Shelby, Utica invite families to celebrate Christmas in style

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 26, 2018

 Performers in Meadow Brook Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” serenade visitors in front of the newly lit tree in the Jacqueline K. Noonan Riverwalk Park in downtown Utica last December. The performers will be back for Utica’s Christmas tree lighting again this year at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

Performers in Meadow Brook Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” serenade visitors in front of the newly lit tree in the Jacqueline K. Noonan Riverwalk Park in downtown Utica last December. The performers will be back for Utica’s Christmas tree lighting again this year at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

File photo by Brandy Baker

 Jonathon Bultynck, 6; Ava Hadeed, 7; Langston Cicala, 6; and Kayleigh Osobka, 6, all of Shelby Township, anticipate Santa’s arrival so they can award him the key to the township during Christmas Aglow in 2017.

Jonathon Bultynck, 6; Ava Hadeed, 7; Langston Cicala, 6; and Kayleigh Osobka, 6, all of Shelby Township, anticipate Santa’s arrival so they can award him the key to the township during Christmas Aglow in 2017.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — The Christmas spirit is in the air, and Shelby Township and the city of Utica are inviting the community to come out and join in on the holiday festivities.


Shelby Township
Shelby Township will host its annual Christmas Aglow event at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 on the municipal grounds, 52700 Van Dyke Ave.

The event will feature the official lighting of the township Christmas tree ahead of the holiday.

Before the lighting of the tree, the Eisenhower High School show choir will perform carols at the band shell. After the carols, the winners from the township’s Christmas coloring contest will present the key to the township to Santa Claus and light the Christmas tree.

The Shelby Township Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Department will have Santa available to visit with children, will sing Christmas carols, and will light the big township tree.

The opportunity for children to visit with St. Nick will take place after the tree lighting until 8:30 p.m. in the historic Hope Chapel, which is also on the municipal grounds.

Children can enjoy crafts, cookies, hot chocolate, the township’s Polar Express train and a marshmallow roast. Horse-drawn wagon rides and food trucks like Crepe Day-Twah and Mac Shack will be on-site to sweeten the holiday spirit.

“It’s a great event for families to attend and get into the Christmas spirit,” said Cindy Martel, the business manager for the Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Department.

This year’s Christmas Aglow theme is “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and the Grinch will be a new special guest this year.

Christmas Aglow is a yearly tradition.

In addition to the Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Department portion of the event, the Community Relations Department said it will be offering digital greeting cards for visitors and a hashtag printer for pictures with Santa.

“New to the Aglow this year is a chance for visitors to film personalized video Christmas greetings from Whoville. Staff from the Community Relations Department will transform the lower level of Township Hall into Whoville, where guests will be able to record video Christmas greetings onto a keepsake thumb drive to share online with family and friends,” said Brad Bates, the Shelby Township community relations director.

“For everyone that comes to visit the Christmas Aglow, it is a memorable night and tradition, and we wanted to give our residents a chance to share the experience of the Aglow with friends and family that may be out of town or unable to come to the Aglow,” he said. “This extends to a chance for guests to take home a custom photo printout of their time with Santa in the historic Hope Chapel, or with the Grinch, who will be strolling around the campus at the Aglow.

“By taking their Aglow pictures through Instagram or Twitter and tagging the picture with #ShelbyTwpAglow, photos will be printed in the upper level of Township Hall, where visitors can make a donation to the township giving tree, the Antolin Coats for Kids drive, or view the entries for the 2018 Shelby Township Christmas coloring contest,” Bates said.

The Aglow is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

“This is going to be the most interactive Christmas Aglow I can remember, and I’m sure our residents will enjoy it,” Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said in a prepared statement. “Every year, I think it can’t get better, but our township employees keep proving me wrong.”

For those who are unable to attend the Aglow to meet Santa, he will also be making his annual stop at the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center, 4101 River Bends Drive, at noon Dec. 16 before heading back to the North Pole.

There will also be the opportunity for kids to drop off a letter to Santa at the Shelby Township Library, 51680 Van Dyke Ave., until 5 p.m. Dec. 15 in a custom mailbox near the library’s children’s section.

For more information on Christmas Aglow, call (586) 731-0300 or visit shelbytwp.org/aglow.


Utica
Utica also will be hosting a Christmas celebration to kick off the holiday cheer. The city will host its annual Christmas tree lighting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Utica Public Library and the Jacqueline K. Noonan Riverwalk Park, located at 7530 Auburn Road.

The event will feature Santa and Mrs. Claus coming to town to ring in the Christmas season.

“The tree lighting is a family event to help start our holidays by sharing friendships and family with our community. It has been a long-standing tradition in the city for over 25 years,” said Beth Ricketts, the city clerk of Utica.

Also, the Utica Fire Department will be holding the city’s “Stuff an Ambulance” with toys event at the Fire Department, 7609 Auburn Road. The Fire Department is inviting everyone to bring a toy to help make it a great Christmas for a child in need.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be located indoors and will visit with every child until all have been seen. There will be live reindeer, elves, horse-and-carriage rides, hot chocolate and doughnuts, and live performances from the cast and crew of “A Christmas Carol” from Meadow Brook Theatre. The Utica High School band, along with the St. Lawrence Christmas Choir, will be performing.

Thom Dionne, the mayor of Utica, said he is looking forward to seeing everyone there.

“Our goal is to offer our residents the best possible living experience they can have in Utica. I want our residents to be able to have a great time in their hometown without having to travel elsewhere. That is why we make our Christmas tree-lighting celebration over the top and one to remember.

“Last year, this free event was sponsored entirely by our Utica business partners. We are well on our way to having full sponsorship this year as well,” he said.

“Also, the mighty Utica High School Chieftain Marching Band will be present with a 100-member ensemble under the direction of Mr. Brett Bays. Santa will be spending time with each and every child in our Utica library Gibbing Room. A small toy will be provided to every child,” Dionne said.

Parking will be available at the library, City Hall, behind the Fire Department and at Jimmy John’s Field, 7171 Auburn Road. The event is free and open to everyone.

Marsha Doege, the Utica Public Library director, said that every year people look forward to the celebration.

“The Christmas tree lighting is a great family event, eagerly anticipated all the years the city’s held it, and the perfect way to kick-start the holiday season. Lights, carriage rides, reindeer and Santa — what more do you need?” Doege said.

For more information, call the city of Utica at (586) 739-1600 or visit www.cityofutica.org.