Throughout the year, Darien-based historian Leslie Goddard portrays Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, or Louisa May Alcott at libraries or historical societies. This year for the Christmas season, Goddard developed a new presentation. Illinois Public Radio’s Brian O’Keefe has the story. 

Metra says kids will be able to ride for free during the last two weeks of December.

Downstate Congressman John Shimkus will help negotiate the final version of the Republican tax reform bill. 

After Christmas festivities are over and the presents are all unwrapped, the next task is figuring out how to dispose of the Christmas tree before the cats knock it over again. Thankfully, WCBU has compiled a handy list of tips for tree pickup and recycling for local residents. If you'd like to add additional programs to our list, please email us. Thank you!

DocChewbacca / Flickr/Creative Commons

WATERLOO, Ill. (AP) - Santa Claus was arrested in southern Illinois - but not in front of kids.

Authorities say Cody Alexander, a federal fugitive, was discovered portraying Santa outside a business in Waterloo on Monday night. He's been wanted since failing to appear in federal court in East St. Louis on Dec. 15.

 Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing says Alexander was taken inside a real estate business and arrested. He's facing a mail theft charge.

West Midlands Police / Wikimedia Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Police officers will be on the lookout across Illinois for holiday revelers who shouldn't be behind the wheel.

In a news release, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police say that nearly 200 law enforcement agencies will out in force in the hopes of keeping the number of fatalities down during the last days of 2016. 

The release says that enforcement will take place around the clock but will be stepped up at night and that motorists will see roadside safety checks, seat-belt enforcement zones as well as extra patrols looking for impaired drivers. 

Walters Brothers Gives More Toys ... For Tots

Dec 13, 2016
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

 U.S. Marines Corp Reservists from Peoria loaded toys on their truck Tuesday at Walters Brothers Harley-Davidson. Santa helped. The Marines coordinate the Toys for Tots campaign.

Hospitalized children get an early visit from Santa

Dec 23, 2015
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Santa Claus came to town a few days early to visit hospitalized children Wednesday. 

Volunteer Bill Turney donned the red suit and distributed toys to sick kids.  Before he rode the elevator up to the patients’ floor, Turney was already in tears.

“It’s a happy thing, but it’s also a sad thing. Because these children are sick and they shouldn’t be sick in the first place. They’re just babies, but I know that kind of stuff happens," Turney said. "So, we’re here to make them smile for a little bit, forget about their problems and have a whole lot of fun.”

Effingham County Courthouse Museum

 EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - Jane Loy Ries is keeping alive the World War II stories she heard as a child.  Ries has decorated for the second year an 8-foot Christmas tree in the Effingham County Museum with ornaments honoring those who served in the war.  

The retired second-grade public schoolteacher started the project when she was still in the classroom. Pupils "adopted" a veteran and were instructed to learn about him. 

 Two hundred veterans are represented on the ornaments featuring red hearts backing the veterans' photos.  

glasseyes view / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The weather outside is far from frightful, with temperatures in Illinois running 10 degrees above average for December.


People in the "Let It Snow" camp can take heart. Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel says a "white Christmas" may still be ahead.

 He says that, in general, the odds of at least an inch of snow on the ground on Dec. 25 are about 40 to 60 percent in the northern third of Illinois, 20 to 40 percent in central Illinois, and zero to 20 percent in southern Illinois. 

Calsidyrose / Peoria Public Radio

BARRINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Thousands of inmates at prisons and jails across Illinois will receive care packages assembled by members of a Barrington church as part of its holiday program.

Parishioners filled brown paper sacks with mini-doughnuts, Christmas cards and religious books after the Sunday early service at Willow Creek Community Church.

The church decided to expand the program last Christmas in an effort to send gifts to every prisoner in Illinois whose facility would allow it after members packed about 32,000 care packages.


Pareeerica / Flickr/Creative Commons

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' budget impasse will replace the Grinch when it comes to decorating the state Capitol dome this year.

The Illinois Secretary of State's office, which maintains the Capitol building, announced Tuesday they will skip the annual tradition of stringing Christmas lights on the dome.

Denise Molina-Weiger / Peoria Public Radio

A local group is continuing its tradition of collecting toys for children who have to spend the holidays in local hospitals.

Stepped up traffic patrols begin this weekend

Dec 18, 2014
Denise Molina-Weiger / Peoria Public Radio

Local, county and state law enforcement are stepping up patrols beginning this weekend. The goal is to reduce traffic fatalities over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.