Safely Celebrating the Holidays in Freeport

There are several great holiday activities happening in Freeport, despite the ongoing pandemic. Find out how this town is safely celebrating this magical season.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, there are several exciting and safe ways to enjoy the holidays in Freeport this season, including a luminaria night on Dec. 20.

The holiday season is a welcome sight to many, especially during an ongoing pandemic, and the Greater Freeport Partnership is making sure the lights shine as bright as ever this year.

“We want to make sure people continue to see the positivity and the giving spirit that’s in Freeport every year, but especially this year,” says Nicole Haas, brand director with the Greater Freeport Partnership. “Community members in Freeport and the surrounding area have shown up in full force to support one another during hard times. We know this holiday season will be even more outstanding when we watch the community support each other.”

Listed below are several events and activities that will be happening in Freeport this holiday season. With conditions changing rapidly these days, check out greaterfreeport.com for any last-minute changes before heading out.

“We’re trying to make sure that everyone still has a great holiday experience this year while remaining safe,” Haas says.

Freeport Community Luminaria Night

Beautiful luminaria light up the streets at dusk on Dec. 20. Set along Stephenson Street and Lincoln Boulevard, near FHN, 1045 W. Stephenson St., rows of luminaria will brighten the dark sidewalks along quiet residential streets. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the peaceful setting by car or on foot.

This neighborhood tradition is a fun and safe way to enjoy the allure of the season on a calm winter night. These candle-lit luminaria are sure to create a fun and festive sight.

“It’s a very historic, beautiful drive,” Haas says. “It’s a beautiful sight to behold.”

Holiday Gift Show

An annual holiday gift show will take place on the main floor of the Stephenson County Visitors Center through Jan. 10, at 4596 U.S. Highway 20, in Freeport. It’ll feature fun and unique gifts from 16 local vendors selling items such as jewelry, art, holiday decor and bags.

American Garage Art, a screen-printing business; Abet Books, Comics and Games, a Freeport bookstore; and Garden Gate, which specializes in arts and crafts, are just a few of the local vendors making an appearance.

The entire visitors center is fully decked out in decorations, which are sure to put families in the Christmas spirit.

“We’re in awe of the amazing talent of our local vendors and all that they showcase for sale each year,” Haas says. “Not only are there great gift ideas, but you’ll find things to keep for yourself, too.”

The Holiday Gift Show takes place Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. noon-5 p.m.

Extended Small Business Saturday

The buy-local counterpart to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, was Nov. 28 this year, just after Thanksgiving. But why limit your local shopping to just one day?

It’s been a tough year for small businesses of all kinds, so Haas is encouraging everyone to support local businesses as much as possible this shopping season.

Dollars spent locally are more likely to stay in the community and support our neighbors’ own livelihoods.

Check out downtown shops like Luecke’s Antique Mall, which has three floors of antiques and collectibles. Nearby, Swank & Mercier offers a unique selection of jewelry and accessories. Duck into Abet Books and Games and search through a fleet of books, comics and board games.

“We have nine women’s and children’s boutiques, along with antique stores, hobby shops, collectibles and home decor,” Haas says. “Downtown businesses will continue to offer extended hours, as available, throughout the holiday season. Most of them have online stores available, or through their Facebook page, so if shoppers aren’t comfortable coming to the store in person, they can shop online and do a curbside pickup.”

The holidays often are celebrated around plates of wonderful food. Whether you are looking for a pre-made sweet treat or holiday feast to bring home to the family, or just want to take a night off from cooking, Haas also encourages everyone to support local restaurants with a multitude of pick-up and delivery options.

Letters to Santa

The jolly old man may be making fewer appearances this holiday season, but he’s still listening for children’s wishes all the same.

For those who can’t sit on Santa’s lap this year, FHN is helping children to share their Christmas lists with Santa by mail. Decorated letter templates are available all around Freeport, including at the Freeport Public Library and FHN.

Parents can also download a version of the template online at fhn.org/festivaloftrees.

Interested families must have their child’s letters submitted by Dec.12, which gives Santa plenty of time to respond before Christmas.

Community Festival of Trees

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without decorated Christmas trees, and this annual community festival has plenty of surprises planned.

Take in the magical sights of the holiday season by checking out rows of trees decorated by local service organizations, clubs and church groups at the Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas St. Prizes will be awarded to the best-decorated tree, as determined by popular vote. Voting continues until Dec. 12, and these festive trees are on display for the general public through Dec. 26.

Hero Tree

The large Hero Tree will light up the night once again in downtown Freeport. Located at the Stephenson County Courthouse, 15 N. Galena Ave., this large tree includes ornamental bulbs created by community members in tribute to military personnel, firefighters, police officers, first responders and other local heroes.

The bulbs include photos or other personal mementos.

This crowd-pleasing tree will be on display through Jan. 5.

Pictures with Santa for Pets

Proud dog and cat parents can celebrate the season with a 5-by-7-inch photo with Santa taken at the Friends Forever Humane Society, 966 W. Rudy Road. Santa will be on site on Dec. 12 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“You can take your dog or cat to the Humane Society to pose for a picture with Santa,” Haas says. “They’ll charge $10 for the photo, and all of the proceeds will benefit the animal shelter.”

This is just a sample size of what’s coming up this season. Event details, times and crowd size are still subject to change, based on current restrictions. For the latest, visit greaterfreeport.com.