On the beat

Happy Holiday Festival!

 By Jim Bucher

 

Does anyone remember the old Holiday Festival Jingle from years ago? Now I’m going way back, but you have to add a little holiday music behind the words. OK, here goes.

“It’s that very special time of year, very special! The Dayton Holiday Festival is here. Ring, linga, linga, linga, ling.”

Well, just like then, it’s here again. Wow, I’m a poet and don’t know it.

The vision of Mrs. Virginia Kettering more than 40 years ago was for all children to enjoy the holiday season regardless of their economic means, so the festival continues today with free attractions and activities for the community.

Each year, the festival kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with the Grande Illumination and the Dayton Children’s Parade. ThisFriday, Nov. 29, at 7:45 p.m., they’ll throw the switch – with the crowd on hand to help count down – and 50,000 colored lights will brighten the two-story Christmas tree on Courthouse Square.

Immediately following the tree lighting, the Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights will round the corner of Second and Main Streets to start its route through downtown, sparkling with more than 100,000 lights. Watch decorative seasonal floats, horses, drill teams and bands and some special holiday treats. And something really cool for a fun and special added touch – they’ll be handing out free “magic glasses” before watching the tree lighting and parade to see the holiday lights in a whole new way

But, as they say on TV, “Wait there’s even more!”

Blinking lights and whirring sounds are just a small part of the wonder you’ll find at the Street Fair on Third Street. Enjoy free carnival rides for kids throughout the evening. At Second and Main Streets, enjoy a wagon ride through downtown. And here’s a tip: plan to come early, as the rides are very popular and lines can be long.

All month long, kicking off on Friday, Nov. 29 in the Kettering Tower lobby, visitors of all ages can view a one-of-a-kind model train display that was given to the community by Mrs. Virginia Kettering.

Something near and dear to me, which evokes great childhood memories, is the Rike’s Department Store Christmas windows. What’s really cool about it is the windows are on the very site of the old department store. It was a real treat to ride the bus downtown, pop into Rike’s for a visit with Santa and end up on the 8th floor, which was packed with toys as far as the eye could see. Well, as far as a then-5-year-old Buch could see that is.

The Wintergarden of the Schuster is where you’ll see and experience the wonder of animated elves, woodland animals, violinists and skaters right at the corner where these displays delighted people beginning more than 70 years ago.

Also in the Schuster Center is the old Rike’s Tike Shoppe, where little ones can shop for mom, dad, grandpa and grandma with the help of trained elves, and Santa will be on hand for a visit or two. Across the street at the Victoria Theatre from Dec. 3-15, is the Human Race Theatre Company’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which I hear is a dandy.

But that’s not all. (Sounds like a bad infomercial offer, doesn’t it?)

Holiday cheer will be spread all over downtown during the season with buildings ringing with the sound of music this holiday season. Groups from throughout the Miami Valley will perform a mix of holiday selections during the 2013 Dayton Holiday Festival’s Noontime Entertainment Program. Starting at noon, performing groups will present their holiday selections as lunchtime entertainment in selected building lobbies. Take a break to get in the holiday spirit and enjoy the carols and instrumental sounds. Each musical group has a cool way to bring in the holiday season and entertain you with an upbeat performance you’re sure to love and melt those bah humbug blues away.

Finally, The Neon is getting in the ho-ho-holiday act with some great seasonal family/fun/festive flicks including, unspooling “Home Alone” Saturday, Dec. 7. “White Christmas” will be shown Saturday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 21 brings “Rise of the Guardians.”

Whew, that’s a lot to cram in for the holidays, but I’ve just scratched the surface. For a complete list of all the holiday happenings visit downtowndayton.org and click the “Dayton Holiday Festival” link. Sandy Gudorf, President of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, which heads up the event, said it best, “It’s tradition and a magical night guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit. For more than 40 years, families have been coming downtown to kick off their holiday season.”

It’s true – my parents brought me, and now my kids attend. It really is the most wonderful time of the year, so why not be a part of the festivities? See you there this Friday and throughout the holiday season.

By all means if you see me, please come up and say “howdy.” I should be easy to find. I’ll be the one with the big smile.

 

Cheers (throughout the holidays!),

Buch

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