During the month of December, Champaign-Urbana transforms from the normal busy and crowded college town into a winter wonderland. The stores that line Green Street are decked with holiday cheer, and the students and locals that enter them are just as spirited. Whether they have just finished a peppermint hot chocolate, their last final for the semester, or a viewing of The Nutcracker at the Krannert Center, students and locals can easily find a plethora of holiday related activities to do during the winter months.
The best part about the holidays, and holiday themed activities is that the whole family can enjoy them together. One of these family oriented exhibitions in Champaign-Urbana is the Snow Globe at the Orpheum Children’s Museum.
The Orpheum is a non-profit organization that hopes to inspire and educate children about science and the arts through hands on experiences. Located in downtown Champaign, the Orpheum is a staple for families from the surrounding areas.
The building that houses the Orpheum is very special to downtown Champaign. In 1914, the building opened as a moving picture house before closing in 1986. However, in 1989, the local Preservation and Conservation Association began a campaign to save the building. The museum was opened in 1994 and has undergone a considerable amount of renovations since. The auditorium, where the Snow Globe exhibit is located, was restored with the help of a grant from the National Park Service.
The Snow Globe has occupied the Theater for six years and is one of the museum’s biggest events. It attracts hundreds of people during the brief time that it is open to the public. This is because the Snow Globe exhibit caters to all ages, offering children and adults a plethora of things to do.
On November 28 at 6 p.m. the doors to the Snow Globe exhibit will open for the first time this year. Before the doors open, guests are invited to celebrate the beginning of winter at The Parade of Lights.
This year marks the 15th annual Parade of Lights in Champaign. This community event features floats, marching bands, and everyone’s favorite—Santa Claus himself! The end of the parade is concluded with the lighting of the Downtown Christmas Tree in the One Main Plaza. All community members are invited to enter the parade.
This year the Snow Globe exhibit at the Orpheum is sponsored by Busey Bank, and with their generous support the museum has been able to expand their attractions.
“We expect a few hundred people to attend on opening night as parade goers filter into the museum after the parade. Due to our generous sponsor, Busey Bank, we are able to provide this winter wonderland type of experience to our museum families and visitors,” said Rene’ Dunn, the Executive Director of the Orpheum.
“It is one of our busiest days at the museum, and requires many volunteers to manage the event,” said Dunn.
There is a large list of things for visitors to do while at the Snow Globe. They can listen to holiday storytelling, engage in simulated ice fishing, snowball throwing, and sledding, as well as participate in creating holiday crafts: there’s something for everyone. Another added bonus is that the exhibit offers delicious holiday treats.
The Snow Globe exhibit is open on December 5, 12, and 19 from 1-5 p.m. The entry fee is $6 for members, $8 for nonmembers, as well as a special $28 for four.
The Snow Globe is just one of many events that the Orpheum will be hosting this holiday season. On December 31 the Orpheum invites visitors to celebrate the New Year with a balloon drop at noon—dropping over 4000 balloons onto the excited crowd.
The Noon Day Drop has arts and crafts, and loud music for the giant dance party, which happens under the balloon drop. It is a tradition of the museum to bid farewell to the past year while welcoming in the new one. The cost to enter this event is the same as the Snow Globe: $6 for members, $8 for nonmembers, as well as a special $28 for four.