Shopping experience returns

Holly Richrath
Christina Taylor, a member of the Tree of Dreams Committee, hangs an ornament on a high branch of the tallest Morton Community Foundation Tree of Dreams yet. The 25-foot-tall tree was decorated Tuesday by Taylor, Nicole Gibson, Kristin Kumpf and Wayne Menold.

While many Morton residents are thinking about taking down Halloween decorations and throwing out their rotting jack-o’-lanterns, the village is preparing for a dazzling holiday season.

The season will kick off Friday with the third annual Holidazzle shopping experience and lighting of the Morton Community Foundation Tree of Dreams.

The event — formerly known as Red Bow Weekend when downtown merchants would put a red bow on their business doors to let customers know that they would be open that Sunday ­— is a Morton holiday tradition 40 years in the making.

“For the past seven years, we’ve called it Holidazzle and tried to make it a community event so that we could include shops all over the community,” said Susan Pyles, president of the Morton Tourism Association.

A chili supper at Morton Community Church of Christ will start the festivities at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The lighting of the Tree of Dreams will follow at 7 p.m.

Morton Community Foundation Executive Director Scott Witzig said he is pleased with the community’s response to the event.

“The first year that we had it, I really didn’t think that anybody would care,” he said. “I thought if 35 people show up, I’ll be happy. And there were about 100. The next year it was even bigger.”

The tree, donated by Shirley Hildebrand of Hildebrand Christmas Tree Farm was escorted to the Morton Community Foundation Friday by Jay Winkel of Jay Winkel Lawn and Landscaping Service.

Witzig said he looks forward to continuing the tree lighting in the community for years to come.

“It’s a good way for us as an organization to say thank you back to the community by providing this nice tree and a beginning to the holiday season,” Witzig said.  “I think that it just feels like it’s the start of a really neat tradition for many years because it just keeps growing.”

After the tree lighting, which Witzig said is “brief, but meaningful,” the holiday shopping extravaganza begins.

Friday evening events run from 4 to 9 p.m. and include the second annual wreath and gingerbread house display and auction, shopping and chestnuts roasted by members of the MTA for $3.50.  

Saturday’s events include Morton United Methodist Church’s annual craft and bake sale and a stop and shop at Morton United Community Church.

At the Field Shopping Center, Holidazzle-goers can visit with Santa Claus, attend a cookie decorating class and pet a Siberian tiger cub.

Pet photos with Santa will be at Pawsitively Pets, located at 201 E. Jefferson, from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Each photo is $15. All proceeds from those sales will go to TAPS.

“There’s something for everybody,” Pyles said. “We’re even throwing pets in this time.”

According to Pyles, the family-friendly event does more than promote holiday spirit. It promotes a sense of community and reminds residents of the shops located in their own backyard.

“Holidazzle is a really nice way for us to kind of jog people’s memory about all the great places there are in Morton where you can shop and especially promote our smaller businesses during this time. It’s a great way to remind people of the wonderful places that we have here in town,” Pyles said.

Wreath show

Individuals, businesses and organizations are invited to bring a decorated Gingerbread House or Wreath, for judging, show and auction during the second  Wreath and Gingerbread house show and auction from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at 201 S. Main St. (former Hometown Pharmacy) in Morton.

A variety of professional and non-professional wreaths will be for sale. The Red Barn, Johnson’s Florist, Grimm Interiors and Floral Designs have each created a holiday treasure for the event.

The Gingerbread Houses will be on display, but only those done by professional bakers will be sold. The Ashland House Banquet Center and From the Field Cooking Center have built houses for the show.

Tickets available at the door are $2 per person or $5 per family. Guests can bid on the various wreaths.

If interested in decorating a wreath or house, call Becky Grimm at 266-5250, or Susan Pyles at 696-7780. Event information is available at www.mortonmagnet.com.