McGaw Y hosts International Family Festival

About 600 families gathered Dec. 11 at the International Family Festival hosted by the McGaw YMCA. For over 15 years, the International Family Festival has encouraged children and their families to learn about the many holiday traditions celebrated by different cultures all over the world.

At the event, the attendees received a passport booklet and visited 23 different booths that represented countries from all around the world. Upon entering the Y, families were greeted by two life-sized nutcracker figures at the Front Desk as well as an array of Christmas decorations donated by Bloomingdale’s.

Families who entered the “Gingerbread Village” voted for their favorite gingerbread house and, thanks to the Kiwanis Breakfast Club, got their pictures taken with. Children received free books provided by Barnes & Nobles and Borders, who donated children’s books for the Book Give Away. The Kiwanis Noon Club and St Francis Hospital provided families with a free hot dog lunch.

Pivot Point Academy provided holiday manicures and a seasonal makeover to children while their families were serenaded by Christmas music and live performances by children from the McGaw YMCA’s Children’s Center, Chicago Spirit Brigade, The Mime Company, Evanston Escola de Samba, Indonesian Dancers, and ONI. In the “Y Cottage,” families made their own holiday s’mores at the Camp Echo booth and learned about other McGaw YMCA programs with staff from the Children’s Center and Adventure Guides.
“Many people stopped to tell me how great the International Family Festival was this year, how terrific the staff and all our volunteers are. There was just one complaint: one mother said that her 7-year-old son was just too excited to go to sleep the night before, of course with a bright smile and laugh,” president and CEO of the McGaw YMCA, Bill Geiger, said. “For the last several years, the International Family Festival has gotten better and better – each has been more welcoming, more broadly inclusive, more impactful, and more fun.”
For more information about upcoming events and programs at the McGaw YMCA, visit