More than 75 vehicles including this tow truck — each lit up and decorated for Christmas — make their way through the streets of Roseville Dec. 19 to help lift spirits and celebrate the holiday season.

More than 75 vehicles including this tow truck — each lit up and decorated for Christmas — make their way through the streets of Roseville Dec. 19 to help lift spirits and celebrate the holiday season.

Photos by Patricia O’Blenes


Roseville spreads holiday cheer with ‘Lights on Wheels’

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 22, 2020

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 Santa Claus joined the Roseville Holiday Lights on Wheels parade by waving to people from atop the city’s armored SWAT vehicle.

Santa Claus joined the Roseville Holiday Lights on Wheels parade by waving to people from atop the city’s armored SWAT vehicle.

 Roseville resident Janie Ceselli decorated her car with her best festive decorations and was among the participants in the city’s first Holiday Lights on Wheels parade.

Roseville resident Janie Ceselli decorated her car with her best festive decorations and was among the participants in the city’s first Holiday Lights on Wheels parade.

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ROSEVILLE — Christmas lights have always been used to brighten up the night and bring hope in a season that is usually dark and dreary. A turbulent 2020 has made that goal all the more relevant.

That was why the Roseville Police Department and Roseville Neighborhood Watch teamed up for the city’s first Holiday Lights on Wheels Parade. Residents decorated their vehicles with lights and decorations Dec. 19 and then paraded through the city showing off their bright colors and holiday cheer.

“We’ve got lights, Santa Claus blow-ups, signs of patriotism; I love it,” remarked event co-organizer Carolyn Czech. “I love all the lights the city was able to put on the SWAT vehicle. That was really impressive. With all of the little modern things like inverters and LED lights, there’s so much that’s possible now. People are really using their imaginations.”

Inspiration for the event was taken from a similar parade hosted in nearby St. Clair Shores. Roseville Neighborhood Watch member Matt Belz was impressed at how it allowed people to enjoy something as a community while still being able to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It began with Matt Belz, who is a member of our neighborhood watch. He participated in the St. Clair Shores parade and brought it to my attention, saying that he wanted to bring it to Roseville,” explained Roseville Police Community Outreach Officer Heather Owczarek. “We were 100% on board, so we came up with a route with the chief of police, and basically it took off from there.”

Belz said he believed that with the difficulties of COVID-19 and the other challenges presented in the last year, a solid dose of festive cheer was necessary.

“I sincerely hope that in these times where you hear a lot of negativity and when you hear a lot of things that don’t make you smile, this will,” he said. “I hope seeing all of these cars driving through your neighborhood all lit up, honking and yelling ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays,’ will turn a lot of people’s temperaments.”

That sort of positivity is more difficult to come by when having to social distance and wear protective equipment, which is why he thought the Holiday Lights on Wheels Parade was a perfect solution for 2020.

“I agree that COVID has made people be a lot more creative, and that is why we are involved in this way. I don’t think a parade of this kind would be possible during normal times,” he said. 

Organizations, businesses and ordinary residents took up the call put out by the police and neighborhood watch. One was Rob Fuller, who drove one of the large tow trucks on behalf of Van’s Towing after decking out the large truck with lights.

“We do a lot of work with the Roseville Police Department, and we decided to get some lights together and cheer up the community,” said Fuller. “We just wanted to change the atmosphere a little bit, especially with all of the COVID stuff going on.”

Roseville resident Marissa Teller said she heard about the parade and was immediately eager to join in.

“We follow the Roseville Facebook page, and we love parades. It made me happy,” Teller said. “I couldn’t stop giggling and getting excited when I heard about it. I went in my basement and started pulling out anything extra I had and tying it onto the car.”

The route wound in and out of Roseville’s neighborhoods with a special focus on senior citizen facilities. The route allowed most residents to enjoy the parade from their homes without having to congregate in a particular location.

“We’re going around to all of the senior living facilities in Roseville, as well as most of the neighborhoods in Roseville,” said Owczarek. “We’re starting here at the high school because it has one of the largest parking lots in the city.”

Czech said they wanted to focus on seniors because they have been hit hardest by both COVID-19 and the safety precautions that became necessary to stop its spread.

“I think it will bring a lot of people together and put smiles on faces. I think that’s what we really need right now. With our senior citizens that are confined, I think they need this too,” she said. “Seniors can’t get out too well, and a lot of them have been living in Roseville since they were kids. Our seniors put a lot of us through school, and they love this community, so we should make an effort to make sure they remain part of this community.”

“We love getting out in the community any way that we can, and with 2020, that has been difficult, so this was the perfect way to do something that’s safe and where we still get to go out and spread some holiday cheer,” added Owczarek.

The organizers are hopeful that the parade gave some much-needed cheer to people and would like to see if they could replicate its success next year.

“I want to thank the community for their support and involvement,” said Belz. “If this becomes as big as I think it will, it will all be because of the community. If we can make this an annual event, that would be great. It’s a simple event where you just have people decorate their vehicles and drive around the city. It’s not much more than that, but the happiness and feedback we’re getting is incredible.”

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