They walked in small groups along the Illinois Prairie Path at the far eastern end of Elmhurst. It was windy and pitch dark, but they were guided by their tiny lanterns—and glow sticks. Nocturnal creatures who normally own that territory stayed in the shadows, in the wooded areas near the path.
The Girl Scouts' annual Lantern Hike Friday drew hundreds of scouts from six South Elmhurst schools, accompanied by their little brothers and sisters, parents and friends.
More than 900 people came out for the event, said Kristine Degrace, Girl Scout service unit director for South Elmhurst. Some were dressed in Halloween costumes, some in their Girl Scout uniforms and some in hoodies and jeans, but all were there to learn more about the history of Girl Scouts, donate to a good cause and have some fun.
First, families dropped off bags and bags of winter outerwear for First United Methodist Church's Clothes Closet. Then, they set off on the route that began at Poplar Avenue and ended up in Berkeley. Along the way, they stopped at five trivia stations to answer questions about Girl Scouts and collect prizes.
After they walked under Interstate 290 into Berkeley, they played games, got "tattoos" and had hot chocolate and snacks at the Berkeley Fire Station.
Degrace said during her five years running the event, the number of girls attending has almost tripled.
"It takes more than 50 volunteers to make this happen," she said.