CHRISTMAS IS still months away. Martins Ferry officials, however, have yuletide thoughts dancing in their respective heads.
Police Sgt. Beth Scales is chairing an inaugural Christmas event of major proportions in the Purple City. Scales noted that the city's annual Christmas parade is triggering a two-day holiday extravaganza.
"I am excited about this event. It has the chance to be a really nice community happening," Sgt. Scales said. "We have a beautiful city park and it will be a perfect site to help usher in the Christmas season."
The initial Christmas in the Park will coincide with the city's annual Christmas parade planned for Friday, Nov. 29 at 6:30. Prior to the parade, a lighting ceremony will be conducted at 5 p.m. in the park. That will mark the onset of two days of festive activities.
"We are extending invitations to all businesses and church groups to take part, and we expect many vendors and crafters will be setting up shop in the park," Sgt. Scales noted. "We are also planning to hold a tree-decorating contest. There will be a fee to enter as we will be providing the trees. Prizes will be awarded and we hope the trees are donated to those in need after the event.
"We are also hoping to have a portable ice-skating rink to be installed in the park for the event," Sgt. Scales said. "A firm in Wheeling installs them. We will have to do some major fundraising to make that happen. But it would be a great centerpiece for the festivities."
She is also hoping to make horse and sleigh rides a reality.
The Saturday portion has no timetable etched in stone, as the length will likely be dictated by how well the event is playing out that night. It is earmarked to start around 11 a.m. and may run until 10 p.m. if the participation calls for it.
Christmas in the Park is being made possible by a coalition of organizations and individuals. The city police and fire departments are foundations in the planning as well as several other city officials.
Something of this magnitude can use as much community support as possible. Organizers are asking for donations of holiday decorations and lights for the park. Obviously, monetary donations are always welcome.
"We are not looking to make a profit on this. We realize that we have a lot of fundraising to make it happen. Any money we would make would be poured back into community events," Sgt. Scales said. "We hope the business community steps up and embraces this. If all goes well, Christmas in the Park may expand to three days."
Another planning session is scheduled for Sept. 18 after the city council meeting. Anyone wishing to help is urged to attend. For those unable to make the meeting and who still want to donate or assist should call Sgt. Scales at 740-576-0056.
Kapral may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org