Santa welcomed drive-by and pedestrian visitors from a safe distance. Photo by Heidi Randhava

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Santa came to Fountain Square on Dec. 12., and he brought a few friends. A jolly, bespectacled St. Nick in a red suit and snowy white beard stood near the intersection of Davis Street and Orrington Avenue, greeting families as they drove north along Orrington Avenue.

Christmas music, dancing elves and a giant gingerbread man made it surprisingly easy to ignore the cold drizzle and get into the holiday spirit from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

The event, hosted by Downtown Evanston, required social distancing and masks for both drive by participants and pedestrians.

“We have been trying to stay home as much as possible, but want to get in the holiday spirit for our son. I was Googling things to do … and the event at Fountain Square was perfect. We loved helping to spread holiday cheer,” said Lindsay Hill. “The looks on the children’s faces as they waved to Santa were priceless. My husband gives a ton of credit to the event staff, who were energetic despite the weather,” said Ms. Hill, who walked by with her husband, Jeff Hill, and their son James, who took it all in from his stroller.

This coming Saturday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m., Downtown Evanston along with Autobarn Evanston, Amita Health, Byline Bank, The Davis Theater and School District 65 will host “Evanston Loves Movie Night,” featuring “Home Alone,” a family friendly drive-in movie, at Autobarn Place, behind the Howard Street (Target/Best Buy/Jewel) shopping plaza. The La Cocinita Food Truck will be on site.

Proceeds of the event will benefit the Rotary Clubs of Evanston to distribute to local nonprofits that have not been able to fundraise through events and campaigns due to the pandemic. Each movie ticket is $30 and is good for one vehicle with up to six people. Moviegoers should enter from Howard Street, where they can pick up pre-ordered meals, follow the access road at the west end of the plaza (closest to Jewel), turn right before getting to Vineyard Church and continue to 2201 Howard St. Bathrooms will be available inside the service center. Everyone should bring blankets, as drivers will be asked to turn off the car engines.