The sky over downtown Springfield explodes as fireworks conclude the Holiday in the City festivities Saturday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Ring in the holiday season with fireworks this weekend

The people have spoken: Different weekend, same spirit and maybe even more holiday cheer.

Holiday in the City, Springfield’s annual kickoff to the holiday season, is moving this year to Saturday, Dec. 1, a week later than the traditional Thanksgiving weekend spot.

SantaLand, live entertainment, numerous food options, the grand tree illumination and Santa’s arrival capped by fireworks will be part of the fun, along with new attractions beginning in the downtown core block.

The event is free and presented by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Juliann Ianni and her daughter Allison pose for picture with the ice sculptures at Holiday in the City. Bill Lackey/Staff

Chris Schutte, Chamber vice president, Destination Marketing and Communications, and other organizers have listened to what would make the event better since they took over in 2016.

Several families, including a number of committee members, mentioned they couldn’t attend Holiday in the City as travels take them out of town for Thanksgiving weekend.

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Others pointed out the annual Ohio State-Michigan football game runs interference, although it ends prior to when the festivities get going.

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Frosty the Snowman walks through the crowd Saturday during Holiday in the City. Bill Lackey/Staff

With those concerns in mind, a public survey was taken and 90 percent of the responses favored the switch to a week later.

“We’ve committed for this year and the response on Facebook has been ecstatic,” Schutte said. “Thanksgiving is a very busy weekend in general. What some people don’t realize is the second Saturday after Thanksgiving was the original weekend for Holiday in the City.”

The unofficial kickoff will be the opening of SantaLand, which returns to the Heritage Center from 1 to 5 p.m. Schutte said anyone who is still in line at 5 will be able to visit Santa, but the cutoff will be maintained to let Santa get ready to make his grand entrance at the tree lighting.

SantaLand will also be open every Saturday through Christmas. 

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Tucker Hensel, 2, watches a holiday train puff past him in one of the train displays in downtown Springfield Saturday for Holiday in the City. Bill Lackey/Staff

During the same time frame, the Clark County Public Library will recreate a life-sized interactive version of the classic board game “Candy Land” where kids ages 17 and under with adult supervision can participate in and win sweet rewards (while supplies last).

Official activities begin at 5 p.m. with live entertainment with a local feel again as country duo Hasting and Co., led by Northwestern graduate Kate Hasting, performs at 5 p.m. on the main plaza stage.

Singer/songwriter Griffin House will take the stage at 6:30. Schutte said organizers had been trying to bring House in for a couple of years.

“It’s difficult to book on Thanksgiving weekend and with this date we have our pick of performers,” he said.

A second stage for choirs and other performers has been added with full sound system by the community tree. Kids can enjoy a bigger carousel and trackless train, and the number of food vendors has grown to 18.

Food trucks will again be in three locations — North Fountain Avenue, South Limestone Street and Main Street, also known as Eat Street.

“People wanted more options, shorter lines and to be more spread out, so we’ve done it,” Schutte said.

A new addition will be a live nativity scene with live animals and actors on the hill where the ice carver was in previous years. He’ll still return at the base of the plaza.

Santa will arrive at 6:30 p.m. for the grand illumination to the accompaniment of choirs and marching bands on the esplanade stage, with the grand finale of the fireworks at 7:30.

“Holiday in the City has been such a great tradition, but without the many volunteers and sponsors it doesn’t exist,” Schutte said. “We’re thankful for them when we see what a nice moment it is for the city.” 


What: Holiday in the City

Where: Downtown Springfield

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 5-8 p.m.

Admission: Free

More info: facebook

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