The Christmas Holiday Season is that one time of the year where expectations run high and happiness is produced through the miraculous possibilities generated when individuals make connections with one another throughout their community.
With this in mind, the organizers from Positive Results in Downtown Saginaw have pulled out all the stops to assure those connections ring strong, clear, and harmoniously with a pair of stellar celebrations to kick off the holiday season.
Beginning with the 27th Annual ‘Holidays in the Heart of the City’ Celebration on Friday, November 17th at 5:45 PM with the Lighting Ceremony at the Saginaw Water Treatment Plant and concluding with a seasonal Fireworks Display from Ojibway Island at 8:30 pm, the following morning festivities will continue with the 46th Annual Christmas Parade, which will start at 11:00 AM in Downtown Saginaw at Morley Plaza, continuing South on Washington from Johnson streets and west on Ezra Rust Drive to Ojibway Island, featuring floats, marching bands, clowns, antique cars, costumed characters, historical units, and of course, a welcomed appearance by Santa Claus himself!
According to Parade Chairman, Chuck Priem, the theme for this year’s parade is Ringing in the Holidays, and the Parade Marshall will be none other than the esteemed Thomas Trombley, chief curator at the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History. “Our hope is to have people there with music singing during the parade in a joyous choir of community spirit, which is a somewhat different approach form previous years,” he explains. “Tom Trombley is very honored, excited, and fired-up about being our Grand Marshall this year, so we have a lot of fun activities planned before, during, and after the parade.”
“People will want to cross the river from Johnson Street because EZY Park is providing free parking until 2:00 PM in the afternoon, so it’s a quick half-block walk to Morley Plaza to see Santa and watch the parade,” notes Chuck. “Santa will be greeting everyone at Morley Plaza in Downtown Saginaw from 10:30 to 10:55 AM and there will be free hot chocolate and little gifts, and then the parade will start at 11:00 AM.”
“This year the Saginaw Public Schools are sponsoring our Viewing Stand for the Parade and will be available for kids to come and give him their Christmas list,” adds Jeanne. “He will be there 15-minutes before the parade starts and then go over to the float area.”
“Girls on the Run will be staging their annual 5K Reindeer Run,” notes Chuck. “We usually get about 700 people signing up for that. The Reindeer Run is open to all runners and registration starts at 9 AM with the race starting around 10:35 am. This year the race will start at the YMCA and end at the Andersen Enrichment Center.”
According to Chuck, the committee is still receiving entries on floats and the deadline for entries will be November 10th. People can enter the parade by contacting Positive Results in Downtown Saginaw or visiting their website.
Other activities scheduled for Saturday include Old Town Saginaw Open Houses from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, a Makers Market at the SVRC Marketplace, along with the Downtown Saginaw Farmer’s Market ‘Holiday Market at the Andersen Enrichment Center from 10:00 am - 1:00 PM; the WSGW/RAK Cookie House Competition at the Andersen Enrichment Center from 10:00 am - 1:00 PM; and a Holiday Party at the Hoyt Library from 1:00 - 4:00 PM.
As for the previous evening’s Holidays in the Heart of the City’s Kick-off celebration, thanks to the tireless efforts of Chairwoman Kathy Reis, who has filled that role since 2001, along with Jeanne Conger, Director of Positive Results for Downtown Saginaw, this committed collective of volunteers has garnered the support of well over 20 community organizations and caused these back-to-back events to draw an average of 20,000 people to Saginaw’s Old Town District, Downtown Saginaw, and Ezra Rust Park Drive for this glittering celebration of our community and its resources.
“I would describe this year’s Holidays in the Heart of the City activities as New & Improved,” reflects Kathy, “because in addition to adding in some fresh events we are tweaking all of our traditional events up a notch to make them bigger and better. While most of our events and activities are pretty much the same as in prior years, each becoming a tradition people are comfortable with and enjoy, one of the new activities we’ll be featuring is Touch-a-Truck, which allows kids to go around and touch, walk around, and climb into firetrucks, large snowplows, and school buses, which tends to really engage kids because it is not an everyday experience for them.”
