The Gahanna OH Convention & Visitors Bureau recently unveiled the all-new Holiday Lights Celebration concept that will kick off the holidays on Sunday, Nov. 22 from 3- 7:30 p.m. This Q&A with Gahanna CVB Executive Director Laurie Jadwin shares details about the new festival-like concept and what community members and visitors can look forward to in late November.
What is changing this year for the Holiday Lights Celebration?
This year, instead of a 30-minute parade, we are hosting 4-1/2 hours of activities and entertainment that will incorporate all of the elements of our Holiday Lights Parade tradition – and more. Simply put: it will be the same, just in a new and better format.
Why won’t there be a Parade?
The annual Holiday Lights tradition has been produced by the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau, not the City of Gahanna. In staying true to our mission to attract visitors to Gahanna and engage our community members, we developed this idea to allow people from near and far to get into the holiday spirit for an entire afternoon and evening.
We tested this concept at last year’s event and featured several attractions in advance of the Parade – live reindeer, horse and carriage rides, a game truck, holiday themed snow plows, and much more – and received GREAT feedback from businesses, community members and out-of-town visitors alike.
We are expanding upon this and are creating interactive events that people from all generations will enjoy, including:
- Traditional parade floats stationed throughout the downtown Gahanna area, along Mill St. and Granville St. Instead of watching on the sidelines as they go by, kids will be able to see them up close and personal and maybe even climb on one and explore!
- Families can participate in activities that include make-and-take crafts, holiday cookie decorating, painting a snow plow, Touch-A-Truck, and more;
- Local businesses and organizations (such as Art Garden Studio, Mifflin Presbyterian Church, and the Gahanna Historical Society) will host open houses that will offer complimentary beverages, sweets and fun activities;
- Gahanna-based restaurants (such as Mi Tradicion) and other local favorite eateries will have food stations;
- Live holiday entertainment will be offered by Gahanna school and church groups, as well as by local dance and music studios. Rather than brief snippets of a song, attendees can now enjoy full performances by such groups as the Gahanna Lincoln High School Orchestra and Marching Band, the Stonybrook United Methodist Church brass quintet and cantata choir, students from the Dollenmayer Dance Studio, Michelle Tuesday Music School, the Gahanna Jr. Drill Team, and more.
- Community organizations will have booths offering engaging activities as well as information on what they do for members of our community, and Gahanna-based craft vendors will be there to offer unique holiday gifts!
- And of course, Santa will be led through the streets of Gahanna by the snow-blowing Airport Authority Stryker fire truck with more than 100,000 holiday lights and a hot air balloon, lighting up floats along the way, before arriving at Creekside Plaza where he will light the community tree!
Above all, the intent is to make Holiday Lights a celebration that truly involves and engages our entire Gahanna community and draws visitors!
Who is in charge of Holiday Lights?
The Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau is in charge of Holiday Lights. We are a non-profit 501C-6 organization with a small but mighty staff and a dedicated volunteer committee.
Will Holiday Lights remain a free event?
Holiday Lights is a free event, just as it has been in all the previous years. There has never been any discussion of making this event a paid event.
Was this decision made to save money?
This is not about money. We did not make decisions around this event lightly, nor did we make them overnight. These changes are something that our volunteer committee has been discussing for some time. We decided to implement these changes this year because of the great feedback we received last year from businesses, community members and visitors.
A few things to note:
- We heard from our guests that they were coming downtown and waiting for hours (in very cold weather!) to watch a parade that would pass them by in minutes.
- We wanted to heighten the sense of community around the event – encouraging interaction with each other and with our local businesses, and creating an event that invites attendees to stroll the streets of Gahanna and soak in the holiday spirit.
Gahanna is a dynamic and vibrant city, and we are excited about the possibilities for community involvement and future growth that this new concept presents. We are looking forward to debuting the new Holiday Lights Celebration on Nov. 22 from 3 — 7:30 p.m. and to welcoming 10,000+ residents and visitors to our beautiful downtown area to help us kick off the holiday season!