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Ravenswood Neighbors Organizing Nights Of Holiday Lights To Bring ‘Something Positive’ To Dark Year

"I didn't want our community to miss out on anything else this year,” one of the event's organizers said.

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RAVENSWOOD — When Cassie Brehmer of Ravenswood was recovering from coronavirus recently, she’d often gaze out her window.

“All I wanted to do was go outside, and see something positive,” Brehmer said.

It’s in that spirit Brehmer is helping galvanize her neighbors to create something uplifting for the holidays. Ravenswood Light Up Nights invites residents to decorate their yards, windows and surrounding sidewalks for a three-night community light show.

The free, socially distanced event will kick off 5 p.m. Dec. 18 and last through Dec. 20. People will be able to travel around the neighborhood and see the decorations their neighbors have put up.

“After the drive-through holiday light shows quickly sold out, and after seeing the cost of them was unrealistic for some families, I didn’t want our community to miss out on anything else this year,” said Brehmer, a member of Ravenswood Neighbors Association, which is organizing the event.

The neighbors group serves the area within Ashland, Montrose, Damen and Lawrence avenues, but Brehmer said residents outside those boundaries are welcome to join in to decorate or visit the decorations.

People who are decorating are encouraged to create things like selfie stations in greenways, messages of encouragement on their front yards and themed window displays to be viewed from afar.

Neighbors planning to decorate should register with the association so their homes and selfie stations can be on a shared map. For more information on the event, go it its Facebook listing.

Each night, local businesses will also set up a socially distant welcome table where families can pick up free glow sticks and hot cocoa for kids. People will be able to buy specialty drinks and cocktails along with warm snacks.

Below are the locations and businesses hosting the tables during the three nights.

Dec. 18River Valley Farmer’s Table at Wilson Avenue will have eggnog lattes and specialty cocktails and snacks from local farms. 

Dec. 19Bayan Ko at Montrose Avenue will have free hot cocoa and warm doughnuts for the first 100 people. A takeout menu will be available.

Dec. 20Spoken Cafe at Montrose Avenue will have campfire lattes with smoked Oaxacan chile maple simple syrup, maple sugar and smoked sea salt; Louisiana boudin savory hand pies and warm sea salt chocolate chip cookies. 

Every year, Ravenswood residents put up intricate Halloween decorations. Brehmer, who reached out to her creative neighbors on the initiative, hopes people will use that same decorating talent to brighten up the last days of 2020. 

“It’s like ‘Hocus Pocus’ or ‘Halloweentown’ — especially on Hermitage — around Halloween. I hope those folks show up the same way for this as they do for that,” Brehmer said.

During Halloween, Brehmer and her landlord put a giant dementor from the “Harry Potter” franchise on the roof. They’re now redressing it as the Ghost of Christmas Future from “A Christmas Carol.”

“We’re also gonna have an Ebenezer Scrooge tombstone,” Brehmer said. “It’s a little bit dark maybe for this year, but we’re using what we have on hand.”

The association is asking people who attend to limit their walking party to only people who live in their home, to not congregate and to give at least 6 feet space to others as they walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the lights. 

Additionally, the association is still looking for someone who can portray Santa. They want him to bike or ride around in the back of a truck in the neighborhood to say “hi” to families during the event. 

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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