Quad Cities villages and towns share, celebrate holidays

Merco Holiday guide
Girls will once again dress as Sweden’s Saint Lucia, Queen of Light, during Bishop Hill’s annual Lucia Nights celebration on Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, in that historic Henry County town. CREDIT ENJOY ILLINOIS

Quad Cities communities are continuing to light up the six-county region with holiday celebrations and spreading the word so that others can join the fun.

Take, for example, Mercer County, Illinois, where Visit Merco has produced its first-ever Visit Merco Holiday Guide.

Subtitled, “Your official guide to all things holly & jolly this Christmas in Merco,” the guide is designed to help visitors make the most of the holiday season. “Inside you’ll find plenty of Santa sightings, fun for all ages, shopping intel, ways to give make and more!”

The idea for Visit Merco was born in 2020 as part of the community-wide strategic planning and visioning effort, the organization’s website says. “These leaders realized that in order for Mercer County to grow and prosper, attention needed to be paid to marketing and tourism.”

The organization and website were soon launched and, then, in 2022, Visit Merco became an affiliate of Visit Quad Cities, the region’s certified convention and visitors bureau. 

Visit Merco’s 14-page printable flyer includes listings of holiday events organized by Mercer county villages and cities which began earlier this month. 

Also included are holiday offerings and treats from fraternal organizations, YMCAs, libraries, firehouses, angel trees, nursing home caroling opportunities, a holiday pop-up store, workshops, free family movie nights, ways to give with a purpose, and more.

Among the upcoming Mercer County events are:

  • Windsor Wonderful: 5-8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Village of New Windsor. You’ll find music, a raffle, chili supper, festive food, and Santa and Mrs. Claus at 414 W. Walnut St. Wonderland maps are available at NWR&R Ladies Alliance Facebook Page.
  • Santa in New Boston: 10-4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, Illinois Street, New Boston. Kids can visit with Mr. & Mrs. Claus, pose for photos, decorate ornaments and enjoy cookies, hot chocolates and holiday gift bags. Santa’s Mailbox also will be located with the community tree in Fish Fry Park.
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Matherville! 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Dec. 17, Matherville Fire Station, 410 Second St., Matherville.
  • Santa Claus Drive-thru: 4-6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17. Hosted by the Eagles Nest and Mercer County Elves at 1105 Short St., Keithsburg. “Once you’ve arrived at Santa’s destination you can deliver your letter to Santa, take a picture and leave with a gift made from Santa’s Elves then drive on your merry way.”
  • FBC Family Movie & Pizza Night,  5-7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 18, First Baptist Church of Aledo. Join us in the sanctuary for the film “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Dress comfy. Bring blankets, pillows, lawn chairs and bring a movie snack, treat or candy to share.

Meanwhile, over in Henry County, Illinois, Geneseo residents also are preparing to host locals and visitors at two traditional Christmas affairs this weekend:

  • Geneseo Victorian Walk Throwback: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, downtown Geneseo. The 2022 theme is Victorian Walk Throwback, a nod to the event’s 1986 beginning. The fun kicks off with Geneseo Jingle Run 5K at 8:30 a.m. Shop and dine all day long and join the walk’s Lighted Parade at 5 p.m.  
  • Bishop Hill’s annual Lucia Nights: 6-9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9-Saturday, Dec. 10. This Swedish tradition is based on a legend of Saint Lucia, Queen of Light. During a famine in Sweden, on the longest and darkest night of the year, Lucia appeared bringing with her a ship laden with food. Each year, girls carry a tray of cookies while dressed in a white robe and wearing a crown of candles. Buildings also will be lit with a single candle in each window, and sidewalks will be illuminated. Special Christmas gifts will also be on sale and other attractions will include free musical performances. 

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