Downtown Springfield sparkles with Holiday in the City kickoff events

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The holiday season has arrived in Springfield. It became official Friday evening when Santa Claus arrived on a firetruck, was elevated more than 40 feet near the community tree and led a countdown to light it up to the cheer of the assembled crowd on the downtown esplanade.

This was just the beginning as Holiday in the City will offer five weeks of activities, events and special attractions tying into what is considered the most wonderful time of the year.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

What used to be a one-day event has been expanded over the years by the Greater Springfield Partnership, which presents Holiday in the City. The community still gets enthused on opening night, which included food trucks, live music, live ice sculpting, a toy train display, an outdoor market, costumed characters and, for the first time in several years, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

It also marked the return of perhaps the most popular addition to Holiday in the City in recent years, the outdoor ice-skating rink, in a new location on Market Alley between COHatch and the Heritage Center of Clark County.

Rylee Stir talked about skating the entire day, and she and mom Tiffany Stir were first in line and laced up their skates while other family members were glad to stay to the side.

“It’s fun. I’ve never skated outside, only inside at the (NTPRD) Chiller,” said Rylee, an eight-grader at Northwestern Middle School. The family was also eager to support the Northwestern Marching Band, which helped lead Santa in for the tree lighting.

With temperatures at a chilly 30 degrees, the band The Temps joked from the stage that it was three degrees warmer at the North Pole. This didn’t bother London King, who influenced her family – siblings Bentley, Rissa and Elsie and parents Andy and Kara – to stop for ice cream to start their evening.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

It was made easier as they watched the festivities from inside the warmth of COHatch after getting several photos with holiday characters.

“I’d eat ice cream even in a tornado,” London joked, adding her next move was to follow that up with purchasing candy.

One of the aspects Holiday in the City organizers emphasize is community coming together. Springfield High senior Ali Haleem came down to celebrate on his own and found former Global Impact STEM Academy classmates and friends Bri Artrip and Jake Thomas, also seniors, who watched the tree lighting together and caught up.

It was Artrip and Thomas’s first time at the event. She’d previously worked during the opening and was encouraged to come down to take in the atmosphere.

“I really like it. It’s the community coming together,” said Artrip.

The seniors said they’ll return to Holiday in the City in future weeks for carriage rides, which will be each Thursday, and other activities.

As Santa was several feet above the ground to light the tree, a young boy in the crowd shouted “Santa, be careful!” He must’ve heard the child’s advice, delaying the trip back north to visit children at the State Theater, which has undergone a renovation in recent years and the sight of a gathering of sponsors.

Hayley Moore was the first child to visit Santa and requested a piano and a watch. It was the perfect ending to the night for the Lagonda Elementary student, who also got photos with Holiday Barbie, appearing at Sip & Dipity, checked out the ice sculptures and tree lighting, did a craft and more.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“I can’t stop smiling. I love Christmas,” she said.

Holiday in the City activities will run through Jan. 6. For updates and upcoming activities, go to

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