Tree Lighting Ceremony Attendees Share Holiday Budget Thoughts

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Children admire a Christmas tree at the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Saturday. (Photo: Wendy Heise)

Photo Gallery: 2008 Tree Lighting Ceremony

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– A chilled crowd warmed up to the holiday season Saturday on the Village Green Saturday afternoon as Park Forest hosted its Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Students from Forest Trail Middle School sang Christmas and holiday songs, as members of the Rich East High School Band managed to keep valves from freezing as they played for the crowd. Many in attendance were from Park Forest, but residents from neighboring communities also showed up and shared a cup of hot chocolate, a few cookies, and waited for the arrival of Santa Claus.

Given the state of the ecomony, many in the crowd said they would be cutting back in some way this holiday season. Park Forest resident Tiffany Greer said she was not cutting down on the number of gifts, just the amount of money spent. She said she was "trying to find better sales."

One visitor said she was taking a creative approach to gift-giving this year. "We saved up all of our points from our Discover card, and we’re giving gift cards," said Dianna from Homewood.

"I’m buying the same amount of presents I bought last year, which was nothing!" laughed Will Steppes from Park Forest. "No, actually, with the economy the way it is, I’m sure that everybody’s spending a little bit less."

Gayle from Park Forest quickly agreed, "I’m cutting back."

Lisa Timberlake from Park Forest says she is "difinitely" cutting back. "I have four children, and everybody gets one big item. That’s it."

"Same here," agreed Katharene Davis of Chicago Heights. "I have one child, and she’s gonna pick one large gift. I’m trying not to spend over $200."

Park Forest resident Connie Manno said she probably will spend as much as she did last year, "We actually saved up early so that we would have enough for Christmas."

"Probably the same," said Roberta from Matteson. "I have not really cut back any."

One man, who asked not to be identified, shared a different story. The former Chicago Heights resident recently lost his home, "We’re probably not going to have much to spend since I lost my house two month ago and I lost my job and was laid off in October. So, it’s gonna be a rough one." The man said he had been a Chicago Heights resident for almost 50 years and worked for a major truck rental company and another company. He now lives with a friend in Park Forest.

Sharon Bellino says she and her husband will be spending "a little bit less." At least that’s their plan, "It starts out less, but then toward the end, that last week, it’s always more. We started out with good intentions."

Steger resident Crosby Smith said there’s more to the season than the number of gifts or price, "Still showing love, but doing it in a more economic way — you know, not as pricey things, and not, maybe, as many things."

Photo Gallery: 2008 Tree Lighting Ceremony