Canal Winchester magically turns into a winter wonderland for two nights as the village celebrates the holiday season with its annual "Christmas in the Village" on Dec. 5 and 6 from 6-9 p.m.
"It’s a great time and everything is free," said Canal Winchester Community Affairs Director Carrie Hoover.
The festivities begin with a parade featuring Santa Claus at 5:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The jolly old elf rides through the village aboard an antique fire truck and then returns downtown to light the village tree, before dashing to the Huntington Bank, 37 S. High St., where he will visit with children, listen to their wishes, and take their letters.
Santa and his entourage, the Labor Day Festival Queen and her court, are also collecting donations for the local food pantry, which can be dropped off at the bank until 9 p.m. Hoover said a photographer is not available this year, so parents are urged to bring their own camera if they want a picture of their child visiting with Santa. Free refreshments will be provided by Canal Winchester Senior Citizens.
"We will have choirs perform each night. On Friday, we have the Canal Winchester High School Choir and on Saturday, the World Harvest Choir is performing," said Hoover. "World Harvest is also providing roving carolers throughout the event. Horse-drawn carriage rides begin at the Huntington building and across the street there will be an antique tractor hayride."
Back by popular demand, said Hoover, is the gingerbread house contest. All gingerbread house contest entries, which must be homemade, will be on display at Ferne’s Attic at 24 N. High St.
Contestants are divided into two categories: adults (ages 13 and older) and children (ages 12 and under). Entries should be dropped off at Ferne’s Attic between noon and 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4 or between noon and 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5. Judging will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6.
The winner of the gingerbread house contest will receive a $25 gift certificate to Kroger and two runner-ups will each receive a $5 gift card to Shade on the Canal.
Entrants who wish to keep their gingerbread houses should pick them up from Ferne’s Attic between noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7 or between noon and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9.
Stradley Place, in the heart of Canal Winchester, will be the scene of ice shavings and burning embers as artisans in ice wield power tools to coax images out of frozen blocks of water to the delight of young and old alike.
"There will be a fire and ice display by an ice sculptor who creates a fireplace out of ice with an actual fire inside," Hoover said. "We’ll have carnival games in Chase Bank and children’s crafts in Town Hall. The village will be handing out free popcorn near Stradley Park and, weather permitting, there will be live llamas in front of the iBeam office."
Model trains wind their way through displays set up by members of the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society in the Frances Steube Community Center, 22 S. Trine St. The village’s Interurban Station, host to the train display in 2007, is closed to the public as renovations continue inside the 100-year-old-plus structure. The community center is also the site for a business bazaar conducted by Christmas in the Village co-sponsor Main Street Canal Winchester (MSCW).
The bazaar features business association members and their products or services, many of which are home-based. In addition to the bazaar, MSCW is also holding a drawing for a gift basket containing items donated by participating bazaar businesses and worth hundreds of dollars, on Dec. 8.
"There will be all kinds of activities the two days of Christmas in the Village," said Hoover, "and parking is available throughout the village, such as behind Stradley Place and in front of the community center."
For information, including Santa’s parade route and a list of activities, contact Main Street Canal Winchester at 270-5053, on the Web at mainstreetcanalwinchester.org or the Canal Winchester Municipal Office at 837-7493.