Ferndale, Berkley trying to move on with holiday-themed events

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 20, 2020

 Santa Claus rides on his sleigh float during last year’s Holiday Lights Parade. Berkley will attempt to put on a Holiday Lights Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 5, but organizers ask that residents do not attend in person and instead watch from home as Santa rides through the entire city.

Santa Claus rides on his sleigh float during last year’s Holiday Lights Parade. Berkley will attempt to put on a Holiday Lights Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 5, but organizers ask that residents do not attend in person and instead watch from home as Santa rides through the entire city.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

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FERNDALE/BERKLEY — The month of December usually brings about several holiday events in the Ferndale and Berkley downtown districts.

Headlining the bunch were the two biggest events, Ferndale’s Holiday Ice Festival and Berkley’s Holiday Lights Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony. For one, however, the 2019 edition was its last.

The Holiday Ice Festival, where dozens of ice sculptures could be found in downtown Ferndale, will not happen in 2020, but that’s not due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Lena Stevens said it was decided last year, when the event held its 19th annual festival, that the DDA wouldn’t hold the event again.

“It’s kind of one of those festivals that kind of had its run and it had its heyday and probably was needing to kind of be rethought and reenvisioned anyway, because we would order the ice sculptures and a lot of times they would melt within hours,” she said. “It had just kind of declined in popularity a little bit, so we were actually looking forward this year to reimagining our holiday stuff anyway. So it worked out OK.”

The DDA was planning to create a new event for the holiday season in Ferndale, but the pandemic curtailed those plans. Instead, it is organizing a shop-local campaign called “Unbox the Holidays.”

Stevens said they want residents to ditch big box stores and shop at Ferndale businesses instead, and organizers hope with their campaign that they can make it easier for people to do so.

“We found all of (the businesses’) links citywide,” she said. “We worked really hard to bring those into one place.”

They also are organizing a citywide gift card program, in which a shopper can buy a gift card for someone and it can be used at a participating Ferndale merchant. Stevens said this program will continue past the holidays.

For more information on the campaign, visit www.unboxtheholidays.com.

In Berkley, organizers of the Holiday Lights Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony still are looking to put on the event on Saturday, Dec. 5, though it will be operated differently than past years because of coronavirus concerns.

Event Chairperson Cinda Coon said the parade will have a virtual aspect, and they’ll be streaming Santa Claus on his sleigh as he travels to City Hall for the traditional tree lighting. It also will be airing on the local cable network.

However, organizers do not want people to attend in person. Instead, residents will have the chance to see Santa from their homes.

“Santa is going to drive up and down every street in the city,” Coon said. “There’ll be no gathering. There will be no stopping. It’ll be Santa from the sleigh waving to all of the little boys and girls.”

Santa is set to cruise through the neighborhoods so children and everyone else can wave from their own porches, curbs and homes.

Coon said the parade will get going as soon as it gets dark, but she didn’t commit to a specific time, as they don’t want people gathering on the street. At the tree lighting, Mayor Dan Terbrack and his family will present Santa with the key to the city.

“It’s totally different,” she said of planning this year’s event, “but I wanted to bring some joy to the city, to the kids, to the parents.”

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