Horseradish is a spicy root vegetable commonly made into a pre-packaged sauce. The strong, biting flavor of horseradish sauce adds a kick to any dish, and it is an important ingredient for shrimp cocktail sauce. In Illinois, this specialty crop is mainly grown in the American Bottom areas in St. Clair, Madison, and Monroe counties, with Collinsville serving as the hub location. With more than 60 percent of the world’s horseradish supply grown in this area, Collinsville is known as ‘The Horseradish Capital of the World.’ 

The year 2023 saw stadiums, arenas, parks, bars, and all concert venues in between packed throughout Chicagoland and Illinois. While other entertainment sectors may be struggling to fill seats to the level they did before the pandemic, there was no such issue for concert venues in Illinois in 2023. The list of marquee acts to hit the stage was impressive, including Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran breaking records at Soldier Field. 

Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. December 25 has been a federal holiday in the U.S. since 1870. Christmas traditions include gift exchanges, decorating Christmas trees, attending church services, sharing meals with family and friends, and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. 


Meet our newest legislators. This week the House Republican Caucus welcomed Nicole La Ha and Brandun Schweizer to its ranks. The two new legislators were appointed to fill vacancies created with the retirements of State Representatives Michael Marron and John Egofske.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa Claus’ progress in delivering Christmas presents to children since 1955. NORAD, which is responsible for protecting the skies over the United States and Canada, activates its tracking system at 6 a.m. Eastern Time each year on Christmas Eve.

This week the House Republican Caucus welcomed Nicole La Ha and Brandun Schweizer to its ranks. The two new legislators were appointed to fill vacancies created with the retirements of State Representatives Michael Marron and John Egofske.

On Wednesday, Nicole La Ha took the oath of office to become State Representative of the 82nd District, which includes the communities of Willowbrook, Burr Ridge, Willow Springs, Darien, Western Springs, Homer Glen, and Lemont.

Tamales have been a staple in Mexican culture for centuries, dating back to the times of the Aztecs, Mayans, and Olmecs. Tamales are regarded as a sacred food for the gods and eaten on special occasions, including holidays. Eating tamales during Christmas time is a deep-rooted tradition for many Mexican families, and that tradition has become a part of the culture in other areas of the world as well. 

In 2024, Illinoisans will see more than 300 new laws take effect. Here are few notable new laws:

Rep. Meier - Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Awareness 
Public Act 103-119, House Bill 1156
Increases awareness of a free service by requiring long-term care facilities to post prominently on their website information about the free Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Rep. Windhorst - Admissibility of Medical Records in Juvenile Court Hearings 
Public Act 103-124, House Bill 1434
Changes the Juvenile Court Act to allow the admissibility of certified hospital or public or private agency records in adjudicatory hearings on abused, neglected, or dependent minors.

In the post-pandemic era that includes ultra-high inflation and exorbitant interest rates, Americans are spending more than ever for the convenience of having groceries, meals and household items delivered to their homes. The average delivery service customer is spending over $400 a month in 2023, up from $157 a month in 2021 according to a recent survey from LendingTree. 

In less than three years, the United States will commemorate its 250th birthday, or Semiquincentennial, celebration. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, with the nation’s 250th birthday officially being recognized on July 4, 2026. The journey toward this historic milestone is an opportunity to pause and reflect on our nation’s past, honor the contributions of all Americans, and look ahead toward the future for the next generation and beyond. 

Christmas time is a time to unwind, enjoy the company of friends and family, cherish gift giving, and partake in traditions, both new and old. For some, Christmas traditions remain orthodox, and others offer quite a twist. From eating a holiday delicacy, to watching a beloved Christmas film, to driving around the town looking at decorations and lights, all traditions are a special time for bonding and reflection of the year. Considering the holiday season, some members of the House Republican Caucus have shared a few of their favorite Christmas traditions.

Bipartisan nuclear power plant bill signed into law. The new Public Act 103-584 applies to small modular reactors which, by scale design, cannot generate enough heat to breach containment. Advocates say that small modular reactor technology are one class of devices that point the way towards a future for Illinois’ energy supply, particularly as Illinois’ coal-fired and natural-gas-powered generating plants move through their operating life cycles.

