By Jason Wesseldyk
With all the snow that fell recently, it certainly is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
And it will look even more like Christmas when Plainwell and Otsego host their respective tree-lighting ceremonies.
Plainwell’s “Light Up the Night” holiday celebration is set for Friday, Dec. 2, with Otsego’s “Hometown Christmas” the following day.
Plainwell community development manager Denise Siegel is one of the organizers for “Light Up the Night,” which takes place in downtown Plainwell.
“This event has become a family tradition that grows every year as more and more people come down,” she said. “It’s such a fun and magical night.”
While the tree lighting is slated to take place at 7 p.m., “Light Up the Night” starts several hours earlier.
“Starting at 4 p.m., we encourage people to stroll downtown, along the Riverwalk and through Hicks Park,” Siegel said. “They can admire the beautiful window decorations in our shops, see the lights along the Riverwalk and enjoy the Cards in the Park that are designed and placed in the park by our community members, non-profit organizations and our local business community.”
Ransom District Library is also hosting a “Where’s Waldo” scavenger hunt.
DJ Jim Cox will begin playing holiday music at 4:30 p.m., with the Plainwell High School choir singing in the plaza by the Christmas tree at 6:30 p.m.
As part of the tree-lighting ceremony, Ransom Library director Joe Gross will read “The Night Before Christmas” and Plainwell mayor Brad Keeler will begin the countdown to the lighting.
The First United Methodist Church of Plainwell will provide cookies and hot chocolate throughout the evening, and Santa Claus will be available for visits following the tree lighting. Santa will be in his new Santa House, which was provided by Ace Hardware.
Plainwell’s Christmas parade will take place on Saturday, Dec. 3, starting at 1 p.m.
Also on Saturday, Dec. 3, Otsego’s “Hometown Christmas” returns to the downtown area.
Activities begin at noon with the Farmers Market at the Otsego Church of God. The market runs through 7 p.m.
The Christmas parade starts at 6 p.m., with the tree-lighting ceremony following at 6:30 p.m. Santa will be at the TOP Riverfront Pavilion from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., with cookie decorating sponsored by Consumers Energy. Santa will also be at the pavilion from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
“The parade is the pillar of the whole event, which families love to come out to watch,” Otsego-Plainwell Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Jenny Boerman said. “But the things our community has planned before and after the parade make this a whole late afternoon event.”
Those other activities include: children’s crafts at the Otsego Area Historical Museum from 3 to 6 p.m.; food trucks in the social district from 3 to 7 p.m.; caroling at the pavilion at 3:30 p.m.; the first annual .22 run from the pavilion to the social district at 3:30 p.m.; hayrides along the riverfront near the pavilion from 4 to 5:30 p.m.; free community dinner at the pavilion from 4 to 5:30 p.m.; and a live nativity in the pavilion area from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m.
“Most events prior to and after the parade will be located near the Otsego pavilion,” Boerman said. “This central location near the pavilion for most of the events is safe, centralized and beautiful with the river in the background, surrounded by the Christmas tree. The cards in the park will also be placed along the sidewalk along the river, so bring out the family and enjoy.”
Boerman said “Hometown Christmas” has become even more special this year due to its connection to Cyndi Trobeck, the late Otsego mayor who passed away last March following a battle with neurodegenerative disease.
Last year’s “Hometown Christmas” was the last event Trobeck helped plan before the onset of her disease.
“Cyndi took honor in her role of chairing the planning committee of this event, and we rallied behind her love of this Hometown Christmas event and her community,” Boerman said. “I personally loved working with her on this committee and missed her presence this year.
“We feel Cyndi would be happy to see some of her ideas from last year come to be this year.”