Chilly and cloudy conditions on the day before Thanksgiving didn’t put a damper on the holiday spirit for the volunteers who showed up to decorate Delaware’s community Christmas tree.
The nearly 30-foot tall spruce is now properly dressed for the season and ready to be lighted during Main Street Delaware’s December First Friday, which is the kickoff for a full weekend of activities during Home for the Holidays, said Executive Director Susie Bibler. The tree-lighting ceremony is planned for 6:30 p.m. next Friday.
“(The tree) was donated by the Alexander family here in Delaware,” Bibler said. “They contacted us and said they wanted to help, which we’re very thankful for. Some years we’re scrambling around trying to find a tree. It’s really nice when people contact us and say, ‘Hey, I have a tree that would look good.’”
Downtown visitors will have the chance to lace up their ice skates and hit the Glice next weekend, Bibler said. The synthetic, all-weather ice skating surface made by Swiss company Glice will be laid at the Willis Education Center.
“Myself and (Delaware Parks and Natural Resources Director) Ted Miller … sat down and talked about what would be cool to do in the winter in the downtown,” Bibler said. “I mentioned an ice skating rink and he was all about it. … We feel really fortunate to have it. It’ll be here for the whole weekend — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”
The skating rink will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. during First Friday; noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3. Bibler said admission is free, but donations will be accepted to help offset the cost of renting the surface.
Bibler said another new facet for First Friday is a main stage located at the corner of Sandusky and William streets. Area singing groups and other entertainment will be featured throughout the evening.
Following is the main stage schedule:
• 6 p.m. — Hayes Singers
• 6:30 p.m. — Tree Lighting Ceremony
• 6:35 p.m. — Delaware Community Chorus
• 7 p.m. — Annie Bananie: Christmas Storytime
• 7:30 p.m. — Delaware Christian School Choir
• 8 p.m. — Magic Nate
• 8:30 p.m. — OWtsiders
Adding to the fun is the Coca-Cola Christmas Caravan, Bibler said.
“It tours the whole nation and it happens to be in the Columbus area next weekend, so we asked them to come to First Friday,” she said. “The truck opens up into a whole Christmas wonderland scene, so that will be great to have. The Coca-Cola truck comes complete with a Santa Claus and they’re also bringing their polar bear. They’ll also have a cart for Coca-Cola tasting. They have some new products coming out.”
Bibler said two live reindeer will be part of the Friday activities. Visitors will have the chance to feed the deer.
The Santa House at The Strand Theatre will open for the season on Saturday, Dec. 2, Bibler said. It will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. each Saturday until Dec. 16 and 6 to 8 p.m. each Friday, Dec. 8, 15, and 22.
“Santa will have a small toy for every child that visits him and candy canes as well,” Bibler said. “We’re proud that we can offer that to families.”
Home the Holidays will feature the Dash for Dasher, a children’s scavenger hunt through the downtown area on Saturday, Dec. 2. Bibler said the premise is that Santa’s reindeer Dasher is lost and the kids will collect clues to find him. Participants can pick up the first clue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Main Street Delaware office, 20 E. Winter St. Admission is free, but Bibler said Main Street is accepting donations of cereal for People In Need.
The weekend wraps up with the annual Christmas parade beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3. Bibler said this year’s grand marshal is Ashleigh Hunt, a Hayes High School alumna who is battling osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer.
“She’s been battling it for the last five years,” Bibler said. “So, we’re honoring her and all the other residents in Delaware that have fought this awful disease.”
Bibler said the parade’s “grand furry marshal” will be Mozart, a yellow lab who was the winner of the Pet Walk during the September First Friday.
“I think we have over 50 (parade participants) registered so far,” she said. “Registration stays open through Monday, Nov. 27. Registration forms are on our website.”
For information about Main Street Delaware’s Home for the Holidays, go to www.mainstreetdelaware.com.
Contact Andrew Carter at 740-413-0900. Follow him on Twitter @DelOhioEditor.