Carving turkeys and stuffing our bellies surrounded by loved ones is pastime we look forward to all year. Extend the celebration and make memories to be thankful for by hitting up any of these events that’ll keep your little turkeys moving, from parades to turkey trots and everything in between.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo photo: Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
Be there when the switch is flipped to begin the annual spectacular light display at Lincoln Park Zoo on Fri., Nov. 25.  The paths will be illuminated with musical light displays and fun family activities and crafts are spread throughout.  Watch the nightly live ice sculpture carvings, snap pics with Santa and lace up your skates to take a few loops around the ice skating rink. Due to the popularity of this event, taking public transportation whenever possible is encouraged.

Worth Noting:  Stay in the giving spirit by bringing new and gently used items to the winter clothing drive located inside Park Place Cafe.  Donated items will be distributed among local Chicago charities.

Dates: Nov. 25–27, Dec. 2–4, 9–23, 26–31; Jan 1
Hours: 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: Admission free; ice skating $5
2001 N. Clark St.
Lincoln Park

Morton Tree of Lightsphoto: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum

Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum
Returning for a fourth year is the crowd pleasing dazzler Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum.  Walk the mile-long path and gaze in amazement at the LED lit trees through the winter woods.  Bright light shows set to The Nutcracker music recorded by The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and glowing trees that respond to touch and sound will amuse and stimulate the senses of all ages!  Keep toasty warm by stopping at a cozy bonfire or enjoying a hot beverage (adult options available) served at the three tents scattered throughout the event.

Dates: Nov. 18-Jan. 2
Hours: 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; lights out at 9:30 p.m.
Cost: Non-members, $15/adults, $10/ages 2-17; Members, $10/adults, $5/ages 2-17; free for children under 2
Tip:  Purchase tickets ahead as event does sell out
Morton Arboretum
4100 IL Rte. 53

Dazzling Holiday Trolley Ride
A pretty cool way to watch the winking and blinking of holiday lights is by trolley. Hook up with Chicago Trolley Co. for its annual Holiday Lights Tour. The lightly narrated two-and-a-half-hour adventure shows the best of Chicago’s holiday lights and stops at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Zoolights show. Sights on the tour include The Magnificent Mile, Macy’s holiday windows, Christkindlmarket, the John Hancock and Daley Plaza trees, Millennium Park and more. The tour even includes complimentary treats from Sprinkles Cupcakes for each passenger.

Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 26
Hours: Tour times vary, check website
Cost: $29/adults; $18/kids
Tour departs from the John Hancock Observatory,
875 N. Michigan Ave.
Mag Mile

2015 McDonalds Thanksgiving Paradephoto: McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade 2015

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade
How about spending your Thanksgiving morning with Matt Walsh from VEEP? You can, because he’s marshaling the annual Thanksgiving Parade, a local bucket list item everyone should check off at least once. This year’s parade lineup is filled with performances to delight all ages, including stage performances from Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Broadway in Chicago’s Finding Neverland, Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey’s Circus and many more.

Insider tip: For a less crowded area to view the parade, sponsors suggest a spot near State and Adams Streets.

Date: Nov. 26
Hours: Starts at 8 a.m.; suggested to arrive early
Cost: Free
State St., from Congress to Randolph

a-charlie-brown-christmas-emerald-theatrephoto: Charlie Brown Christmas

Have a Charlie Brown Kinda Christmas
Christmastime is here . . .and Charlie Brown can’t seem to find the joy in the season. Join the Peanuts gang as they discover the true meaning of Christmas in this 1970’s tv classic turned musical.

Dates: Through Jan. 8
Hours: Thanksgiving weekend, Fri.-Sun. at 10 a.m.
Broadway Playhouse
175 E. Chestnut

Local Charitable Turkey Trots
Work up an appetite and justify an extra slice of pie after spending your morning burning excess calories in a local race.  Many city neighborhoods and suburban towns host these Thanksgiving Day trots, and most of them are benefiting a great cause, adding to the spirit of giving and gratitude!

Downer’s Grove is hosting the 11th annual Bonfield Express 5K, raising money for local high school students.

Enjoy a stunning view of the lakefront by entering Evanston’s Flying Turkey 5K. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Harvest Food Pantry and Foundation 65. A canned goods drive to benefit the panty will take place before the race.

Support Friends for Health, which provides financial and volunteer support for North Shore Health Center, by running the North Shore Turkey Trot.

Schaumburg’s competitive half marathon and 5K benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Naperville’s 19th annual Turkey Trot benefits the Lion’s Club, a charity supporting children and families with hearing and visual impairments.

Join runners around North Pond in Lincoln Park at one of Chicago’s traditional Thanksgiving traditions, the 39th annual Turkey Day Run.  These 5K and 8K courses end with Turkey Bowling.  Proceeds benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Too busy on Thanksgiving morning?  Consider hitting the pavement two days after at the Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in Grant Park on Saturday.  Parents will love the Lakefront views and children will burn off their energy in the Kids’ Dash.

What local events are a part of your family’s holiday traditions? Share in the Comments below.

— Maria Chambers & Nicole Morris