Kickoff to Christmas returns to Payson

Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 5:05 PM CST
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PAYSON, Ill. (WGEM) - Payson will look a little more festive following its annual Kickoff to Christmas Sunday afternoon.

Returning for its second year, the event began with Santa Claus arriving in town with an escort from the Payson Fire Department.

As kids told Santa their Christmas wishes, Liz Bentley performed Christmas songs on stage while vendors provided coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and more.

Following the performance, there was an ugly sweater contest, a Christmas story reading and the lighting of the Christmas tree and park.

Kickoff to Christmas coordinator Kyle Beckman said the celebration was a fun way to bring the community together for some holiday fun.

“Decades ago, we used to let people decorate the tree and that went away for a while, so we’re trying to just fund more fun and engaging ways to keep people around and so this is the second year that we’re really going all out with it,” said Beckman.

In addition to the fun, Beckman said the event also offered a chance to help out others in the community.

“It’s all free entertainment, we just asked that everyone bring a donation to support the surrounding communities,” said Beckman.

Both Toys for Tots and a local food bank were collecting donations.

Beckman said he hopes to bring the event back even bigger and better next year.

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