Article by Miranda Mullings
This Saturday, November 18, the holiday season will officially begin in downtown Springfield. At 7 p.m, the downtown Christmas tree in Park Central Square will be lit.
Rusty Worley, the executive director of the Downtown Springfield Association, said there has been a Christmas tree in Park Central Square for the past 20 years, but the lighting ceremony is a tradition that started around five years ago.
Formerly, the city did a tree lighting at Jordan Valley Park while a ceremony went on at the downtown square. This year will be the first year that the events are combined, hosted by both the City of Springfield and Downtown Springfield.
The combination of the two events will provide an atmosphere that everyone can enjoy. There will be activities for both children and adults.
“This will bring many more children’s activities during the first part of the evening (including Santa and several holiday characters) with Downtown’s ‘date night’ programming (such as the live band and horse drawn carriage rides) later in the evening,” said Worley.
There will be activities for kids and families from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., such as pictures with Santa, free hot chocolate, a parade, story time in the Park Central Branch Library (children get free books), and a performance by “America’s piano showman”, Dino Kartsonakis. Worley said these activities always draw great crowds of families.
From 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., head a few blocks over to the Mediacom Ice Park for free ice skating; just pay the $3 skate rental fee. Right next to the ice rink is Jordan Valley Park, which is full of Christmas lights to enjoy when you are done skating.
Later in the evening, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., couples and others can take a ride on the free horse-drawn carriages at Park Central Square, and listen to live music.
Worley said it will be “one of the most iconic places to take a holiday selfie in Springfield.”
While you are downtown for the Christmas tree lighting event, do some Christmas gift shopping at the plethora of local stores in the area, like 5 Pound Apparel, BookMarx, and others.
“We always encourage everyone to shop local, especially when coming Downtown for these holiday events. Downtown is the home of local retail and restaurants, so it’s the perfect place to find gifts with extra meaning,” Worley said.
The Downtown Springfield Association’s website, itsalldowntown.com, just came out with a holiday shopping guide to help you find local holiday gifts.
Head over to Park Central Square this Saturday night to kick off the holiday season in downtown Springfield.