ROSEMONT, Ill. — People say the holiday lights in Rosemont are so over the top that the stretch of I-190 approaching River Road seems to glow.
The village begins working on its winter wonderland months in advance. By Sept. 1, 40-foot holiday storage trailers are unloaded with enough toy soldiers, snowmen and holiday bells to decorate entire blocks.
“It is a lot of work, lot of work," Rosemont public works director, Michael Riamondi, said. "We probably have two million light bulbs and over 50,000 strands. It's crazy."
Mayor Brad Stephens said it began with his dad, who served as mayor of Rosemont for over half a century.
"My dad was a huge fan of Christmas," Stephens said. "He decided we wanted to do it better. There was this company that manufactured holiday decorations, and we literally bought the entire booth out."
Wrapping every last branch with lights takes 13 weeks of work at nauseating heights and finger-numbing temperatures. Those who put up the lights said it's a sacrifice they believe is worth it for two twinkling weeks of magic.
"Christmas is the time of year that you hope that people treat each other like human beings like we should be doing," Stephens said. "That's important. That's really important."
If you want to get in on the action, the Village of Rosemont throws the switch on at Parkway Bank Park at 5501 Park Place in the entertainment district at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23. Expect Santa, sleigh rides and an ice rink.
On Sunday, Nov. 25, Stephens lights the Christmas tree in Stephens Park. That will be a family-friendly event with a special Christmas village, a live petting zoo and manger. For more information, visit Rosemont's website.