Web Extra! Full schedule of events

Santa Claus will make a visit to Oak Park this Friday as he arrives in style in his sleigh at 7 p.m. The arrival of the head honcho of Christmas gift giving is part of the kickoff of a holiday weekend event, Vintage Village Fayre, on The Avenue. Upon Santa’s arrival at Scoville Square, Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue, the Oak Park and River Forest High School A cappella choir will perform.

The event, the latest incarnation of the area’s annual holiday welcome, has been coordinated by a merchant committee chaired by Brandy Masoncup, co-owner, with her husband Eric, of Geppetto’s Toy Box, 730 Lake St.

The Avenue, a shopping district made up largely of locally and independently owned shops and restaurants, is focusing on charitable giving this season. The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry and Hephzibah Children’s Association are among the local non-profits benefiting from weekend events.

Through the weekend, any shopper who donates two non-perishable food items will receive a 10 percent discount on their purchase at any store.

In addition, Harrison Street’s Prodigy Glassworks will open a weekend spot on The Avenue and host a glass ornament activity. One dollar of the $15 cost of an ornament will go to Hephzibah.

The holiday event will host activities geared towards children. Magic Tree Bookstore, 141 N. Oak Park Ave., will host a vintage card making event from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, followed by Geppetto’s holiday candle decorating event for children from 2 to 4 p.m. Children will also be able to get their photo taken with the man in the red suit on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 5 p.m. at Maya del Sol, 144 S. Oak Park Ave.

Overall, shopping at these independently owned shops, Masoncup says, supports the community more than shopping at “big box stores.”

She noted her involvement in The 3/50 Project, a nationwide group that kick started this past March to support shopping at local independent stores. According to The 3/50 Project Web site, Masoncup said, 68 percent of sales stay in the community by shopping at an independent store, as opposed to 43 percent, from shopping at a “big box store.”

Masoncup said tradition and community inspired the organization of this event, noting that Christmas has been celebrated on “The Avenue” since 1887.

“We’re really about the community,” she said. “We feel we are the heart of Oak Park and want to keep the tradition of Christmas celebration on The Avenue.”

11 a.m. to noon Visit the Czech Republic through Scratch ‘n’ Sniff, 120 N. Marion, with Slavic folk musician Mazurka Wojciechowska

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Visit South Africa through Marion Street Gallery, 115 N. Marion, with African storyteller Velma Gladney

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Visit Brazil through The Book Table, 1045 Lake, with a Brazilian duo on flute and guitar

Noon to 1 p.m. Visit Ireland through Cosi, 1101 Lake, with the Delaney Dublineers

Noon to 1 p.m. Visit Greece through Carriage Flowers, 124 N. Marion, with harpist Sarah Thompson

Noon to 1 p.m. Visit England through Holiday Camera, 1047 Lake, with Windy City Wizard, a magician

12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Visit Scotland through The Competitive Foot, 102 N. Marion, with fiddler and Highland dancer Carol Cook

1 to 2 p.m. Visit Chile through Lido’s Caffe, 122 N. Marion, with music and storytelling by Nelson and Paola Sosa

1.30 to 3 p.m. Visit Denmark through Bruegger’s Bagels, 1118 Lake, with face painting by About Faces

1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Visit India through Khyber Pass, 1031 Lake, with belly dancing by Karen Hersh

1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Visit Italy through Bottega M, 106 N. Marion, with the European Ensemble of Steve Gibons

2 to 3 p.m. Visit Russia through Borders Books, 1144 Lake, with Franceska’s Marionettes

2 to 3 p.m. Visit Sweden through A Matter of Style, 114 N. Marion, with Scandinavian fiddlers Herring Three

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Visit Spain through Prairie Bread, 103 N. Marion, with flamenco guitarist and dancer Mehran and Maya

3 to 4 p.m. Visit the U.S.A. through the Visitors Center, 1010 Lake, with Avenue Kids, a string ensemble

3 to 4 p.m. Visit Pakistan through Oak Park Antiques, 125 N. Marion, with Arabic music by Bulbul Ensemble

3:30 to 5 p.m. Visit Germany through the UPS Store, 159 N. Marion, with David Lyons, a balloon artist

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Visit Switzerland through Barbara’s Bookstore, 1100 Lake, with musical storyteller Carol Weston

4 to 5 p.m. Visit Australia through Takara, 123 N. Marion, with Australian music by Chicago Didjeridu Chorus

A global fest for downtown Oak Park

Santa also is expected to be working his way west on Saturday toward the global holiday celebration known as WinterFest. Yes, he too must have spotted the flag signs on the storefronts along Marion and Lake streets.

Each one is a note of that shop’s part in the multicultural holiday fair that the Downtown Oak Park business district is hosting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The fun family-friendly lessons about diversity will include an international cookie walk, during which you’ll be able to go about collecting gourmet cookies and candy from the more than 40 participating businesses – with the purchase of a commemorative WinterFest cookie tin, which you’ll find for $5 at the Marion Street hospitality tent. That’s also where Trader Joe’s will be serving free hot chocolate and coffee.

In addition to entertainment in the common areas by carolers, a children’s choir and ice sculptors, some shops will have their own entertainers to give you a glimpse of the country on their window sign.

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