With snow gently falling, and a lovely white blanket already on the ground, Tinley Park had a perfect setting for its annual holiday market. Walking into the main tent, one passed carriage rides ready to take families "dashing through the snow." Through the weekend of Friday, Dec 3, Tinley Park residents visited the Metra train station on Oak Park Avenue to be a part of .
The events kicked off with . Santa Claus also arrived in Tinley on Saturday, bringing with him Mrs. Claus and lots of goodies for the children who came to visit him. There were also some rides for the kids: a little holiday train and Ferris wheel that set up shop in part of the parking lot. Despite the cold, the lines were always long.
Just to show how dedicated to its residents our town is, all of the were completely free. This was due to the fact that most everyone working there was a volunteer, including some high school students. Another heartwarming feature was the Together We Cope van parked outside of the café, collecting food and toys for needy families.
While I visited, I ran into the chair of the event, Ms. Reta Brudd, the Community Resources Commissioner, who told me a bit about the history of the event. Apparently, this is only the second year in which the market and Santa's visit have taken place on the same day. The market also moved from city hall to the train station after it was built, just six years ago. Despite the different forms they have taken over the years, town sponsored holiday festivities in Tinley Park in general have been going on twenty years.
Once inside the market tent, the atmosphere became very warm and homey. There were heaters inside, which kept shoppers warm while they browsed the various stalls. A variety of vendors attended the market, some very well known. Ed and Joe's, Ashford House, and Sam and Jake's ice cream parlor sold delicious pizza, soup, chili, and candy. Small stands sold cups of hot chocolate and roasted nuts. There were also a few craft stalls selling homemade fleece hats and blankets, ornaments, and jewelry.
Two booths especially caught my eye. The first was a memorial to Illinois residents who had been killed in Iraq. It was sobering to see many people stop and recognize the brave men and women from their state who had given their lives trying to spread freedom and democracy. The second booth was a station where children could write letters to soldiers currently serving in the Middle East. The table was always filled, as kids and adults alike wrote notes and colored pictures wishing service men and women a happy holiday even though they
Entertainment inside the market tent was provided by many different sources. Andrew High School's Chamber Choir performed on Sunday Dec 5, singing selections from their upcoming holiday concert as well as a packet of classic Christmas songs. When I attended on Saturday, I saw a band called Jeanie B! whose . They certainly seemed to have a good time, as one of the movements to her songs involved popping a large roll of bubble wrap, and another involved having a "snowball fight" with white shower scrunchies. The next act to come up was students from TNT Extreme Dance ranging from age eight to graduating seniors. They entertained the audience with dances to popular holiday songs as well as some new upbeat ones from current artists.
"We just want the people of the town to love it," Ms. Brudd told me of the holiday market.
From the crowd of people in the market tent, to the long line of children waiting to visit Santa, her goal for the festivities seemed to have been fulfilled.