled to offer a larger lighted parade, costumed characters, live music, and many other activities Friday evening.
The celebration will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. along Broadway and Western avenues from 14th to 21st streets, with more than 20 participating restaurants and shops set to stay open late until at least 8 p.m. The Lighted Christmas Parade, sponsored by K.C. Summers, will start at 7:15 p.m. at 14th and Broadway and then travel west to 21st and Western.
Harold Shores, owner of Shores Jewelry, said the number of entries that have signed up for this year's lighted parade has doubled to approximately 30. He said this parade debuted with about half a dozen lighted floats three years ago and has grown every year since then.
"More people have seen the parade and how much fun it is," Shores said.
Heritage Park at the southeast corner of Broadway and 17th Street will be illuminated with Christmas lights during the celebration as holiday tunes provided by Sound Source Music play there.
Live music will be featured downtown, as well. The lineup includes the Tuesday Ukulele Group at DeBuhr's Feed & Seed, live music at Jackpot Joe's, Brad Brown at K.C. Summers, Mattoon Middle School and High School choirs at the train depot, piano music by Jessica Closson at Hubbartt's Downtown Diner, and Ellen Stitt at the Mattoon Area Family YMCA.
Ed Dowd, executive director of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, said store fronts throughout downtown also will host up to 60 different costumed Christmas characters, with costumes provided by The Upper Room.
Santa Claus will visit with children from 5 to 8 p.m. at Shores Jewelry, where families can get photos for $5 per picture courtesy of Wurtsbaugh Photography and Multi-Print Solutions.
The Mattoon Public Library will host Whoville children's activities from 5 to 8 p.m., including visits with The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who. The celebration also will feature performances by the Mattoon High School Wavettes, Mattoon Middle School Dance Team, Green Wave Singers, and Salvation Army Youth.
Other activities will include a YMCA children's artwork show at Artsy Chic Studio, children's tinsel and glitter bar at 7 Salon, and the Charleston Alley Theatre's performance of "Ornaments: 6 Christmas Stories in 1 Act" at 8 p.m. at the depot. Food vendors will be open at the celebration and Villa Pizza will sell pizza by the slice.
Dowd said there will be horse and carriage stops at 15th-Broadway, the depot, the K.C. Summers showroom, and YMCA, plus Camp New Hope train stops at DeBuhr's and the Sears Hometown Store for those who want to catch a ride to the various festivities.
"The celebration has gotten bigger, bigger and bigger," Shores said. "With the help of sponsors, it has really went gangbusters."
More information is available at the Celebrate Downtown Mattoon page on Facebook.