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Window Wonderland brings festivities to downtown Elgin

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Updated: January 28, 2013 9:48AM

With everything from live reindeer to fresh evergreen wreaths, ice skaters to horse-drawn carriages, the 14th Annual Downtown Elgin Window Wonderland offered family friendly activities to draw visitors to the community Saturday. Local businesses decorated their windows with holiday themes to add to the festivities.

“We drove the reindeer in this morning,” said Steve Dart, owner of Santa’s Crew, a Luxemberg, Wisconsin-based reindeer farm.

Enclosed in a pen across from The Razor’s Edge barber shop at Civic Parking Lot on Douglas Avenue, two reindeer, “Comet,” and “Cupid,” each weighing about 300 pounds, snacked on hay, oats, and vitamin-coated pellets as children gathered for pictures. Dart’s son, Derek Van Pay, 15, and Dart’s mother, Bernadine Dart, talked with visitors about the animals.

“They live up to 20 years, and they were born on our farm,” said Dart, whose farm consists solely of eight reindeer that travel with him to about a dozen sites each year for meet and greets with families. “I had a whitetail farm for 14 years, and we switched to reindeer because we had little kids at the time, and reindeer are more docile.”

Just a few feet away, Boy Scout Troop 111 sold evergreen wreaths. Across the lot near the Hemmen’s Cultural Arts Centre, about 30 skaters took advantage of the free ice skating during the early afternoon. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, The Centre of Elgin offered visits with Santa, and special discounts on ceramics, the climbing wall and swimming for the day.

Lori Palmisano, a St. Charles resident, represented Weight Watchers in the vendor fair area of The Centre. As a receptionist with Weight Watchers, she said her weekly role is to weigh in City of Elgin employees who are involved in their program.

Palmisano said for holiday weight management, Weight Watchers encourages members to enjoy their favorite foods while being mindful of consumption.

“Instead of eating the entire batch of cookies, you only eat two or three,” she said. “So whatever you like, you just have a different mindset, because it’s about portion control.”

Amy Knorek, manager at The Centre, said the day’s activities were well received.

“We’re happy for 10 years and are grateful for the support of the community,” she said. “While memberships have leveled off, our programs have increased dramatically.”

The four most popular programs, she said, are basketball, swim, day camp, and preschool.

Other activities scheduled for the day included chestnut roasting at the Elgin Tower Building; Letters to Santa at the Downtown Neighborhood Association; horse drawn carriage rides on Douglas Avenue; photos with Santa at Elgin Public House; and City of Elgin’s Tree Lighting Ceremony at Elgin City Hall.

Nearly two dozen businesses adorned their windows with holiday fixings.

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