Wapakoneta gears up for Children’s Hometown Holiday festivities

WAPAKONETA — The 16th annual Children’s Hometown Holiday, featuring countless events for children free of charge, will be held in Wapakoneta this weekend.

Event organizers have purchased a 14-foot Christmas tree that will be the centerpiece of a lighting ceremony that will kick off the weekend at 6 p.m. Friday at the corner of Main and Perry streets.

Twelve-foot-tall nutcrackers will be stationed near the site of the ceremony. One is located at the entrance to Perry Street parking lot and another has been placed directly across from where the tree will be located. The other nutcracker is located at the fire station, where the Santa House sits.

Mary Dildine’s Middle school choir and Marissa Lewis’ high school choir will lead the children and community in carols for this first-ever tree-lighting event.

Many businesses have placed tinsel in their windows designating Wapakoneta as the little Tinseltown and there are new signs re-naming Auglaize Street as “Candy Cane Lane” for the weekend events.

There are also several new characters — Green Power Ranger, Wonder Woman, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Tin Man, Hostess Cupcakes, Super Mario, and the Shark — added this year who have surprises to hand out and who would love to have their pictures taken with visitors young and old, organizers said.

On Friday the skating rink will be open from 2:45-7:45 p.m. and the live reindeer will be next to the rink. The annual snowball drop will begin at 5 p.m.

The parade leaves back of town at 9:45 a.m. Saturday and marches up “Candy Cane Lane” to Blackhoof Street, then to Main Street and on to Santa’s House. Following the parade for the first time Lee’s Chicken will have a food truck downtown and a free hot dog lunch for children will be held at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.

The evening will culminate with fireworks at 6 p.m., followed by a free drive-through nativity at the fairgrounds.

Event organizers said children should take notice that committee members will be watching and those caught being exceptionally good or helpful on Saturday will be recognized with a badge. Their name will also be in the drawing for a chance to ride in the front seat of the police car to lead next year’s parade.