Magic holiday fun kicks off this weekend downtown

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published November 18, 2015

 Junior Girl Scout Samara Scheel, then 9, of Royal Oak, marches in the 2014 Holiday Magic Parade. The event will take place downtown this year on Nov. 22.

Junior Girl Scout Samara Scheel, then 9, of Royal Oak, marches in the 2014 Holiday Magic Parade. The event will take place downtown this year on Nov. 22.

File photo by Donna Agusti

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ROYAL OAK — Family, friends and fun will combine this weekend for a downtown tradition to start the holiday season.

The 14th annual Holiday Magic Parade will begin marching along downtown streets at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22. The parade will start at Lincoln and Washington and head north on Washington to Fourth Street, where it will head west and end at Lafayette.

“It’s the first thing that happens in downtown Royal Oak that kicks off the holiday season, so I think before a lot of the craziness starts — the Thanksgiving and all the parties at school and families and work and all — it’s just a nice way to kick off the holidays before it gets too crazy for people,” said Stephanie McIntyre, event and marketing manager for the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people lined the downtown streets last year, and McIntyre said she expects about the same number this year. She said attendance always depends on the weather.

Event organizers said the parade will feature about 80 entrants, including marching bands, floats from the Parade Company, circus performers, dance troupes, local organizations and returning favorites like the Redford Township Unicycle Club and Cass Tech High School marching band. New entries this year will include the Royal Oak Robotics Team and the Motor City Heat marching band.

Jay Towers from 100.3 WNIC-FM once again will serve as the parade’s grand marshal.

“The parade is a wonderful way to officially welcome the holiday season and spotlight community spirit in Royal Oak,” said Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids. “I know the mayor and city commissioners look forward to it every year.”

Davids said to arrive early if you need to secure a close parking space. Parking is always free on Sundays, so there is no need to feed the meters.

She also said not to forget festive headwear.

“The hats worn by those in the crowd are almost as fun to watch as the parade itself,” Davids said.

New, unwrapped gifts for boys and girls will be collected this year along the parade route or at the parade main stage, which will be at Fourth Street and Washington Avenue.

All collected toys will be donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oakland & Macomb Counties’ Holiday Basket Program, which McIntyre said will help nearly 1,000 people during the holiday season. Toys also may be dropped off before the parade at the Boys & Girls Club, 1545 E. Lincoln Ave.

Following the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet children from 3 to 5 p.m. at Skyward Real Estate, 519 S. Washington Ave. Parents are invited to bring their cameras for photos.

McIntyre said the parade wouldn’t be possible without its 40 sponsors.

These other holiday-inspired Royal Oak events will also be happening in November:

Santa Scamper

The Oak Apple Santa Scamper will take place at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 22 before the beginning of the Holiday Magic Parade. The half-mile fun run traces the parade route and is open to walkers, joggers and runners. Online registration costs $10; the cost is $15 for paper registration. Packet pickup will take place at 12:30 p.m.  For more information, visit www.oakapplerun.org/santascamper.

Kids eat free

Downtown Royal Oak is returning its Kids Eat Free! campaign during the holiday season. Children 10 and younger may eat free with the purchase of an adult meal Nov. 22-Dec. 27 at participating restaurants. A list of eateries can be found by visiting dineroyaloak.org.

Wild Lights

The Detroit Zoo will host Wild Lights from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 20-22 and 27-29, and Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 18-23 and 26-31. The night display will feature more than 5 million twinkling LED lights illuminating buildings, trees and more than 100 animal sculptures throughout the front half of the zoo. Seasonal refreshments, photos with Santa, arts and crafts, ice carving and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit will be part of the event. New this year will be a 20-foot-tall, 150-foot-long snow slide that attendees may ride for an additional $3.

Admission costs $9 per person in advance and $11 at the gate for attendees 2 and older (children younger than 2 will be admitted for free); parking costs $6 per car. Tickets can be purchased online at www.detroitzoo.org/events/wild lights or at Detroit Zoo main admissions. They are also available at all Michigan Kroger stores.

Holiday arts and crafts

The 33rd annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Marketplace, presented by the Royal Oak High School PTSA, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, at Royal Oak High School, 1500 Lexington Blvd. The event will feature more than 100 artisans and craftspeople. Proceeds from the juried arts and crafts show will benefit Royal Oak High School. Homemade luncheon items and baked goods will be for sale at the event.

Admission costs $2 for adults; Royal Oak High School students and children younger than 13 will be admitted for free. For more information, visit www.rohscraft.com.

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