Eastside holiday events
The holiday season is here and Reynoldsburg and Pickerington are ready to help residents celebrate the magic with bright lights, horse-drawn carriage rides and visits from Santa Claus.
Mayor John O’Brien kicks off Pickerington’s holiday season at 4 p.m. Dec. 2 by turning on hundreds of lights on the city’s Mitten Tree. Donations of hats, scarves, mittens and gloves can be dropped off at city hall, 100 Lockville Road.
“The donations from the Mitten Tree go to Family Services of Fairfield County,” City Recreation Coordinator Don Ross said. “We have done this for over a decade.”
Following the event, the Olde Pickerington Village Business Association is joining with the city’s recreation department in co-sponsoring the Olde Village Holiday Gathering from 5 to 8:30 p.m. with carriage rides, strolling carolers, free children’s activities and a visit from Santa. The annual tree lighting ceremony takes place at 7:30 p.m.
“The crowds for the holiday gathering depend on the weather. We will have a few hundred people,” Ross said. “Many come for the tree lighting.”
Dine with the jolly old elf and his helpers at a special breakfast on Dec. 3 at the Pickerington Senior Center, 150 Hereford Drive. There are three separate seatings: 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Tickets are $5 per person.
The event is free for children 2 and younger and tickets are available through Dec. 1 at the recreation department, 100 Lockville Road.
Several hundred people of all ages are expected to attend the breakfast and profits from the annual activity benefit the senior center.
Children also may get an early start on holiday gift giving at the event’s Secret Santa Shoppe, indulge their creative side at a Kids Craft Station, and enjoy holiday music while waiting to get their picture taken with Santa. A bake sale is also available for sweet treats to take home.
Little ones mailing letters to Santa can deposit their requests in a special North Pole Express Mailbox at city hall now through Dec. 11. Children should include their name and return address if they want Santa to write back to them.
For more information, call the recreation department at (614) 833-2211 or visit online at www.pickerington.net or www.pickeringtonvillage.com.
In Reynoldsburg, the holidays start with the lighting of city hall at 7 p.m. Nov. 28.
Before the switch is thrown illuminating thousands of twinkling lights lining the municipal complex, a local elementary school choir will entertain residents with sounds of the season.
“Inside city hall, the Tomato Festival queen and her court, along with the festival’s senior king and queen, and the Reynoldsburg Community Association, will be serving cookies and hot cocoa,” said Mary Hudson, executive director of the city’s Visitors and Community Activities Bureau.
According to Hudson, the event is a decades-old tradition that draws many residents to the downtown area.
“Because of the economy, we’re finding that people are doing a lot more things in their community, like the tree-lighting or Christmas on the Towne, which takes place the following Saturday and is also free,” Hudson said.
On Dec. 3, Reynoldsburg’s downtown will be alive with the sights, sounds and tastes of the holiday with Christmas on the Towne from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Many local merchants will be open and serving refreshments. Carriage rides are available for a canned/boxed food or cash donation to the Helping Hands Food Pantry as well, and hands-on activity stations for children are located throughout the area.
“For the first time, the pantry will be open for tours so the public can see where their donations go,” Hudson said. “Santa Claus will be at the Bow Wow Boutique, along with a Secret Santa Shop sponsored by the Reynoldsburg High School Band Boosters.”
Children may decorate cookies at the Vineyard Church, which is also sponsoring a pancake breakfast, and Lowes is installing a train display at Cotner Funeral Home.
The Tomato Festival Committee will serve tomato soup, and participating businesses are conducting a treasure hunt for a gift basket.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of an event T-shirt benefit Helping Hands.
“We’re really excited about this,” Hudson said. “This is important to the Olde Reynoldsburg area of town and a lot of merchants want to showcase what they have. It’s a great event for the entire family.”
In connection with Christmas on the Towne, the Livingston House is featuring a Civil War Christmas and a shuttle will be available to take people to and from the historical site, located at 1792 Graham Road.
Another long-standing Reynoldsburg tradition continues as well this year. Elves will pick up letters for Santa from their special mailbox at the city’s municipal building. The deadline for letters is Dec. 19.