Holly Days celebrates season

Parents and children make Christmas decorations with others at the Happy Holly Day headquarters in Harper Court located at 5235 S. Harper Court. (Photo by Spencer Bibbs)

Contributing writer

The warm rainy weather didn’t stop Nadeau from creating the ice sculptures that line 53rd Street as part of Saturday’s Hyde Park Holly Day event.

This was the third year for the family-friendly event, planned and sponsored by the University of Chicago, which included black Santa Claus and live reindeer. Children had the opportunity to meet with some of their favorite characters — Moana, Spiderman, Darth Vader and Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” — at local stores. There were free movies at Harper Theater, 5238 S. Harper Ave.

At Connect Gallery, 1520 E. Harper Ct., the Hyde Park School of Dance performed parts of “The Nutcracker.” A troop from Betty Shabazz Academy also performed.

At Vanille Patisserie, 5229 S. Harper Ct., families decorated cookies. Kelsey Maxfield, a supervisor, said there were over 300 kids who participated in the activity.

“Sophie (Evanoff, owner of Vanille) loves to work with the community. We love seeing all the kids and families,” she said.
“All the families come together and have a safe, fun place to stay.”

It was an anniversary for the Hyde Park location.

“Today marks our one year we’ve been here. It’s a perfect way to celebrate,” she said.
Lauren Reeves, of KAM Isaiah Israel, 1100 E. Hyde Park Blvd., said 100 kids participated in a Hanukkah activity.

“We really wanted to be a part of this Holiday event to be able to represent the Jewish community; to be able to bring some diversity to this experience,” she said.

Reeves said it has been good to be part of the event.

“They’ve been really open to having Hanukkah sculptures and picture backdrop,” she said, adding that parents and kids have been interested in learning more about the Jewish Festival of Lights.

“I’ve been talking about what Hanukkah is and why it’s important. We talk about how similar both holidays are,” she said. “I can see the light bulbs in their eyes. It’s really special to see that spark.”

Courtney and Kyra Brunson brought their 2½-year-old twins Addison and Isabella to see Soul Santa and take pictures. The family recently moved to Chicago from Michigan, and Kyra said a friend invited the family to Hyde Park.

“It’s cool, a different space. There are a lot of little things for the kids to do and keep them moving,” she said.

Courtney concurred.

“We came just to see Santa and experience the city. We’re learning the neighborhood and seeing different parts,” she said. “It’s a very nice event, lots to do.”