Communities gearing up for Christmas

VIENNA – Communities throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley are finishing their decorations for the Christmas holiday season with ceremonies and parades planned.

This year the City of Vienna has brought back three seasonal events that have not been done in several years, said Linda Kern with the city. Along with the events, the city has also brought back the “Holly Days” name.

“We decided to resurrect a few holiday celebrations we haven’t done for three years or more,” Kern said.

Those Christmas-themed events are the Miss Holly Days Pageant, which saw 51 contestants between the ages of one month and 22 years old vie for the title Nov. 9, as well as the roughly 50 lights displays throughout Jackson Park and the city and the latest addition of a new official city Christmas tree.

The new 26-feet-tall tree was “built” by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department employees Monday and Tuesday and consists of metal cage framing, plastic branches with needles and lights with a four-foot-tall lighted star on top, said Norm Harris, Vienna Parks and Recreation director.

“It is different and we want to show it off,” he said.

The city will host a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3 around the tree in Jackson Park, behind the community building, according to Kern.

Following the program, which will include choir performances and other community involvement, hot chocolate, coffee and cookies will be available in the community center.

The City of Williamstown will host its Christmas tree lighting event at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5 in front of the city building on W. Fifth Street across the street from Tomlinson Park.

Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford said the city has received numerous phone calls from organizations and churches who would like to be part of this year’s program and ceremony.

“We always have a lot of people here for the Christmas tree lighting,” said Ford. “Last year we had about 200 people, which is fantastic.”

Ford said other mayors throughout the area have asked her how the city is able to conjure the large amount of community involvement in the programs.

“All I can say is that this is Williamstown,” she said. “The community loves these things and we are more than happy to have them come.”

At 6 p.m. Nov. 29, as everyone has finished another turkey sandwich, the lights displays throughout Belpre will be switched on.

The 25th Belpre Holiday Lights Festival displays will begin the day after Thanksgiving with more than 250 lighted pieces placed throughout the city.

Many of the lighted displays involve multiple pieces and more than 30 percent of these designs are animated.

The lighting displays include non-moving pictures, such as poinsettia, angels and a carousel, along with designs that tell stories, including the three most famous ships of Christopher Columbus the Pinta, Nina & Santa Maria; the ‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’ trio; and a bird fighting to catch a worm.

The Belpre Holiday Lights Festival will illuminate the city with holiday spirit between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. every night from the Friday following Thanksgiving through Jan. 2.

Christmas parades are also being planned with Vienna having its Dec. 14, with participant lineup at 10 a.m. on 51st Street, Kern said. The parade is expected to begin at 11 a.m. on Grand Central Avenue.

Those interested in having a float or group in the parade can get applications at the Vienna City Building, 609 29th St., or the city’s website at www.vienna-wv.com.

No monetary fee will be charged but the city does ask parade participants donate nonperishable food items at the side door to the Good Samaritan Center in Wayside United Methodist Church, 3001 Grand Central Ave.

“It is one way we can help others during the holidays,” Kern said.

The Belpre Festival of Lights Parade will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 30 and will include individuals and groups, floats, walking groups, carolers and horses and riders from throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Participants in the parade, which is sponsored by the lights committee and coordinated by the Belpre Lions Club, are required to be illuminated with Christmas lights and reflect the holiday spirit.

Continuing with tradition, Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet children at the bandstand gazebo in Civitan Park immediately following the parade, courtesy of the Belpre Woman’s Club.

Because of the evening darkness and for the safety of all involved, the parade committee asks that all candy be handed out, not thrown to the audience, a parade official said.