SOUTH HAVEN — Downtown South Haven will be hopping next Friday for the annual Holiday in the Park – South Haven’s official start of the holiday season.
Last year the inaugural event attracted an estimated 500 people to the downtown to enjoy the Santa Paws parade, official lighting of the holiday tree, photos with Santa, ice skating, roasted s’mores and hot chocolate.
“We are expecting more this year,” said Scott Reinert, executive director of the South Haven Visitors Bureau, which is organizing the event. “Holiday in the Park is intended as a fun community event with a small-town feel – a nice way for families to kick off the holiday season.”
The celebration begins at 4:30 p.m. with the Santa Paws Pet Parade. The popular event features dogs of every shape and size, all dressed in holiday attire. Pooches and their owners step off at Riverfront Park and head up Water Street to Phoenix Street until they reach Dyckman Park.
Along the parade route spectators will see hundreds of luminaries. The Caring Circle Hospice luminaries not only will add a soft glow to the Holiday in the Park celebration, but they’ll also honor the memory of loved ones from the South Haven area who have passed away.
Once the parade ends at the park, people can enjoy having pictures taken with Santa, free ice skating (for first 250 people) at the South Haven Ice Rink, along with Christmas karaoke and snacks before the official lighting of the city’s Christmas tree at 5:30 p.m.
The tall blue spruce was planted on the front lawn of South Haven City Hall last year. Earlier this month, volunteers were elevated in tree trimmer trucks to wrap 75 strands of lights on the tree and then decorated it with 200 silver-colored ornaments.
Volunteers also spent time putting up holiday lights, garland and other yuletide decorations throughout the downtown and in Dyckman Park.
“We had about 50 volunteers from the Visitors Bureau, SHOUT for South Haven, Maritime Museum, Chamber of Commerce and other community groups,” Reinert said.
“The South Haven High School wrestling team also decorated the light poles in town.”
Holiday in the Park schedule
4:30 p.m. — Santa Paws Pet Parade, starts at Riverfront Park and ends at South Haven City Hall, 539 Phoenix St.
4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. — Christmas Karaoke, Dyckman Park, Phoenix Street.
4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. — Ice skating at the South Haven Ice Rink, Huron Street Pavilion. Free admission for first 250 skaters (bring your own ice skates or rent them)
4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. — Marshmallow and s’mores roasting at bonfires in Dyckman Park. Baked cookies and hot cocoa combo available for $2.
4:45-6:15 p.m. and 6:30-7:30 p.m. — Visits and complimentary photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus and their elves, Dyckman Park.
5:30 p.m. — Official lighting of the holiday tree, city hall, 539 Phoenix St.
6-7:30 p.m. — Ornament craft making, South Haven Center for the Arts, 600 Phoenix St.
10 a.m. — Viewing of The Polar Express, Michigan Theater, corner of Center and Dyckman streets. Tickets are free.
5-6 p.m. — Christmas Carol Sing, First United Methodist Church, corner of Center and Huron streets.