Belleville will usher in the Christmas season with its annual Santa Parade at 10 a.m. Friday.
Welcome Santa to town in the largest holiday parade in Southern Illinois as 100 floats, marching bands, dance groups, Fredbird and other colorful units make their way down Main Street from 17th Street through the Public Square to Forest Avenue.
Afterward, Santa will take up residence in his familiar home on the Square from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Be sure to come back at 6 p.m. Friday and join your neighbors for a community sing-along to celebrate the annual lighting of the Public Square fountain. Caroling and free cookies and hot cocoa -- it doesn't get any better than that. Awards will be announced for the top three floats in the parade.
Hours for Santa's House the rest of the season are 6-8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday through Dec. 19; Saturdays and Dec. 20-23, noon-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.; Sundays through Dec. 15, noon-5 p.m.; Dec. 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Optimist Club of Belleville volunteers will provide hot cocoa and cookies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
It's all sponored by Santa's helper, the Optimist Club of Belleville.
An Old-Fashioned Illuminated Christmas Parade will lead Santa Claus into O'Fallon at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The 20th annual parade, sponsored by O'Fallon VFW Post 803 and the O'Fallon Homecoming Association, starts at Community Park, heads east on Seventh Street, then north on Lincoln to First Street, ending in front of the VFW. The judges stand and the announcer will be in the Fire Department offices lot across from the old City Hall.
Santa will be in Santa's Hut at First and Vine after the parade and from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 7, 14 and 21 and noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 24. Photos with Santa are free. It's sponsored by Downtown O'Fallon Inc.
The theme of Friday's Lighted Christmas Parade in Highland is "Visions of Sugar Plums," so you can expect to see floats decorated with candy canes, gumdrops and all things sweet.
The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at Highland Upper Elementary School, travels up Lindenthal to Washington Street and ends at the downtown square.
Santa will turn on the thousands of lights that illuminate the square and all of the houses in his North Pole Village. Live reindeer are also part of the celebration.
Beginning Saturday, Santa will be available to hear Christmas wishes at his house on the square from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
The Highland High School Madrigals and the Highland Muny "Santa" Band will fill the air with the sounds of Christmas. There will be free carriage rides and free hot chocolate, courtesy of the Highland Lions Club, and kettle corn available for purchase.
The annual Christmas parade, sponsored by the Breese Chamber of Commerce, is at 6 p.m. Saturday. The parade will move down Main Street to Northside Park. Santa will be there to visit with children. A fireworks display will follow the parade.
Sparta will welcome Santa Claus with a bang on Saturday. The Winter Wonderland Christmas Parade will begin at 6 p.m. at Sparta High School. It will head south on St. Louis, east on Broadway, north on Market, west on Osborn and back to the high school on Maple Street.
After the parade, you can see the crowning fo the queen at Sparta VFW and watch fireworks at 8 p.m. Free chili will be provided at the Sparta VFW for a donation.
The Great Ladies of Waterloo (GLOW) will present the annual lighted Christmas Parade at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The parade starts at Gibault Catholic High School and follows the Porta Westfalica Route to downtown Waterloo.
Also, check out the Waterloo Christmas Walk from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, downtown Waterloo. Visit the quaint specialty shops in the historic area of town, and enjoy live music, visit with Santa and take a free carriage ride. Grafton