Folks from the Fifth Ward, the Second Ward and even outside Evanston came bundled up in their scarves and bubble jackets to the corner of Church Street and Dodge Avenue on Friday as the Central Evanston Business Association’s first holiday festival and tree lighting ceremony made it a memorable night.

Central Evanston Business Association hosted its first annual holiday festival and tree lighting ceremony at Church Street and Dodge Avenue. Credit: Gina Castro

CEBA leaders spoke about the progress they’ve made for the businesses and community in the Fifth Ward, which just might be the heart of the city, said Clarence Weaver, CEBA member and co-owner of C&W Market and Ice Cream Parlor.

“This is all about community,” said Weaver. “From what I understand, if you take a line from each end of the city and come towards the middle, you will end up right here on Church and Dodge.”

Several elected officials made an appearance. Former Fifth Ward Council Member Delores Holmes came to celebrate with her daughter Kim Holmes-Ross, who is Evanston Cradle to Career’s interim executive director and community engagement director.

“It’s nice to be able to live long enough to see dreams come true,” Delores Holmes said. “I’m so happy that when you leave [office] … other people pick up the torch and run with it, like Robin [Rue Simmons] picked it up and made a little bit more progress, and now Bobby [Burns, current Fifth Ward council member] has it. I am really excited about that.”

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Moments before the tree lighting, Burns directed the crowd to channel the holiday spirit.

“I want you just to think about a time in your life where you were incredibly grateful,” Burns began. “It can be here today; it can be another time. Once you have it in your mind, I want you to hold on to it and try to enhance it. Try to really pay attention to it and focus on it, and then sit with it for a little bit. That’s what the holiday spirit is. Let’s try to hold onto that for as long as we can.”

And at the count of three, the community tree at Church and Dodge lit up the night.

The Evanston Township High School choir finished the tree lighting ceremony with Silent Night.

The choir and orchestra are raising money for a trip to the city of jazz and blues, New Orleans. Sign up to help them get there.

Gina Castro

Gina Castro is a Racial Justice fellow for the Evanston RoundTable. She recently earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she studied investigative...

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