Big crowd anticipated for holiday festival

The festival’s chairman expects to see a near-record crowd for the 13th annual Festival of Chimes & Lights on Dec 3.

City Councilman Jerry Childs said the addition of the Jingle Bell Run/Walk and the popularity of other festival favorites like the Pooch and Purr Parade and the lighting of the community Christmas tree should draw around 8,000 people to downtown. He thinks the numbers will approach the all-time high of 10,000 visitors the festival had during its 10th anniversary in 2008.

“Downtown will be lit up and places will be packed,” Childs said. “It’s going to be a great time.”

Childs, the chairman of the festival, expects to see loads of kids in attendance at the festival. The hayrides, marionette performance and three showings of the movie “Home Alone” make the festival a real draw for area families.

“Parts of downtown become a kid’s world,” Childs said.

Proceeds from the Jingle Bell Run will go to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, giving this year’s festival a chance to act as a fundraiser, Childs said. While he said it’s important that other events in the festival remain free to the public, he thinks an entrance fee for the inaugural run gives the city a chance to give to others; keeping in line with the holiday spirit.

Childs has visited the festival for more than 10 years and acted as the festival’s chairman for four. Some of his favorite activities involve looking at the decorated boats moored at the marina and the lighting of the town Christmas tree. He also relishes the yearly arrival of one Kris Kringle.

“I like when Santa and Mrs. Claus come in,” Childs said. “It signifies the start to a magical time of year.”


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