Holiday Joy arrives in Lorain with Lights and Fireworks
By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent
Downtown Lorain welcomed the joy of the winter holiday season with an impressive light display, Christmas music, and fireworks.
The 3rd annual “Light Up Lorain” keeps growing, attracting 10,000 visitors this year, Nov.26, 2011.
The city lit up or decorated over 100 trees throughout Broadway Avenue, Veteran’s Park, Lakeview Park, and Black River Landing, and City Hall was adorned with a spectacular display of colorful lights that danced to the background music of Christmas carols.
Its theme, “The Magic of Toyland on Broadway,” was clearly visible as the Nutcracker’s live toy soldiers, larger-than-life stilt-walkers, elves and, of course, the most cherished figures of the holidays, Mr. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, greeted the visitors. Children and parents were able to meet the jolly Claus pair and have pictures taken, make crafts, and write letters to veterans in Santa Land at Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, 637 Broadway.
“I’m glad there is a big turnout. It’s good for the city,” said Alysha Pozik, a lifetime resident of Lorain, “It was fun. It was real nice.” Pozik said she has come every year to watch the city’s light show, and this year took her two children, Cheyenne Justice, 6, and Kingsley Westmaas, 4 months, to see Santa Claus and have pictures taken.
Santa even brought his reindeers.
The extravaganza featured a live reindeer display, and a petting zoo, and guests enjoyed horse-drawn carriage rides, a Rocket car rides, and shuttle bus rides to see the surrounding light display.
Floyd Wells, owner and operator of the Wells-go-Far Carriage Service, led the carriage rides for hundreds of people during the night, by guiding the three Haflinger horses with voice commands. The three Haflingers, now all 17 and 18 years old, once worked the fields in Amish country. The Haflingers, which Wells said could be trained just like dogs in only a matter of days, would either speed up or slow down as he commanded “step up, step out, and ease up,” and a whistle would make them move faster. The carriage rides appeared to be a favorite of the night for adults and children of all ages.
The magical night began with a parade on Broadway that featured the event’s emcee WEWS News Channel’s 5 Paul Kiska and Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko atop the Clydesdale horse-drawn carriage, baton twirlers, the Lorain High School and the Open Door High School Marching Bands, Santa Claus aboard a Lorain Fire truck, many Christmas characters and many more.
Maddi Hevebrand, 11, and Hannah Andrews, 10, walked in the parade. Wearing a Santa hat and earrings that lit up bright red, Hevebrand said “It was fun,” and her first year participating.
Veteran’s Park was filled with Christmas carols. A concert following the parade featured the Lorain High School Marching Band performing a variety of Christmas music. Over a dozen children wearing reindeer antlers from the Little Lighthouse Learning Center sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The 2011 Lorain International Princess Court: Queen Kaitlyn Knick, 1st runner-up Sara Andrews, 2nd runner-up Chloe DeAngelis, and 3rd runner-up Hannah Congelio sang “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” and “We wish you a Merry Christmas.”
Among the singers also were Friends of Alpha Company, Sierra Thomas, a 2009 Lorain Admiral King graduate, singing “Where are you Christmas,” and recording artist DD Magdalena Alvarado, who sang “Ave Maria.”
DD Magdalena, born and raised in Lorain, returned to sing in her hometown but said she thought she would never sing again after suffering from a heart attack. But she recovered in a year, and has released her first album this year titled “Second Chance.” She said part of the proceeds go to local charities. “I go to other places but I always love to come back to Lorain,” DD Magdalena said “I love it here. I can’t leave. This is my home.”
Wearing a Santa hat and sitting on the border of the stage, Mayor Krasienko concluded the concert by reading “A Visit from St. Nicolas,” by Clement Clarke Moore, more commonly known as ’Twas a Night Before Christmas,” as children gathered around him.
Mayor Krasienko lights up downtown
The anticipated moment of the night came when Krasienko and the 2011 Lorain International Festival Queen Kaitlyn Knick symbolically flipped a larger-than normal switch that lit up all the trees downtown and initiated the fireworks show.
DD Magdalena Alvarado
Lorain has lit up trees for many years but in the past two years, the event has had an impressive growth. “We wanted to take this to another level,” Krasienko told the crowd, “We do this for you. We use no tax dollars but this was possible through the help of many donations.”
It took the Downtown Lorain Christmas Council nearly a year to plan the holiday event, cost roughly $35,000, and roughly 60,000 lights were used. Krasienko said last year, the energy efficient lights cost roughly $4 a day. The lights will be on display every night throughout the holiday season.
Rey Carrion, of the city’s development, said the warm weather may be the key that attracted a greater number of attendees this year, up from 5,000 visitors last year, and said the event is really about restoring the city’s pride, hope and worth. “We wanted to make this a legitimate show that would make it a good tourist attraction,” Carrion said.
He said events like this should restore the city's reputation.
“We have a lot of good things happening here and we’re not stopping,” Carrion said “Events like this is the way to change that depressed mentality. We have great people here. Businesses are expanding and new businesses are opening up. We will bring in new jobs. We need to rise,” he said.
Carrion was referring to the new Charleston Café on Broadway (across from the Lorain Palace) which held an open house but officially opens in the next few weeks, and the neighboring recently opened Faithfully Fit Group Fitness center also on Broadway. The Gardens of Charleston townhouses complex behind the Charleston Café at 610 Broadway also held an open house to showcase their 18 newly remodeled townhouses. And Carrion said Faroh’s chocolates at 657 Broadway has expanded. The fairly new Lorain Arts Council art gallery at 737 Broadway also featured face painting, arts and crafts and more musical entertainment. The Lorain Palace Theatre at 600 Broadway featured the movie “Arthur Christmas.” La Copa at 939 Broadway also offered specials like other surrounding businesses.
One former Lorainite and visitor who enjoyed the night, Stephanie Karasevich said: “I am so proud of Lorain right now. Light up Lorain looks very pretty, and I’m happy to say this is my hometown.”
To see La Prensa’s video coverage of this event, log onto http://www.youtube.com/user/LaPrensaWeekly
Find DD Magdalena's album on her website: http://ddmagdalena.vpweb.com/
Contact Wells-go-Far Carriage Service in Sullivan, Ohio at http://www.wellsgofarcarriage.com