Downtown Farmington to celebrate Holly Days

By: Mary Beth Almond | Farmington Press | Published November 28, 2012

 Nora Flaherty, 7, of Farmington warms up with a hot drink while checking out a cool ice sculpture during Holly Days in downtown Farmington last year. The ice sculptures will be back this year.

Nora Flaherty, 7, of Farmington warms up with a hot drink while checking out a cool ice sculpture during Holly Days in downtown Farmington last year. The ice sculptures will be back this year.

File photo by Andrew Potter

Downtown Farmington will help residents get ready for the holidays during its annual Holly Days event Dec. 1.

Downtown Development Authority Events Planner Janet Bloom said the event was designed to help kick off the holiday shopping season with fun for the whole family.

“It’s a nice way for the community to come together and enjoy some great free holiday activities downtown, thanks to the event sponsors,” she said.

A favorite Holly Days feature, according to Bloom, is Farmington’s own “North Pole,” which includes the chance for kids to visit with Santa and get a free family picture taken with him from noon to 4 p.m. at the Sundquist Pavilion, 33113 Grand River Ave.

“That’s always a popular thing to do. People gather their family members — some even bring their pets — and they get a great shot with Santa to take home with them that same day,” she said.

Also at the Sundquist Pavilion is the Greens and Gifts Market, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“You can find very unique items from artisans and the freshest decorations for your home, so it’s always a popular activity, too,” Bloom added.

While at the pavilion, community members can check out ice-carving demonstrations from Oakland Community College culinary students at noon or go see the Tree of Wishes, which was launched last year. Kids and parents are encouraged to bring a new pair of socks or mittens, to be donated to a local charity, when they visit the “North Pole.” Kids also can write their Christmas wish on an ornament and hang it on the Tree of Wishes.

“The tree was literally covered last year. There wasn’t a bit of green left, so that was really wonderful,” Bloom said.

After visiting the “North Pole,” families can head over to “Santa’s Workshop,” housed at Mike Greer Photography Studio, 33316 Grand River Ave. “Santa’s Workshop,” held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., includes a kids’ holiday craft area; a holiday story-time presentation from Mrs. Claus at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.; cookies and warm beverages; and a free gift-wrapping service.

Patrons can hunt for holiday gifts at the Salem Church Holly Days Craft Show — which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Salem United Church of Christ, 33424 Oakland St. — or The Vines Flower and Garden Shop Christmas Open House — which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 33245 Grand River Ave.

The Salvation Army Band will be strolling through downtown from 10 a.m. to noon, and Salvation Army volunteers will be collecting donations in their Red Kettles for local families in need.

While enjoying the free activities, Bloom encourages patrons to support the merchants downtown by shopping and dining locally.

“While the community is enjoying the Holly Days, we want to make sure they also have a chance to visit with our different merchants and restaurants, and carve out some time to enjoy some great shopping and eating in downtown Farmington,” she said.

The fun continues at the Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand River in Farmington, which will show two free holiday movies Dec. 1. “The Polar Express” — which runs 1 hour 40 minutes — will play at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. “Shrek the Halls” — which runs 21 minutes — will play at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., and 1:15 p.m. Movie-goers are encouraged to bring non-perishable food, new, unwrapped toys or a donation to the Farmington Area Goodfell-ows. Approximately 50 percent of concession sales will also go to the Goodfellows.

In the evening, the Gov. Warner Mansion — 33805 Grand River Ave. in Farmington — will host a Holiday Open House from 5-7 p.m. Mansion volunteer Sharon Bernath said the house will be decorated for Christmas, docents will be dressed in Victorian clothing, Christmas carols will be played on the Gov. Warner Mansion piano, and refreshments will be served in the Carriage House. While the open house is free this year, mansion volunteers and staff will be accepting donations at the door.

“We usually charge an entrance fee to get into the mansion, but we are going to just collect donations instead this year. It’s kind of like our gift to the city for supporting us through the whole year,” Bernath said.

The Farmington Area Jaycees Holiday Tree Lighting — complete with caroling, a visit from Santa and light refreshments in the Carriage House — will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Gov. Warner Mansion. Those who attend are asked to bring a toy for the Toys for Tots. For more information, call (877) 411-FAJC.

For more information about Holly Days, visit