As the holiday season begins to unfold, towns and communities across the state compete to put on the best holiday celebrations. Cities and towns fully embrace the Christmas season and continue to foster the magic of Christmas through various events allowing community members to gather during the month of December.

In northwest Illinois, the city of Galena ranks first among Christmas towns in Illinois. Galena encompasses the Christmas season and spirit through its packed event calendar, from a model train show to breakfast with Santa Claus. Galena is known for its Night of the Luminara and Living Windows event. This event allows businesses and shops downtown to light up the streets with more than 5,000 candles and living window displays. 

Chicago was a leader a century ago in nurturing an urban forest. But those days are in the past, and from 2011 through 2021, there was a net loss of at least 69,000 street trees, according to city records. Tens of thousands of ash trees were removed because of the tree-killing Emerald ash borer. The city’s forestry budget had been slashed, and the planting-specific budget plummeted from $3.5 million in 2008 to $173,500 in 2013.  In addition, pine trees have been under attack by pine wilt, which is a serious disease affecting Scots pine and Japanese red pine trees. 

The roots of automobile manufacturing in the United States can be traced back to Illinois, and specifically Peoria. Brothers Frank and Charles Duryea, working in their barn on West Barker Street, are credited as the first Americans to mass produce and market the first gasoline-powered car in 1893. This vehicle included a four-horsepower, two-stroke engine. The Duryea Manufacturing Company in present-day Peoria Heights was established five years later by Charles Duryea, and he began making the Peoria Duryea Motor Trap. In August 1898, the first Duryea was driving in Peoria. 

The days of buying a new vehicle for under $20,000 are nearly over, for now, in the U.S. The average price of a new vehicle is now over $48,000, an incredible 25 percent jump since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. According to the latest figures, only one vehicle, the Mitsubishi Mirage, can be bought for less than $20,000. But despite that low price, sales of the Mirage have been sluggish in the U.S., dropping by 44 percent this year. There is also a possibility that Mitsubishi will stop selling the Mirage by the mid-2020s. 

Thousands of migrants crowd into Chicago without shelter as winter approaches. No plans existed for the more than 25,000 migrants now in the Chicago area who do not have permanent legal status in the United States. The word “migrant” often refers to people who cross the U.S. border, present themselves to law enforcement, and claim status as refugees under what is described as international law. Hypothetically, these persons have a right to stay in the United States. In return for the right to stay temporarily in the United States, people in this category are supposed to be on call as their legal status to be classified as a refugee is adjudicated. The number of migrants claiming refugee status has overwhelmed the ability of U.S. courts of immigration law to adjudicate these cases. Persons in this category now number in the many hundreds of thousands throughout the U.S.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines are essential components of carbon capture and storage systems which are proposed to reduce atmospheric emissions of man-made CO2, which is a greenhouse gas. Approximately 5,000 miles of pipeline already carry CO2 in the U.S., but a much larger pipeline network likely will be needed to meet national goals for greenhouse gas reduction. Two CO2 pipeline projects that were in the works in Illinois have been withdrawn amidst local opposition, though both project applications could be refiled in the near future. 

December 7, 1941, will be forever known as ‘The Date That Will Live in Infamy’ in the United States. President Franklin Roosevelt uttered those words in response to the heinous and deliberate attack by the Empire of Japan on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack on an early Sunday morning killed 2,403 U.S. service personnel, including 50 servicemen from Illinois. The attack also injured 1,178 people, and included with the deceased were 68 civilians. 

Riddell Sports Group has a long and storied history of innovation when it comes to sports equipment. Riddell is best known for its large collection of football equipment, including helmets and other accessories widely used in the National Football League and NCAA College Football. The company was founded in 1927 by John Tate Riddell in Rosemont. 

No mountains in Illinois? No problem. The Prairie State still has plenty to offer for people who love outdoor winter activities, including skiing and snowboarding. There are five ski resorts in Illinois, including three in the Chicagoland area, along with Galena and Andalusia in the northwest part of the state. Chestnut Mountain, located near Galena, is Illinois’ largest ski resort and offers the highest vertical drop at 475 feet. 

