Fireworks burst over downtown Springfield during the 2016 Holiday in the City festival evening. Bill Lackey/Staff

Find out what’s new at Springfield’s big Holiday in the City

Santa Claus will rise to new heights as he ushers in Springfield’s holiday season this weekend the 17th annual Holiday in the City.

The festival, one of the biggest events in downtown Springfield, will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, on City Hall Plaza. It’s free and will go on rain or shine.

When the Chamber of Greater Springfield’s Convention and Visitors Bureau took over Holiday in the City in 2016, it added a fresh feel with live music, food trucks and other innovations that were largely well received.

“I look at last year as a great success,” said Chris Schutte, chamber vice president of destination marketing and communications. “We had the most people we’d had in five years as far as sheer attendance. We added a few new wrinkles, many of which will continue. It was also a learning experience for us.”

The organizers listened to feedback, Schutte said, and tweaked things to improve the experience more this year.

The first was to move the hub of activity on the plaza near City Hall, which will be done up in holiday decor, bringing the main entertainment stage there, and adding stage another near the community tree, where acts will alternate.

Live music will play continuously from 5 p.m. until the fireworks. Performers include the American Landscape, Pleasant Street Blues Band, the Shawnee High School Choir and headliners SWAGG.

The feedback also called for more Christmas music, which Schutte said will mix with the bands’ other songs.

Another popular addition was food trucks on “Eat Street.” While long lines were a setback in 2016, the event will have 14 trucks with a wide variety of choices in two locations starting at 5 p.m., as well as a vendors market for even more selections.

A concern in recent years has been the conflict with the Ohio State-Michigan football game. Schutte reminded that Holiday in the City was a tradition the Saturday after Thanksgiving long before the game was moved to that date, and there will be plenty going on for those who come afterward.

SantaLand will move back to its original location in the Heritage Center opening at 3 p.m. and more activities for kids and other displays will be next door at the Myers Market Building.

Santa will arrive on a fire truck for the grand illumination and be hoisted in a basket to the top of the tree.

“When my kids were little, Santa was hard to see, so this way kids can get a good look at him,” Schutte said.

The fireworks display will again be shot from the back of the Key Bank building, where Schutte said people found the views much better than the previous arrangement.

The Chamber will continue to tweak and build Holiday in the City in coming years, Schutte said.

“If our feedback and engagement are an indication, we may have more people than last year,” he said. “We hope everyone will celebrate this great event with us.”

For a full list of activities and times, go to www.facebook.com/holidayinthecityspfld/.

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