Santa waves to the crowd as he arrives in a Springfield Fire Truck Saturday during the Holiday in the City festival. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Springfield doesn’t let rain dampen its holiday spirit

Walking in a wet wonderland was fine since there were lights, music, food and fireworks for those attending Holiday in the City in downtown Springfield on Saturday.

The 18th annual event, presented by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, saw heavy rains throughout the day which subsided by late afternoon when the holiday season magic overcame the bad weather.

PHOTOS: 2018 Holiday in the City Festival

This was the first time in several years the event moved from its traditional slot of the Saturday following the Thanksgiving holiday. Visitors didn’t seem to mind.

“December is closer to Christmas,” said Olivia Keyton, a fifth grade student at Snyder Park Elementary. “The lights are beautiful and the fireworks.”

Her mom, Cheryl Keyton, said she was going to downtown regardless of the weather as Olivia doesn’t want to miss the new tradition they’ve started.

“It’s a nice thing the city does,” Cheryl Keyton said.

The Zerkle family of Springfield has attended five consecutive Holiday in the City events, through cold, rain and wind, also celebrating a 2-year-old’s birthday along with the other fun and awaiting the fireworks.

Activities began in the early afternoon with the opening of SantaLand in the Heritage Center of Clark County, along with a new attraction – a life-size version of the classic board game “Candy Land” at the Clark County Public Library kids could play for candy and other prizes.

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Library officials said the attraction was well-received and will likely become an annual part of the event.

Another new addition to Holiday in the City was a live nativity scene with actors and goats, rabbits, a small horse and donkey. Children flocked to pet the animals, all rescues, which were supplied by Mr. Cowpie’s Party Animals of Northern Kentucky.

Owner Doug Gehner said he was impressed with the number of things to do at the event, especially enjoying the music while tending to his animals.

Country group Hasting and Co., led by Springfield native Kate Hasting, opened the live entertainment with a set ranging from its latest single, “American Love,” to holiday favorites like “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer.”

“I’ve said it a million times, nothing is better than coming home,” Hasting said. “Christmas is my favorite holiday and I feel honored to play one of the area’s largest events.”

Fellow Springfield singer/songwriter Griffin House also performed, which gave people a chance to forget about the rain which began falling again during his set.

Santa Claus arrived to lead the city tree grand illumination and fireworks lit the night sky to cap the event.

Linda Speakes, a direct care provider accompanying two charges from Flora’s Group Homes, summed up the fun of the day as they awaited the fireworks, funnel cakes in hand.

“They’ll be talking about this the rest of the night,” she said of the pair. “And I’m just in heaven.”

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