The windy city of Chicago is famous for its sports teams, world-class museums, and vast array of shopping choices. The city remains a popular tourist destination. However, Chicago is also famous as a setting for numerous holiday films. While it may be called the Second City, Chicago is the king of holiday movies. 

There are some obvious reasons why so many iconic Christmas movies are filmed in Chicago. Downtown provides incredible backdrops and lights, and the suburbs offer huge homes and mansions. And then there is the staple of winter weather – snow. And during the winter months, there’s a pretty good chance there is snow on the ground in Chicagoland. There are also tax rebates, cheaper permits, and a large supply of local actors and crew members that can attract filmmakers and producers. 

GOMB projects State budget deficits in FY25 and following years. The "Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report,” submitted in November 2023 by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), contains long-term projections covering spending and tax revenue trends faced by the State of Illinois. The GOMB projects continued compounding increases in the expenses faced by several key areas of State general-funds spending, particularly health care costs, pensions, and mandated education funding increases. The GOMB projects general funds budgeted spending, including pensions, rising from $48.3 billion in FY24 to almost $55.8 billion five years down the road in FY29. This is independent of further spending increases requested by all of the advocacy groups who push for more State funding every year.

The Illinois House Judiciary Committee held a meeting in early November to receive additional input and consider possible solutions to the fast-rising concerns and issues brought about by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Lawmakers heard from experts in the acting industry, academia, legal, and business communities about the exploding growth of AI, with two panels providing testimony and answering questions for over three hours. Comparisons to the rise of social media were made, and lawmakers are wary of making the same mistakes again. 

The Waltham Curling Club, founded in 1884, is the oldest curling club in Illinois. Located in the tiny village of Triumph near I-39 and just north of I-80 in LaSalle County, the Waltham Curling Club offers fun for the entire family. The club offers leagues for men, women, and children ages 8 and up. They provide group opportunities to learn to curl, and new members are welcome, with or without curling experience. The curling season runs from early November through late March. 

13.6 million units of blood are collected annually in the United States. Each donation can save up to three lives. In the United States alone, someone needs blood every two seconds, which equals about 29,000 units of blood needed daily, and 4.5 million people needing blood annually. With these numbers in mind, only approximately three percent of the eligible population in the U.S. choose to donate blood .

For State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa), a young boy’s death in 2019 in McHenry County sparked a renewed mission and passion for his work in Springfield. Four years later, two former DCFS workers are on trial for reckless conduct and child endangerment charges following the death of 5-year-old A.J. Freund. The boy’s parents are currently in jail, including the mother for first-degree murder and the father for involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery of a child, and concealment of a homicidal death. 

Living in Illinois means homeowners have to always be prepared for changes in the weather. The climate encapsulates all four seasons in Illinois, and staying ahead of the game can save a homeowner thousands of dollars and days and weeks of unwanted challenges or issues. Winter is a beautiful season, with falling snow and cooler temperatures. But it can also be fierce, with arctic-cold temperatures, ice and risks of damage to homes.

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the U.S., and this year Thanksgiving is celebrated on Thursday, November 23. The Thanksgiving celebration dates back to 1621, when the Plymouth colonists from England, known as Pilgrims, and the Native American Wampanoag people shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. 

For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. The holiday is not without controversy, however. Many Americans, including people of Native American ancestry, believe Thanksgiving celebrations mask the true history of oppression and bloodshed that underlies the relationship between European settlers and Native Americans.

Peoria, the eighth-largest city in Illinois, is home to the longest running Santa Claus Parade in America. And not only is the parade a staple of Thanksgiving weekend in the River City, the event continues to thrive as the 136th edition arrives later this year. Last year’s event, held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, included 80 floats. 

The parade features costumed characters, novelty walking units, decorated floats, marching bands, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Thousands of adults, teenagers and children alike are in attendance. The parade is held through the streets of downtown and is broadcast live on local television. There is no cost to attend the parade. 

Canadian Pacific’s Holiday Train will be returning to Illinois during the upcoming holiday season, with four stops scheduled. This favorite holiday tradition features a bright light display, live music, and an appearance from Santa Claus. 

