By Joan Tucker and Jenny Smith
The seventh annual Festival of Lights, organized by the Downtown Development Authorityand the Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the holiday season with bangs and sparkles as area families ignored a chill drizzle to attend this colorful, joyous event in Stockbridge, Saturday, Nov. 24.
Twinkling lights and festive holiday music combined with the scent of popcorn from Kate’s Kettle Corn to dazzle a downtown crowd of 600 to 800 attendees. More than 200 Children came away from their visits with Santa in high spirits, as his “nice” list was long this year. They scampered from one Elf Stop to another, frosting sugar cookies, making stockings, and decorating ornaments with the help of volunteers at participating businesses that also handed out much-appreciated hot chocolate and candy canes.
Awesome Dogs sold concessions on the square, and Crossroads Community Church passed out pizza. All while the Opps’Doyle Valley Percherons provided relaxing jaunts through the village in a stately horse-drawn carriage, compliments of Enbridge.
Inside the Township Hall, skillfully built and wonderfully imaginative gingerbread houses lined up for a competition, with the contest win going to the Stockbridge First Robotics Team. Outside brimmed with the Tree Gala, sponsored by Eaton Federal Credit Union.
Then darkness set in, and Emcee Gordie Kunzleman introduced Jean Bliss to ceremoniously light the township tree and kick off the procession.
The Electric Parade bedazzled spectators with holiday lights artistically painting two fire engines, rescue vehicles and even a couple of county snowplows. Multiple brightly lit floats, including one from Juel Childcare and Eaton Federal Bank, rolled past to music from the Stockbridge High School Jazz Band in a giant sleigh. Floats featured tiny, lighted houses, a vardo wagon, and even classic cars. Hot air balloon-fueled heaters on trucks flamed into the sky and warmed the crowd. Local juniors and seniors proudly carried banners declaring the winners of various categories:
- Best equipment: Livingston County Road Commission
- Most Comical: Wild Sanitation
- Most Original: Animal Blood Resources
- Most Detailed: Dansville Fire Department
- Most Creative: Juel Childcare
- Best Effort: Stockbridge Jazz Band
Grand Marshalls Jo Mayer and Paul Crandall, wrapped in lights, waved from their seat of honor in a SAESA fire truck.
Then came another highlight: Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in a horse-drawn white carriage—a spectacular sight. Santa wished all a Merry Christmas, and the joy of the season could be read on the faces of all in attendance. Children of all ages ended the evening with a lighter heart and refreshed community spirit.