By: Moira Bonadonna – Staff Writer
As the holiday season approaches, so do opportunities for fun, food and time spent with family and friends, and the city of Dayton does not intend on disappointing its inhabitants. Downtown Dayton Partnership (DDP), a nonprofit organization that works for the good of downtown Dayton, has planned the 42nd annual Downtown Dayton Holiday Festival to take place this holiday season.
Started in 1972 by Mrs. Virginia Kettering, the Downtown Dayton Holiday Festival was created so that children of families of all socioeconomic statuses could come together and have a chance to enjoy the holiday season free of charge, according to the Sponsor Relations & Events Marketing Manager of DDP Courtney Deutsch.
“It’s a tradition,” Deutsch said. “We have people who have been coming down for generations—they bring their children and grandchildren to the festival.”
The Grande Illumination, or “big night” as Deutsch called it, takes place annually at Courthouse Square the day after Thanksgiving.
“Several activities will take place from 4 – 9 p.m.,” Deutsch said. “There will be live entertainment on the main stage, carnival rides, a photo booth, horse drawn wagon rides circling downtown, games, arts and crafts, and the festival’s newest feature, a giant life sized human snow globe in which people can get their pictures taken. That’s what I’m most excited for.”
The annual tree lighting will take place at 7:45 p.m. with a children’s parade following immediately afterwards. Deutsch said that they are expecting around 30,000 people to attend the festival.
After the festival on Nov. 28, DDP still has an entire calendar of events throughout the month of December. Three Saturdays in December—Dec. 6, 13 and 20—are called “Family Weekends.” During these Saturdays, DDP offers free movies at Neon movie theatre, pizza with Santa at Uno’s, a mini shop at the Schuster Center for children to wrap up presents for their parents, and “anything holiday related going on downtown” Deutsch said, including performances of the “Nutcracker” at the Victoria Theatre.
As a nonprofit organization that focuses on economic development and bringing arts, amenities and culture to the downtown area, DDP putting on this holiday festival is only natural.
“We’re the center of the city, so I feel like we should provide some holiday entertainment for people,” she said.
Similar to the Downtown Dayton Holiday Festival, the University of Dayton’s very own holiday tradition—Christmas on Campus—celebrates much of the same spirit. Local school children are bused to campus and paired with a UD students to spend time with and enjoy the different activities set up by students and faculty.
The major difference between the Downtown Dayton Holiday Festival and Christmas on Campus, Deutsch claimed, is that the festival is nondenominational while Christmas on Campus celebrates Christmas specifically.
Regardless, everybody is welcome to participate in both traditions and Deutsch adds that volunteers are always appreciated.
The Downtown Dayton Holiday Festival will take place Friday, Nov. 28 from 4 – 9 p.m. For more information on the Downtown Dayton Holiday Festival, visit the website, daytonholidayfestival.org or call Downtown Dayton Partnership at 937-224-1518.