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Whether people are enjoying festivities, shopping, or giving back, Thanksgiving is already in full swing

Thanksgiving giving and festivity are already in full swing
Thanksgiving giving and festivity are already in full swing 02:40

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Thanksgiving celebrations were already in full swing Wednesday night, as people throughout the city and suburbs spent the holiday eve cooking, shopping, and giving back.

As CBS 2's Marybel González reported, preps for the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade were well under way Wednesday night. Some parts of State Street, that Great Street, were already closed off to make way for the floats, massive balloons, and performances coming in the morning.

But that is just one of many ways folks were already celebrating the holiday Wednesday night.

Out northwest close to O'Hare International Airport, the Village of Rosemont was lit up a day ahead of Thanksgiving.

"It's so much fun to see these kids and the smiles on their faces," said Sparkle Light Festival co-owner Shawn Hunter.

The Sparkle Light festival is an immersive experience with almost 2 million lights illuminating five themed villages and rides.

"They love the lights, and some of our large ornaments are almost 60 feet tall," Hunter said.

While some spent Thanksgiving eve enjoying the warm temperatures outdoors, others were inside at the grocery store getting done some last-minute shopping. Riki Starr was one of those in that latter category – grabbing a few items to make sure his holiday dinner is a tasty and savory one.

Among the items in his cart or on his list were noodles, five-blend cheese, whole allspice, paprika, and a habanero pepper

"I had the chicken and all that stuff already," said Starr, a Pilsen resident. "Tomorrow, I just didn't want to be in a rush. I didn't want to be bumping elbows through these aisles."

Thanksgiving also means a time to give back for many. In the Bridgeport neighborhood for the 55th year, volunteers gathered at the Louis L. Valentine Boys & Girls Club, 3400 S. Emerald Ave., to prepare and hand out Thanksgiving dinners to more than 500 people in the community.

"I think folks really expect it every year and have come to trust it - so it's a real special to really get everybody back together," said Michael Crowley, chief of staff of the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago.

For the Boys & Girls Club, it is about making sure no one goes without a hot meal during Thanksgiving.

That is also the case the Pilsen Food Pantry, 1850 S. Throop St., which stocked up a community fridge with a surprise donation they received just in time for the holiday.

"It's a time that all the family gets to be together and be off from school - and that means extra food costs and kids want traditions," said Pilsen Food Pantry founder Evelyn Figueroa.

Back on State Street, the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade will kick off bright and early Thursday at 8 a.m. If you're headed there, just make sure to give yourself plenty of time – as it is expected to be busy.

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