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Sunday, March 3, 2024

‘Gingerbread Men’ dot downtown Naperville landscape with color and whimsy


Fun-loving families filled the sidewalks throughout downtown Naperville Friday evening to see the latest additions to the city’s landscape.

Find Mr. Chamberville, a glistening mosaic work of art by Janet Mamon, near Dean’s Fine Clothing along Main Street.

At 6PM one sculpture after the another, each in the shape of a traditional “cut-out” of a gingerbread man, was unveiled to the accompaniment of cheers, live music and 300,000 twinkling lights.  Each sculpture is decorated to promote a different theme, sponsored by a different local enterprise.

It also seemed fitting that the exhibit featuring gingerbread men would be introduced during the weekend of the Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon when spectators will be lending encouraging words, “Run, run as fast as you can,” to race participants.  Some 3,500 runners are registered to begin the half marathon and 26.2 marathon at 7AM Sun., Nov. 10. The race begins and ends at North Central College.

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In between the start and finish, downtown Naperville merchants will welcome race enthusiasts to the scene, now enhanced by attractive art, including one sculpture designed by Naperville artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn named “Art.”

Remember Veterans Day and Thanksgiving

What’s more, every November this nation sets aside time to be grateful, remembering Veterans at 11AM on Nov. 11 for their sacrifices and service, and giving thanks for the bounty that is afforded residents in this remarkable city on Thanksgiving Day.

Always mindful of freedom of expression and to assemble, this new event offers a time to appreciate the art and the creative hands that participated in the colorful and whimsical exhibit hosted by the Downtown Naperville Alliance. This seasonal display is one of many throughout the year designed to attract visitors to one of the most vibrant shopping and dining destinations in the suburbs.

Kids will be kids

This little number, “Cookie, Cut & Run,” by Naperville artist Marilyn Dale is sponsored by the Kitchen Master.

“I want to see another Gingerbread Man!” said an enthusiastic Charlotte Coyne, as she toured the exhibit with her parents, Kim and Kevin Coyne.

The youngster’s eagerness to see all of the creations brought back memories of the resounding chant from the traditional story about a gingerbread man who came to life and jumped off the cookie sheet to flea the enjoyment of the little old woman who had baked her tasty treat. During the chase in which the old woman, a pig, a cow and a horse ran in hurried pursuit, the Gingerbread Man cried, “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.”

Unlike the fairy tale, visitors to downtown Naperville can catch a glimpse of 25 Gingerbread Men! Catch them all from now through Thanksgiving weekend when the Little Friends Parade of Lights will be another reason to join families and friends in downtown at 5PM Sun., Dec. 1, to experience another local tradition.

The exhibit will remain on display throughout the holiday season.

After visiting the exhibit in person, take a moment to vote for your favorite design. The top three vote-getters will be recognized by the Downtown Naperville Alliance.

Cock Robin gets PN’s vote!

Cock Robin, Ice Cream Server, greets visitors from his perch in front of the Pre-Emption House at Naper Settlement.

PN is particularly partial to the gingerbread man sponsored by Naper Settlement that comes with a history to shed light on the city’s longest-running independently-owned ice cream enterprise known for its “One in a Million” milk shakes and square dips of sherbet.

The sculpture is designed wearing a uniform that includes a bright red visor and apron, adorned with the memorable Cock Robin logo of a jaunty robin wearing a top hat and tuxedo.

The concept for the sculpture was developed by Naperville North High School senior Ethan Cherry, who is president of the high school’s National Art Honor Society. The sculpture was completed by members of the Honor Society under his direction.

Thanks for supporting the arts! Thanks also for shopping and dining locally whenever possible!

Editor’s Note: The photos don’t always show the sculptures in their best light. Visit them personally by day and by night before you make your choice! There’s plenty of time to cast a vote.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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