We know, we know: The frost is still on the pumpkins that are still sitting with their slowly collapsing jack-o'-lantern grins on the front porch.

Time to cart them out to the trash: The first serious weekend of holiday cheer is upon us, with — hark! —the first Christmas parade in Central Illinois, and more.

In the world of holiday observances, there are no measured transitions.

Halloween out, Christmas in. 

And Thanksgiving? Good luck.

For those ready and willing to engage, with no time out, here's a look at what's happening this first full-blown holiday weekend of the season.

As mentioned, a mere 11 days after All Hallow's Eve comes the first Christmas parade of the season.

Just as LeRoy has claimed honors for the first fall festival of the season each year (typically arriving mid-August a full month before fall), Heyworth has laid claim to Pantagraphland's first of many Christmas parades.

The town even has its own Heyworth Christmas Organization to ensure that it all happens the second weekend of every November.

"Holidays Heyworth Style" kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday downtown, preceded by the annual holiday craft fair and bake sale at the American Legion & VFW, which continues most of the afternoon, until 4 p.m. 

Also scoring a first this weekend is the season's very first holiday stage offering, occurring courtesy of the Tri-County Players troupe at Paxton's Market Square.

"Nuncrackers, The Nunsense Christmas Musical" is about the first TV special taped in the cable access studio built by Reverend Mother in the convent basement and transmitting tunes like "The Twelve Days Prior to Christmas" and "Santa Ain’t Comin’ to Our House." 

Performances are at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, followed by a second weekend of same-time performances, Nov. 17 through 19.

From "Nuncrackers" to "Nutcrackers": Chicago Festival Ballet choreographer Kenneth Von Heidecke is preceding the company's Dec. 28 performance of "The Nutcracker" in the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts with a free master class at 1 p.m. Sunday in the BCPA for ages 12 to adult.

Because class size is limited, reservations should be made by calling Ann-Marie Dittmann at 309-434-2766.

Immediately following the class, open auditions will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. to cast various "Nutcracker" roles for the Dec. 28 performance.

In the Twin Cities, the big opening holiday volley comes Saturday in Uptown Normal, where the annual Uptown Normal Holiday Open House returns from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The event marks the first sighting of Santa Claus and the Mrs. within Twin Cities limits. Be advised that they are already making their lists and giving them the twice-over.

Also on tap will be free horse-drawn carriage rides, local choirs and singers performing here and there, and special fun stuff at various participating merchants.

About those horse-drawn carriage rides: There will be a reservation system in effect that allows riders to place their name on a list and continue to shop, eat or warm up indoors before returning at a designated time for their ride.

We're advised that ride times fill up fast, so plan accordingly.

For those who miss out this time, the free carriage rides will also be available throughout the month of December in conjunction with Santa’s Station, which doesn't open until Dec. 2 ... Santa's premature 11/11 showing notwithstanding.

For those who prefer everything undercover, start to finish, B-N's first big holiday vendor fair of the season arrives Sunday, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Chateau Hotel & Conference Center, 1601 Jumer Drive, Bloomington. 

The Holiday Extravaganza, as it's billed, will feature 30 vendors sharing their seasonal wares. Admission is free.

Across town at the Interstate Center in Bloomington, the monthly Third Sunday Market is morphing into the Third Sunday Market Holiday Show for its last stand of the season, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. 

Also opening its house this weekend is downtown Pontiac, where the annual Jolly Toy Trolley holiday happening returns, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.mm. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

On tap will be merchant sales and specials around the square and beyond, and the annual Jolly Trolley canned/non-perishables food drive for local pantries.

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