Holiday Sparkle event Saturday

Holiday Sparkle event Saturday

GILLESPIE (Nov. 30, 2017) – Coal Country Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Holiday Sparkle event Saturday, Dec. 2, in downtown Gillespie, with holiday open houses hosted by local merchants, an exotic animal petting zoo featuring a live Alaskan white reindeer, the 18th annual Snack with Santa and more.

“This Holiday Sparkle is steeped in small-town charm,” said CCCC Executive Director Mickey Robinson. “Our local businesses include gift shops that will host special holiday open houses during the Holiday Sparkle, some offering free refreshments and special offers on one-of-a-kind gift items for those hard to buy for individuals on your Christmas shopping list. It’s a great opportunity for local shoppers and out-of-town guests to see the kind of quality merchandise our CCCC members have to offer and get an early start on their holiday shopping.”

In addition, downtown restaurants will offer special holiday discounts. The downtown area will be festive with the huge planters each decorated for the holidays by a civic, church or school group. The Illinois Coal Museum at Gillespie will have extended hours for visitors’ viewing. The Downtown Gillespie Beautification Committee will have a cookie sale, popcorn and cotton candy, as well as large Christmas-themed photo booths for holiday photos, with a DJ playing holiday music.

Snack with Santa will run from 8:30-11:30 a.m. at Illinois Valley Rehabilitation Center. Santa will visit with each child, and hear their special requests for Christmas. Digital photos of each child with Santa will be taken in front of a Christmas background decorated by clients and staff of the center. Each child will also be served milk or juice provided by Prairie Farms Dairy and a treat served by volunteers.

Illinois Valley’s Barn in the Garden Gift Shop, located across the street from the Rehabilitation Center, will be open from 9 a.m. to noon, selling gift items and holiday decorations hand-crafted by clients of the center.

Throughout the morning, the CCCC choo choo will offer free rides along Macoupin Street from Gillespie Civic Center to the Canna Theatre and to United Community Bank, where an exotic animal petting zoo will be located. “In addition to camels, water buffalo and other exotic animals that the children can feed and pet, the petting zoo will feature a full-grown Alaskan white reindeer like the ones Santa uses to pull his sleigh on Christmas Eve,” said Margie Brill, CCCC president. “We wouldn’t suggest that our reindeer can fly, but it is Christmastime, so who knows?”

The historic Canna Theatre will present two movies: How the Grinch Stole Christmas at 10:30 a.m. and A Christmas Story at 2 p.m. The morning movie is only 26 minutes long, so they will show it continuously for two shows, for the price of canned food for the caring center. The theatre will also show It’s a Wonderful Life on both Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m., with $5 admission and free hot cocoa.

Members of the Gillespie High School choirs will stroll the business district and Snack with Santa, performing Christmas melodies.

Civic organizations and churches that will have booths and tables scattered throughout the business district include the Black Diamond Days Committee serving coffee; Illinois Valley with information on their services; Joyful Angels accepting unwrapped new toys, games, mittens and gloves; the Knights of Columbus serving hot dogs; the Soccer Association selling burgers and drinks; Zion Lutheran Church offering homemade pies and noodles, as well as hanging towels; and Macoupin County Public Health Department conducting the Gillespie Reindeer Dash 5K. Also participating will be the Macoupin Military Support Group and United Methodist Church of Gillespie; in addition, Shepherd’s Closet will have special prices on all items in their store.

For more information, visit or the Chamber’s Facebook page, call (217) 710-5218 or email