The Archbold Chamber of Commerce will present Christmas magic on Friday evening with the 20th Annual Parade of Lights, a kick-off to the holiday season.
“Usually, the streets are just packed. There’s always a big crowd,” said Lora Ripke, Chamber executive director. “It’s been a longtime tradition in Archbold.”
The activities get underway at 4 p.m. with a visit from Santa Claus at the Holly Jolly Christmas Shop, 109 N. Defiance St. He will pose with kids of all ages through 6 p.m. for free photos provided by Archbold Parks and Recreation and The Peapod Photography Studio.
Live music from Step Brothers, a Pettisville band, takes to the streets at the corner of Holland Street and North Defiance Street. The Chamber will provide free popcorn and hot chocolate.
The evening will be highlighted by the annual Lite the Nite 5K run, beginning at 5:30 p.m. An estimated 100 participants will follow a route that begins and ends in downtown Archbold and travels through Ruihley Park. Winners are awarded Chamber gift certificates.
The Parade of Lights starts at 6:30 p.m. on Stryker Street at Con Agra Foods. It continues onto Defiance Street, then past Ruihley Park on Walnut Street, and ends at Con Agra near LaChoy Drive.
Ripke said about 30 entries had been confirmed as of last week, “and the only requirement is that they have to be lit up from head to toe.” Entries include floats from local businesses and Archbold and Fayette fire department vehicles. The Archbold High School Marching Band and the Archbold Blue Streaks state champion soccer team will also make appearances.
An always fun portion of the parade is seeing the heavily-decorated antique tractors and heavy equipment pieces, and, of course, Santa Claus, Ripke said.
The festivities will last about an hour, and spectators will have access to parking along the route. However, streets inside the perimeter of the parade route will close at 5:30 p.m.
“Arrive early to get good parking. Downtown is a really good place to view it,” Ripke advised.
During the festivities, carolers from the Archbold High School choir and the choir alumni will roam the streets to share their Christmas cheer.
Some retailers will stay open during the parade, and afterward the village’s 30th Annual Festival of Lights will go live in Ruihley Park. The display will remain open through Jan. 1.
Ripke said, since its inception in 1998, the Parade of Lights has undergone several changes that include both route and sponsorship.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.