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Hazel Park, Madison Heights

November 14, 2012

Light up the night in Madison Heights and Hazel Park

Cities turn on the lights as holiday season gets started

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Light up the night in Madison Heights and Hazel Park
The Mitchell family of Madison Heights — Leah, 4; her brother Hayden, 6; and parents Nicole and Justin — waved in excitement as Santa came into view.

MADISON HEIGHTS/HAZEL PARK — Many communities like to hold tree-lighting ceremonies to kick off the holiday season, and the cities of Madison Heights and Hazel Park are no exception. 

Yuletide revelers will gather in front of Madison Heights City Hall, 300 W. 13 Mile near John R, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26. Festivities like ice carving start even earlier.

In Hazel Park, the ceremony is held at Viking Ice Arena, 1555 E. Woodward Heights, at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Here’s what to expect at each event.

Hazel Park
As always, Hazel Park’s lighting ceremony is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

“It’s celebrating the Christmas season in our city,” said Barbara Scott, Hazel Park’s recreation coordinator.

Santa will arrive via fire truck and receive the key to the city. While the crowds huddle outside awaiting Santa’s arrival, band and choir members from Hazel Park High will lead everyone in a Christmas carol sing-along.

The lights themselves comprise a real Christmas tree that was planted outside the ice arena earlier last year, and various wall-hanging ornaments.

“If it rains, everything moves inside,” Scott said. “Most of the lighting is on the outside, but there is some lighting on the inside, as well.”

She added that snow is another story.

“We love snow,” Scott said.

Once the lights are on and Santa has said hello to the children, everyone moves inside, where free hot chocolate will be served to attendees. The concessions stand in the ice arena will be selling other treats for a low price.

The highlight inside is the free ice skating being offered that night. Last year, the high demand meant some people were left without skates. As such, the city encourages everyone to bring their own skates, if they have them.

“Everyone has a good time, both the kids and their parents,” Scott said.

Madison Heights
The Monday after Thanksgiving is when Civic Center Plaza in Madison Heights will light up in front of City Hall and in the library yard at the corner of 13 Mile and Brush.

The electricity for the lights is all privately funded, to the tune of roughly $775 for the period from then on
through the first week of January.

The festivities at the lighting ceremony are also privately funded, and sponsors are still being accepted. The deadline for donations is Nov. 16; all donors will have their names featured on signage at the event.

The feel-good event starts as early as 5 p.m. Jim Bur, an ice sculptor from Clarkston who has placed first and second in years past at the Frankenmuth Ice Festival, will be demonstrating his craft with two pre-made, holiday-themed ice sculptures and a third work in progress by the front steps of City Hall.

“If people want to see him, come before 6:30 p.m.,” said Kirby Rochester, recreation coordinator for Madison Heights. “He’ll start between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and we hope he’ll have it wrapped by 6:15 p.m. so the band can start playing. As of right now, he’s keeping the sculptures secret, but I’ve seen some of his work, and he is amazing.”

Free hot chocolate and free Santa-shaped sugar cookies will be provided. The Oakland County Mobile Stage Unit will be set up nearby, on which the brass band from John Page Middle School will perform.

Two live reindeer, from Old Fashioned Santa & Company in Milford, will be in a pen for feeding and petting. The mayor will give a speech from the lit-up gazebo, and Santa himself will arrive by fire truck to turn on the lights. He’ll then sit with children in the library, letting parents take free pictures.

As always, the Madison Heights Goodfellows will be accepting donations of canned food and other nonperishable food items. The event is about spreading all kinds of cheer.

“This is a gathering right before the holidays get into full swing,” Rochester said. “It’s a free event, something nice to come out and enjoy. It gets everyone in the community together and in the spirit.”

In Madison Heights, the lighting ceremony will be at Madison Heights City Hall, 300 W. 13 Mile near John R, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26. In Hazel Park, the ceremony will be held at Viking Ice Arena, 1555 E. Woodward Heights, at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20.

The donation deadline for sponsors of the Madison Heights event is Friday, Nov. 16. Call the Department of Public Services at (248) 589-2294.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.