Vermilion is ready to launch into the holiday season with events this weekend and next.
The festivities kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday, when Santa rides into town via an icebreaker on the Vermilion River.
It's a long-time tradition, Main Street Vermilion president Eileen Bulan said, and draws crowds even in bitter weather.
"We have a lot of kids come down for Santa," she said. "It brings a lot of people into town."
Santa will be available for visits from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. each Saturday at his house in Exchange Park.
This weekend also marks the Annual Harbour Town 1837 Christmas Walk. Visitors can ride through downtown on horse-drawn trolleys on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The Mayor will also light the Community Christmas Tree at 7 p.m. Saturday at Victory Park.
The Vermilion Arts Guild plans to host the opening of its Winter Holiday Show and Sale from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 12-4 p.m. Sunday at the Main Street Vermilion building.
Pamela Reese, the show's chair, said the show will feature original work from 22 local artists this year, including work in watercolor, oils, wood and beaded jewelry.
"It's a good chance to meet the artists, because most of them will be here on Saturday," she said.
The show will continue Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 23.
Dec. 6 is also a big day for Vermilion, Bulan said. At 11 a.m., an icebreaker will bring fresh-cut Christmas trees to McGarvey's Landing.
"You can actually buy your Christmas tree off the ship," Bulan said.
The day will also include live music, refreshments and lunch with Santa.
One event planned to promote downtown businesses is the 12 Shops of Christmas, sponsored by Main Street Vermilion. People who visit 12 businesses during the weekend of Dec. 12-14 and get a card stamped are eligible for a raffle to be drawn Dec. 15.
"By that time, people are pretty well tired of the malls, so they like to come downtown," Bulan said. "We have a lot of neat things and neat stores, and we hope you try them."