Announcing the 16th Annuak Snack with Santa & Holiday Sparkle


The Coal Country Chamber of Commerce has activities planned for Friday, December 5, and Saturday, December 6.    Holiday Sparkle Open House will run from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday, December 5, and from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday. All during this time, downtown eateries will have special discounts and participating businesses will have special offers.

During the Holiday Sparkle Open House hours, downtown businesses will be conducting sales and in-store promotions on both days.  Downtown Gillespie businesses are going to showcase Holiday Sparkle with colorful displays of Christmas themes and enticing specials of the season while the Coal Country Chamber of Commerce Choo Choo chugs up and down the downtown area. 

Holiday shoppers and visitors can ride the Choo Choo FREE and stop in the retail shops to enjoy the warmth and the bargains. The Coal Country Chamber of Commerce will host the Sixteenth Annual Snack with Santa at the Illinois Valley Center at 217 E. Walnut (next to the Gillespie Police station) from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 6.  Santa will arrive at 8:30 at the Illinois Valley Center for Snack with Santa.  He will stay until 11:30 to visit with each of the children attending and hear their special requests for Christmas.  During the Snack with Santa, a digital picture of the child with Santa will be taken in front of a Christmas background.  Clients and staff of the Illinois Valley Rehabilitation Center will do their usual beautiful decorating of the background.  Each child will receive a snack of Prairie Farms milk or juice and a treat from Casey’s General Store served by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary 4547.

Each child will be given a ticket for a free ride on the CCCC Choo Choo. There is a donation of $5 for Snack with Santa which includes the digital photo, the snack, a ticket to ride the Choo Choo, a goodie bag, and a letter mailed to him or her from

Across the street from Snack with Santa is the Illinois Valley Barn in the Garden Gift Shop where delightful crafts which are handmade by clients of Illinois Valley are displayed and offered at special prices for this event.  The shop will be open for business on December 6  from 9 a.m. until Noon. 

Ride the Coal Country Chamber Choo-Choo from one end of town to the other, and take the children to the Exotic Petting Zoo.  Besides the Alaskan Reindeer, full grown hump-backed camels, zebu, and water buffalo can be petted and fed by the children from 9 a.m. until noon in downtown Gillespie, next to UCB Bank, on Coal Country Chamber businesses who have sponsored this Snack with Santa and the Petting Zoo are 1st BancFinancial, Greg Craine, Agent; Amore’ Restaurant; Country Financial/Tina Olroyd, Agent; Dairy Queen of Gillespie; Dee-Dee’s Designs; Drew Ford; Farmers Insurance, Adam Tallman, Agent; FNB/Benld Banking Center; Louann Brown, Friends of the Gillespie Library; Furniture Rescue; Gina Gucciardo, CPA; Hampton Inn; Hebenstreit Apartments; Hick’s Maytag Appliance Center; Michelle’s Pharmacy of Gillespie; New Belongings Aquatic; Reid’s Service; Stan’s Barber Shop; State Farm/Jessica Ely, Agent; Sullivan Drug, Inc., UCB/Gillespie Banking Center.  Prairie Farms is donating the beverage for Snack with Santa and VFW Auxiliary ladies as well as Illinois Valley and Chamber volunteers make the opportunities for children possible. 

Holiday Sparkle, Snack with Santa, the CCCC Choo Choo, and the Exotic Petting Zoo will provide an opportunity for consumers to “Shop Local, Buy Local”, and for celebration in enjoying the holiday season in downtown Gillespie.

More information on Snack with Santa, the Choo Choo and other activities of the Coal Country Chamber of Commerce please visit our Facebook page,  leave a message at 217-710-5218 if you wish to contact the Chamber or email at