Live music at multiple venues, illuminated ice sculptures lining the streets, not one or two but three art gallery exhibits, small businesses open late, and Santa Claus lighting up the Diamond Park Christmas tree: Light Up Night 2021 is sure to draw visitors to downtown on Friday night.
And there’s more.
“There will be cookies pretty much everywhere,” said Heather Fish, president of the Meadville Independent Business Alliance. “I think it’s gonna be so much fun. I feel like there is literally something for everyone.
Families looking for a fun night out, couples in the mood for a romantic night out, people looking to hang out with friends – Light Up Night can accommodate everyone, according to Fish.
The party starts at 5 p.m. and participating downtown stores will stay open until 8 p.m., with some keeping the lights on even later.
Santa Claus, the traditional star of the show, will appear at Diamond Park at 6 a.m. for the tree lighting, but before and after his appearance, visitors can find free cookies and hot chocolate at various locations around proximity.
They can also discover 38 ice sculptures that line the sidewalks stretching from Diamond Park to Chestnut Street to Market Street. Among the still images are masters of hell, a woman in a wine barrel, a pizza-themed Christmas tree and gingerbread men, according to Fish.
Fans of sculpted ice, however, will need to visit the Market House to find out which sculpture has been chosen for the oldest continuously operated market structure in the state.
Market manager Kerstin Ams declined to reveal the nature of the sculpture.
“People will have to come and find out,” she said Wednesday. “I’m excited about it, however.”
The Market House is ready for visitors, according to Ams. Volunteers decorated a dozen trees outside over the weekend. Inside, another tree is decorated with natural, handmade ornaments that can be purchased with profits benefiting both Market House and Women’s Services Inc.
While her husband performs his duties at Diamond Park, Ms Claus will be sitting outside the Market House, reading vacation-themed stories. Nearby, vendors at Market House Fat Hawk Farms and ZEST Kitchen and Pantry will be squeezing apples for fresh cider. Indoors, Ams is hoping to see what has been a busy holiday season so far, but was hesitant to make any predictions about the size of the crowd.
“It’s hard to know,” she said. “I think people are going to end up with all of the ice sculptures, but this continues to be a weird year.”
While the evening will be back to normal in many ways, some elements will be significantly different or missing altogether.
Inside the market house, for example, masks will be encouraged, Ams said, but outside there will be no horse-drawn carriage rides. Ams said she hopes to bring back horse-drawn carriage rides next year.
Another key difference will particularly affect children: Santa will not meet with young people to discuss their hopes for the morning of December 25, according to Fish. For those in need of a last minute consultation, however, the Meadville Central Fire Department plans to take Santa on a tour of the city on December 18. Afterwards, Santa will meet the people at the Crawford Professional Building, 231 Chestnut St.
Despite these differences, some things remain much the same.
“We will be distributing cookies as usual,” Ams said of Market House. In recent years, volunteers have provided approximately 1,200 cookies of various styles for Light Up Night, with a similar number expected to be available on Friday.
For those in need of a cookie break, Fish noted that art gallery exhibits will be held at various times at French Creek Coffee and Tea Co. LLC, Voodoo Brewing Co. and Meadville Council on the Arts, located on the second floor of the Maison du Marché. Shows at the Cafe and Market House will also feature live music while the Voodoo exhibit will feature “live carpentry,” according to the social media announcements, and visitors can pick up a brush to participate. if they wish.
Another element of the evening that will remain the same is the official proclamation posted on the Diamond Park gazebo just before Santa Claus lights the tree. Mayor LeRoy Stearns, in his final weeks in office, will issue the proclamation marking the occasion for the last time. In his closing remarks at the Meadville City Council meeting on Wednesday, Stearns said he invited Mayor-elect Jaime Kinder to join him at the event.
Between the excitement of seeing people downtown, the anticipation of kids eager for the holidays, and the “giving and caring spirit” that is usually evident, Stearns said he looked forward to it. which will be one of his last ceremonial duties as mayor.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do,” he said. “I hope people will get through this.”
Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected]
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Light Up Night takes place on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Activities include lighting the trees at Diamond Park with Santa at age 6 and an ice sculpture walk featuring 38 illuminated characters in and around Diamond Park, on Chestnut Street and on Market Street. Free cookies and hot chocolate will be available at several locations along the way. The event coincides with the Meadville Independent Business Alliance’s First Friday, which will feature many downtown stores open late. Art gallery exhibitions, musical performances and more will take place at various locations.