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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Hyde Park Holly-Day Returns This Weekend With Soul Santa, Reindeer, Performances And More

The sixth festival is all day Saturday, with most activities held along 53rd Street.

An artist with Nadeau's Ice Sculptures creates a snowman sculpture out of ice during a demonstration at the 2021 Hyde Park Holly-Day.
Sophia Castro
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HYDE PARK — Families can take photos with Soul Santa, watch local dancers perform, search Hyde Park for ice sculptures and much more at a free festival this weekend.

The sixth Hyde Park Holly-Day is 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, with most activities held along 53rd Street and at the Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue West.

The day’s lineup includes:

  • An ice carving demonstration by artists from Nadeau Ice Sculptures 10 a.m.-noon at 5235 S. Harper Court, which coincides with an ice sculpture stroll taking place all day along 53rd Street from Woodlawn to Lake Park avenues.
  • Free family photos with Soul Santa and Mrs. Claus 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Promontory. The photos are popular with attendees, so the line may be closed before the scheduled end, organizers said.
  • A holiday book giveaway organized by literacy nonprofit Brown Books and Paintbrushes 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Promontory.
  • Dance performances by the Hyde Park School of Dance at 1:30 p.m. and the Kenwood School of Ballet at 1:45 p.m. at the Promontory.
  • An opportunity to meet two live reindeer 4-6 p.m. at the Hyde Park Shopping Center’s courtyard, 1526 E. 55th St.

For a full schedule of activities, click here.

This year marks “the return to in-person activities we weren’t able to do last year,” and is the event’s first full lineup of activities since the COVID-19 pandemic started, said Amy Srodon, director of marketing communications for the University of Chicago’s commercial real estate arm.

“We’ll bring back Soul Santa and Mrs. Claus, the costumed characters that go to eight local businesses … dance performances and crafts,” Srodon said.

Organizers will also track attendance for the first time this year, Srodon said. At the last regular Hyde Park Holly-Day in 2019, more than 800 people took photos with Soul Santa, she said.

“It’s definitely a popular event, and we can see that it brings a ton of people to the Hyde Park neighborhood” — many of whom patronize local businesses as they visit the festival, Srodon said.

The event also features a custom filter for pictures, which requires an Instagram account to use.

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