“Plus, we’ll have the Bookmobile back and Hoyt Library will be doing a ‘Story Time’ event down at the Andersen Enrichment Center, where kids can go to listen to and read Christmas Stories, with the READ Association giving away free books to the kids.”
“Students at Nouvel Catholic High School are working hard at bringing us an expanded Live Nativity performance at The Montague Inn on the front lawn from 5:30 - 8:30 pm; and this year The Court St. Theater will be showing the film Home Alone.
“Additionally, for the Lighting Ceremony at the Water Treatment Plant, which kicks off our festivities at 5:45 PM, the Saginaw Choral Society will be showcasing 48 kids involved with their Youth Choir, which makes this a bigger event than normal. So essentially, we’ve been working hard at tweaking things in order to improve the overall celebration and make it brighter than ever.”
“One of our newer participants, Saginaw Strings, will be joining the Saginaw Area Concert Band for a free concert at Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, where we will be collecting donations of new hats, gloves, and scarves for those less fortunate,” adds Jeanne. “Plus, this year we’ll have an increased number of food vendors spanning the distance from Borchard Park to the Children’s Zoo, with a good variety of selections.”
This year’s itinerary for Holidays in the Heart of the City concludes at 8:30 pm with their spectacular Fireworks display at Ojibway Island, which is an entirely aerial display so everyone in attendance can see them, and will last for approximately 10-minutes.
Santa and his reindeer will be on hand at the Gazebo in Borchard Park in Old Town Saginaw, and the Saginaw Castle Museum will feature their Cookie Hut. Free Horse Drawn Wagon Rides sponsored Foundation begin at the Andersen Enrichment Center at 5:30 PM and travel along Ezra Rust Drive across the bridge to Borchard Park until 8:00 PM; and the annual Cookie House Competition will take place at the Andersen Enrichment Center, along with the Downtown Saginaw Farmers Market’s Holiday Market.
“The Cookie House Contest entries are coming in now and last year we had a wonderful turnout, with 20 to 25 competitors,” explains Jeanne. “Years ago the culinary school made this competition part of their program, but they don’t do that anymore so now the contestants are comprised more from the general public. Cookie Village is for Pre-Kindergarten kids and their parents. We will supply graham crackers and candy and frosting and students, along with parents, will make little cookie houses and then we’ll lay them out as villages. The three preschools that are participating in the Cookie Village are Jessie Loomis, Herig Pre-K and Henry Doerr Early Childhood Center.”
Entry forms can be obtained by phoning 989.753.9168 or by downloading the form available on www.prideinsaginaw.org.
The Japanese Tea House will be showcasing Origami and Tea Ceremony demonstrations and the Mexican-American Council will be holding an Open House with live music, vendors, and treats; while the Saginaw Children’s Zoo will be featuring Free Admission and $2.00 Train & Carousel rides. Activities are also scheduled at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, offering free music on the porch and indoors along with free cookies and hot chocolate.
Food vendors will be spread around throughout Friday evening’s Holidays in the Heart celebration and be located at the Andersen Enrichment Center, The Children’s Zoo, which will be offering free admission, and also on Court Street and Borchard. Park.
“This is truly a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic event that draws thousands of people from throughout our region and state together to celebrate the spirit of the season,” concludes Kathy. “There are so many activities going on through this celebration that bring the people within our community together, and they can walk the route, ride the horse drawn wagons, or take free busses across the bridge to get them wherever they wish to be.”
“This has event has become a family tradition for so many. It lights that ember of the holiday glow and is a magnificent way to truly ignite the holiday spirit.”
For a complete listing and itinerary of events, please refer to the display ad on the back page of the current print edition of The REVIEW.
16th November, 2023