The CPKC Holiday Train begins its tour of Canada and the United States on November 20 and continues through December 19. The first stop in Illinois is scheduled for Saturday, November 25, in Bensenville. Each stop on the tour includes 30 minutes of live musical performances from well-known artists. The annual tour raises money for food banks across the U.S. and Canada., and donations are collected for local charities. 

The Illinois State Police completed a round of public hearings in early November regarding the state’s assault weapons ban. Questions still surround what weapons are banned and what weapons must be registered by the December 31 deadline, and ISP is working to provide answers to all of the questions it has received. 

House Republicans blast Gov. Pritzker for spending $638 million on Chicago’s migrant crisis. On Thursday, Governor JB Pritzker announced his plan to spend $160 million in taxpayer funds to provide shelter and job assistance to thousands of migrants in Chicago. Since 2022, nearly 25,000 migrants have come to Chicago while the State of Illinois has already spent $478 million on the migrant crisis.

Illinois has an estimated population of 850,000 deer, ranked 11th in the nation by one national magazine. Illinois also ranks seventh in the top deer hunting states list, with the ‘Golden Triangle’ counties in the west-central region (Pike, Brown, and Adams) leading the way. That region has received national attention for consistently producing some of the largest bucks in the state. Much of the Golden Triangle region is locked in leases and private land ownership.

One of the most unique and heartwarming holiday programs has been in existence for over 100 years and is conducted by the United States Postal Service. USPS Operation Santa receives thousands of letters to Santa from children every year. The letters are carefully reviewed, scanned, and posted on the USPS website, with personal information removed. Generous people from all over the U.S. adopt the letters and send gifts to the children, with shipping provided by the North Pole. 

With the air getting crisper, holiday lights appearing outside homes, and families resurrecting Christmas traditions across Illinois, there is another tradition unique to the Chicagoland area many families incorporate in their festivities. With festive booths reminiscent of European markets, spectacular gifts and ornaments, and the scent of delicious German food mixed with the aroma of gluhwein, people from all over can enjoy this seasonal market and get in the holiday spirit!

Five of the top poultry production states in the U.S. are in the Midwest, led by Minnesota. In Illinois, the turkey industry has a smaller, but still very important footprint. Poultry is big business, contributing nearly $600 billion annually to the U.S. economy. That represents three percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. 

In Illinois, there is a concentration of independent growers in the Peoria and Morton areas, along with a couple of USDA-inspected processing plants. The lack of processing plants is a major impediment in expanding the poultry industry in Illinois. The cost of building a plant is very expensive, and finding enough employees willing to work is another issue. Most Illinois turkey producers are contract growers for large, integrated farms in Iowa and Indiana. 

Illinois General Assembly concludes Fall Veto Session. Week two of the Fall Veto Session was characterized more by what the Democratic Supermajority failed to deliver instead of what they did deliver.

Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch refused to call the Invest in Kids renewal legislation for a vote, essentially killing the popular program that helps underprivileged students throughout Illinois.

Since the Revolutionary War more than 41 million Americans have served in our Nation’s military. The first Veterans were part of the Continental Army created in 1775 when colonial militias formed a common army under command of George Washington. Since then, the United States has declared war 11 times and fought in conflicts around the world.

The Illinois Children’s Health Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral caucus established to review early childhood development. Members explore evidence-based policies and programs to achieve health equity for children, families, and communities throughout the state.

This caucus consists of a bipartisan group of Illinois legislators from the House and Senate. The caucus is made up of four members, including Rep. Kevin Schmidt (R-Cahokia Heights) and Senate Republican Dale Fowler.

According to a report from CNN Business, retailers in the U.S. are expected to add just 410,000 seasonal positions for the upcoming holiday shopping season, which would mark the industry’s lowest seasonal hiring total since 2008. 

Despite historically high inflation in recent years, U.S. consumers have continued to splurge. However, that trend may be ending soon. Americans are expected to focus on must-have purchases, such as groceries, while slowing down on discretionary items. Of all the major retailers that have announced hiring plans, only Amazon is increasing its seasonal hires. Last year, Amazon announced it was hiring 150,000 people for the holidays; this year that figure is 250,000. 

