Lights and noise at Irvin’s State of City address, where Aurora Christkindlmarket is announced

Never let it be said Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s annual State of the City address is a dry, low-key recitation of facts.

“We’ve got the groove and we’re on the move!” the mayor exclaimed at the start of his speech Tuesday night.

The theme of the night was “Aurora Forward” — spelled out next to him in 3-foot-tall white, illuminated letters on the stage of the Paramount Theatre.

The speech included a major announcement: Aurora will host a Christkindlmarket location this year at RiverEdge Park downtown.

The holiday market modeled after those in Nuremburg, Germany, has been a staple in Chicago, and a location also had been held in Naperville until 2019. The dates, vendors and entertainment for the market have not yet been set.

The event’s organizer says handcrafted ornaments toys and gifts as well as traditional German foods, sweets and beverages will be sold.

Irvin did spend some time looking back at the last year. He spoke of mass COVID-19 vaccination efforts the city coordinated, saying Aurora was able to do things before the state got going.

“Aurora did not sit idly by and wait for the cavalry to come,” Irvin said, speaking of the initial clinics conducted at the city’s two empty Carson Pirie Scott stores.



Three protesters started shouting during the part of his speech where he praised the Aurora Police Department, when he said there were huge decreases in murders, burglaries and shootings. The protesters couldn’t be heard, however, as Irvin spoke louder and people started standing and applauding the police.

Before the speech, several people protested outside the theater, carrying signs calling for police reforms such as updating what they said is an outdated gang-member database maintained by the police department. Several shouted for money to be spent on housing, schools and human-care services rather than policing.

The mayor said the city this summer will double the number of students to 1,600 in its STEAM Academy — which offers students in first through sixth grades classes that mix science, technology, engineering, arts and math — and noted that the Boys and Girls Club plans to open an Aurora club.

He said next year, the city will have its first St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Irvin spoke of more than a half-dozen residential developments under way or in the works, including two apartment developments on the east and west sides of the Fox River on the north edge of the downtown, that will add more than 2,200 housing units.

The city will take over the Festival of Lights from the Rotary Club, Irvin said.

Irvin did not mention that he is one of six candidates running for the Republican nomination for governor. Irvin was first elected mayor in 2017.


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