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Gurnee Mills plans events to celebrate holiday season

GURNEE – Gurnee Mills has announced many merry activities for Lake County families to enjoy this holiday season.

Kicking off the flurry of events is Santa’s Arrival Parade from 6 to 7 p.m. Nov. 9, beginning at Entry A and ending in the Dining Pavilion. As Santa navigates through the mall on an ATV, attendees can enjoy hot chocolate, milk and cookies, and a reading of "’Twas the Night Before Christmas," by the big guy himself.

Beginning at 10 a.m. Nov. 10, children and their families can visit the Simon Santa Photo Experience at Gurnee Mills. Children can whisper wishes and capture photo memories with Santa through Dec. 24 in the Macy’s Wing Dining Pavilion. New to this year, families can also upgrade their package and receive a text message or phone call from Santa. Families are encouraged to check www.gurneemills.com for a complete list of dates and times, or families can save time and avoid the line with Santa by Appointment. Families may reserve their time with Santa online at http://simonsanta.com.

• Caring Santa" Gurnee Mills and other Simon malls nationwide provide children with special needs and their families a sensory-friendly Caring Santa event in partnership with Autism Speaks. Caring Santa will occur from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Dec. 3 before the mall opens. Guests can register at www.simon.com/caringsanta.

• Pet Photo Night with Santa: The popular Pet Photo Night with Santa will occur from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10. Pet Photo nights are hosted after regular mall closing and the set gets an extensive cleaning after the event to remove any potential risk to allergy sufferers.

• Giving Tree with Catholic Charities: Giving Trees, bearing ornaments with holiday wish lists from local children in need, will be on display Nov. 9 to Dec. 15. Guests wishing to buy a gift for a Giving Tree child can return their unwrapped gifts to the Gurnee Mills Management Office for pickup by Catholic Charities.

• 102.3 XLC Wishes for Santa: As the first holiday collaboration between Gurnee Mills and WXLC, Lake County children will have the opportunity to write letters to Santa and share their holiday wishes. Beginning Nov. 9, and running through Dec. 16 near Dine-O-Rama and Entry J, children can share their Christmas wishes by popping their letters into Santa’s mailbox.

• Gift Wrap for a Cause: Gurnee Mills’ holiday gift wrapping service has proved to be a major annual fundraiser for local organizations, including Scout troops, charities and school clubs. Beginning Dec. 1 through Dec. 24, near Entry A, shoppers can take advantage of having their gifts wrapped while knowing they are also helping local community organizations.

• North Chicago School District 187 Holiday Art Display: A tradition that began last holiday season and continues for this holiday season, shoppers can enjoy the artistic stylings of District 187’s elementary students’ artwork. From Dec. 1 until Dec. 31, the Forrestal Elementary students’ art works will be on display in Center Court, near Entry F.

• 102.3 XLC All Day Holiday Celebration: From 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 8, 102.3 XLC and Gurnee Mills will join forces with The Salvation Army’s Toys for Tots program. Taking place in the Show Court, near Entry G, the All Day Holiday Celebration will kick off with a toy drive hosted by XLC’s Jimmy and Lisa, and continue with seasonal entertainment, including a Caroling for Cash choir competition from which one high school will receive $1,000, courtesy of Gurnee Mills, to help support its choir. There’ll also be an official tree lighting with Lake County officials.

• Menorah Lighting: In celebration of Hanukkah, at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14, there will be a Menorah Lighting in the Show Court. This year’s Menorah will be 8 feet high and made of LEGOs.

For a complete list of extended holiday hours and special seasonal programming, visit www.gurneemills.com.

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