The city of Dayton kicks off a series of family and holiday events for 2009 Thanksgiving weekend with the Grande Illumination and Dayton’s Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights Friday, November 27, from 4 to 9 p.m. The celebration will take place in Courthouse Square.
The festival is a month-long celebration that has been kindling the holiday spirit downtown for more than 35 years. This free event marks the beginning of the Dayton Holiday Festival.
“The Grande Illumination & Dayton Children’s Parade Spectacular in Lights is a great night for the entire family to come downtown,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “It is a magical night and is guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.”
After the tree lighting ceremony, more than 100,000 lights will illuminate the floats and units in the Dayton Children’s Parade. The 45-minute parade will feature a variety of festive floats, entertainers, animals and several surprises.
Other activities planned for the evening include live musical entertainment, carnival rides and games, holiday crafts, horse-drawn wagon rides and a gingerbread house display. The majority of the activities are free so that everyone in the community can enjoy them.
The Dayton Holiday Festival continues through the month of December with activities like the Family Movie Series at The Neon, the Tike’s Shop, Virginia Kettering’s Holiday Train Display, animated window displays and entertainment in the Schuster Center Wintergarden.
Dayton Holiday Festival Schedule 2009
Dayton Children’s Parade – More than 100,000 lights will illuminate the floats and other units in the parade. The parade starts at 7:45 p.m. The route: W. Second St. to Main St., south on Main St. to Fourth St., and then west on Fourth St.
Main Stage Entertainment – Enjoy live entertainment on the Courthouse Square stage. Performances begin around 4 p.m. Groups scheduled to perform include the Reece Lincoln Band, Dancing Divas, the Schuster Center Children’s Choir and the Schuster Center Celebration Choir.
HollyLights on the Square – This colorful light show in Courthouse Square will begin shortly after the Grande Illumination. The lights will “dance” in synchronization with classic holiday tunes. HollyLights on the Square will continue during scheduled hours until January 3.
Gingerbread Homes for the Holidays Contest – The sweet entries for this contest will be on display in the Old Court House on Friday, November 27. The top amateur and professional houses will each receive $500. Winners will be announced on the Main Stage before the tree lighting.
The Holiday Village – The Holiday Village in the lobby of Kettering Tower is a favorite stop for children during the Grande Illumination. At Time Warner Cable’s “Dial-An-Elf” shop, kids can speak to one of Santa’s helpers and share their wish list! Kids can also make-and-take simple holiday crafts and play free carnival games.
Street Fair on Third – Children won’t want to miss this holiday street fair! Free rides will be setup on Third Street between Main and Ludlow Streets.
Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides – From 4 to 8 p.m., horse-drawn wagons will pick up passengers at the corner of Second and Main Sts. for a nostalgic ride through downtown. Rides are $1 per person. Lines can be long, so come early!
“Sounds of the Season” – Come enjoy some of the area’s finest choirs. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the lobby of Fifth Third Center, located at 1 S. Main Street, will be alive with the sounds of the season. The performances will end just before the tree lighting.
The Tike’s Shop – For decades, children in Dayton have been able to shop for their loved ones in a store that’s just their size. The shop will be located in the Schuster Center Wintergarden near the entrance at Ludlow and Second Streets, and will officially open the day of the Grande Illumination from 3 to 9 p.m. While you’re there, relive the magic of Rike’s Animated Holiday Windows, on display in the Wintergarden! The Tike’s Shop will be open on selected dates through December 23.
Junior League of Dayton’s Holiday Hunt – Kids begin this fun scavenger hunt by checking in at the Junior League booth on Courthouse Square. Each participant receives a map of participating merchants and a goody bag for collecting their treasures. The Holiday Hunt begins at 4 p.m. and continues until 7 p.m. to allow all the kids to get back to the Square in time for the tree lighting ceremony. Tickets are free but limited to the first 1,000 children.