Watchfire Signs is an industry leading domestic manufacturer of digital displays. Headquartered in Vermilion County in Danville, Watchfire has been an innovative leader in the electronic sign business since 1932. The company’s 140,000 square foot facility allows Watchfire to build some of the largest digital displays in the world. Watchfire designs and manufactures high resolution LED signs, custom indoor video displays, digital billboard products, and outdoor sports displays. 

House Republicans introduced several initiatives this year aimed at increasing election integrity in Illinois. The bills targeted the State Board of Elections to set up and maintain a system to track all mail-in ballots, required voter ID cards or another form of ID to vote, and ensured deceased individuals are removed from voter rolls.

“I would love to be in a situation where the state of Illinois, for voting, is not relying on election judges and their signature match-up expertise to make sure that we have done all we can to reduce voter fraud,” stated State Representative Ryan Spain, ranking Republican on the House Ethics & Elections Committee. “What we should be doing is what most states in our country do. Red states, blue states, swing states and the vast majority of states have a simple fix and it is voter ID. You show an ID when you go to vote.”

Once bustling malls in Illinois and across the nation are going bust as shoppers flock to online retailers and home delivery conglomerates. The numbers are sobering, with an estimated 2,500 malls across the country in 1980. Today, there are less than 700 and that could dwindle to 150 in 10 years. However, the most recent research shows foot traffic and sales at shopping malls has increased in the U.S. from 2019 to 2022. 

Preparations for second and final week of fall 2023 veto session. The Illinois House of Representatives will reconvene on Tuesday, November 7 in Springfield. The House Rules Committee met on Wednesday, November 1, to examine bills on the House agenda for assignment to the House floor or to committees. Numerous House committees have posted hearing notices for next week.

As part of the 2019 Rebuild Illinois capital plan, $350 million was appropriated to renovate the Capitol Complex including the Capitol and Stratton Office Buildings as well as the surrounding parking areas. The state hired Andrea Aggertt to lead the effort as the new Architect of the Illinois State Capitol. Since that time she helped develop and is currently executing a long-range plan to oversee repair, rehabilitation, construction and renovation projects on the Capitol Complex. And, she has hit the ground running. 

The Illinois State Police (ISP) is scheduled to conduct three public hearings on permanent rules to continue to move forward on the implementation of the Protect Illinois Communities Act in early November. The Protect Illinois Communities Act created a category of firearms, called “assault weapons” and “assault weapons attachments.” The Democrats picked a list of firearms that they deem unsafe to be “assault weapons.” The Act was signed into law in January 2023 by Governor Pritzker and regulates the possession, sale and transfer of “assault weapons,” “assault weapon” attachments, high-capacity magazines, and switches in Illinois. Citizens who possessed the firearms devices listed in this Act before it took effect are required to submit an endorsement affidavit through their Firearm Owner’s Identification Card account. 

The 2023 holiday shopping season is approaching fast, and there are important dates and deadlines to know to get packages shipped to their destinations on time for those family celebrations. The following deadline dates cover domestic, international, and military shipping destinations for the United States Postal Service (USPS) to allow for the timely delivery of cards, letters, and packages by December 25.

Social media has become a pillar of many people’s daily lives, with 59 percent of the global population (4.65 billion) using at least one platform. In the U.S., the numbers are even more staggering, with 84 percent of Americans using at least one social media network. 

There are a number of pros and cons associated with social media. Advantages include: educational purposes, building your brand, reaching a large audience, staying up to date with local and national events, targeting audiences based on their interests, getting connected to new people, creating your audiences, building relationships, getting new visitors to your website, and free usage. Disadvantages include: it’s addicting and time consuming, decrease in communication skills, fake news stories, sleeplessness, inappropriate content, cyber-attacks, lack of confidence, fear of missing out, no privacy, and getting close to depression. 

The celebration of Halloween has been around for more than a thousand years. Originally a religious observance, today Halloween is considered a holiday for dress-up and fun, especially for children. By 1950, trick-or-treating for candy had become one of Halloween’s most popular activities. Halloween is observed on October 31, and it is one of the biggest holidays for candy sales in the United States, estimated to be more than $3 billion according to the National Retail Federation.