Frosty Fest enjoyed by families and friends despite cold temps


Photo by Jetzelli Hernandez

A bundled-up artist works on an ice sculpture at Frosty Fest on December 3.

By Jetzelli Hernandez, Reporter

Frosty Fest,  an annual winter festival, made its return Dec. 3, the first Saturday of December in downtown West Chicago. 

Frosty Fest celebrates coming together as a community, and offers residents of West Chicago and the surrounding area a chance to enjoy a fun time together. Each year, the event starts off with the Frost Fest procession, followed by the tree lighting ceremony. Later, the City of West Chicago, along with support from other area groups, such as the West Chicago Park District, offered several activities for everyone to enjoy, including  face painting, coloring, candy cane bead crafts, horse-drawn trolley rides, alpaca feeding, a giant snow globe photo-op, and Frosty Fest scavenger hunt.

Volunteers from the high school’s National Honor Society dressed up as characters for the parade. (Photo by Jetzelli Hernandez)

The event “brings the community together even when it’s chilly out, but that way, it gets the season going. It’s kind of a nice little kick off to the season,” said City of West Chicago Special Events Coordinator Nicolette Stefan.

Several students from West Chicago Community High School’s National Honor Society volunteered at the event. Some oversaw games and activities, and others dressed-up in costume and walked in the parade.

“I thought it would be good to bring joy to the community by dressing up and having fun. It’s great so far and it’s been a good turnout,” said junior Payton Arredondo, who dressed up as a gingerbread man.

Santa Claus also made an appearance at the event, and children were able to meet with him to share their wish lists for Christmas.

“The fact there’s a lot going on, you know, there’s Mr. and Mrs. Clause, the tree lighting…This year, we brought in a lot of new aspects. So just different activities throughout the town and I think it kinda adds a little variety for people,” said Stefan. 

The traditional 5K was canceled this year due to safety procedures. A large race and parade event would both involve mobile participants and multiple entry points, and so the event coordinators decided to cancel one of the two.

“They weren’t able to safely make sure that [the 5K] can go on in terms of there’s a lot of people in the streets running, and there would be a lot of intersections that would need to be blocked, so we are gonna try and come up with, hopefully, something different for future years so we can still do something,” said Stefan.

However, the Frosty Fest scavenger hunt was added to this year’s events. Participants in the scavenger hunt searched for snowflakes on the ground and window decals, as well the Frosty Fest map, to answer questions while they took in the event. Questions encouraged attendees to check out all aspects of the festival, and ranged from “Who handled the hot cocoa and popcorn station? How many presents do you spot in the window next to the building by the fountain (124 Main)? Who sponsored the snow globe?” and “Who performed?” 

The decorated Christmas tree in the heart of downtown West Chicago serves as a centerpiece for the festival. (Photo by Jetzelli Hernandez)

“Because the 5K got canceled, I put together the fun walk in place of it to kind of try and bring people together and do a little something different. Even though it’s not running, and it’s not obviously the same distance, it’s still something. A little scavenger hunt, something fun, a little activity for people to do together,” said Stefan.

Parents and families enjoyed the new addition to Frosty Fest.

“It’s something fun to do in our community. There’s a lot of activities for the kids. I have three boys, so I brought them to explore,” said Kaidy Wdowiarz, a community member.

Since Frosty Fest is a winter event, the weather can get chilly outside. Event coordinators and volunteers recommend people attending wear warm outfits for the event.

“With coats, gloves, and hats and there’s hot cocoa down the street,” said Rita Balgeman, a local resident.

The West Chicago Rotary Club provides hot chocolate with marshmallows to keep attendees warm so they can enjoy the event and the activities. 

Before leaving the festival, participants were sure to take pictures with the members in costumes, like gingerbread man, penguin, and a snowman.

“Super fun. It’s my first Frosty Fest, and it’s the best way to experience it. It’s a lil’ chilly, but we are dancing to stay warm,” said local resident Molly Beckdean.