If you’ve been hearing festive music filling the air in the lakes area recently, that’s because the holiday season is about to swing into full gear, and local communities are getting in on the action with their annual tree lighting ceremonies. Santa’s sleigh will be replaced by a fire truck in most instances and kids are sure to have a great time at the events coming up next month, which are detailed in the report that follows. Happy holidays, west Oakland County!
Santa Claus coming to
Highland on Dec. 5
Santa Claus will be making a special trip to Veteran’s Park in Highland Township on Monday, Dec. 5, and he will be arriving in style. Around 7 p.m. Santa and his missus will be greeted with a rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as they make their way to the township’s tree lighting ceremony in a car provided by LaFontaine Buick GMC Cadillac.
“There will be some elementary (school) students who will be performing and leading the crowd in Christmas caroling,” said Missy Dashevich, the Highland Downtown Development Authority (HDDA) director. “We traditionally sing ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town.’ Then Santa greets the children and lights the tree with his holiday magic.”
The HDDA has been hosting the annual tree lighting for the past several years.
“We’ve hosted (the tree lighting) for the past 4 or 5 years, but the Highland tree lighting has been a tradition for many years,” Dashevich said.
After the tree lighting, children will have the opportunity to get their picture taken with Santa at the Highland Station House across the street, provided parents bring their own cameras.
“It’s very personal, and we always have a good turnout,” Dashevich said. “But it’s not like the mall where you have to wait hours on end to finally tell Santa your Christmas wishes.”
The Huron Valley Council for the Arts will be hosting a gallery for adults with items for sale. There will also be a special exhibit, the Festival of Trees Holiday Artist Market, with a variety of artists showcasing their works inside the Highland Station House.
Cider and cookies will also be provided.
“I just think it’s a wonderful time for families to get together and to experience what the holidays are all about,” Dashevich said. “It’s local. You’re with friends and family in your hometown. It’s a great time and the DDA loves hosting it.”
Highland Township Supervisor Triscia Pilchowski agreed.
“It’s an annual event that I always enjoy attending,” she said. “It’s just a fun event. It makes you realize the holidays are upon us.”
Veteran’s Park is located next to the Highland Fire Department on Livingston Road. While there will be no parking by the Highland Station House, there will be parking at the nearby Highland Elementary School.
Up to 2,000 expected at
White Lake ceremony
For the third consecutive year, White Lake Township will be having its annual tree lighting ceremony at the Village Lakes Shopping Center located on M-59 near Elizabeth Lake Road. And this year, the township is expecting an even bigger crowd on Wednesday, Dec. 7 than the 800-plus people who attended last year, according to Steve Martinko, who serves on the township’s Planning Commission and Tree Lighting Committee.
“We are expecting between 1,000 and 2,000 people this year,” Martinko said. “Without the cooperation of Village Lakes and the corporate tenants, this event would be impossible to facilitate. Every year we’ve had our attendance double. So we keep adding on activities and sponsorships so that people can enjoy a bright and fun mini-vacation to start the Christmas season.”
Among those sponsoring the event are The Root Restaurant and Bar, St. Joseph Mercy Medical, LaFontaine Buick GMC Cadillac, Contender’s Tree and Lawn, the Spinal Column Newsweekly, and JCPenney.
Jimmy John’s will be providing sandwiches, while Biggby Coffee will be providing hot chocolate.
The event will include ice sculptures, Christmas caroling, live reindeer, roasted s’mores, a raffle and Christmas trivia prizes, and a variety of kids’ crafts.
“The Friends of the Library is sponsoring the crafts again, which will be outdoors,” said White Lake Library Director Larry Ostrowski. “So, I’m picking some craft things that kids can do with mittens on.”
Because all the activities will be taking place outdoors, all the tents will be heated.
“We’re really hoping the weather cooperates this year,” Ostrowski said. “A couple years ago it rained, and last year it was really cold. We’re hoping the third time is the charm.”
While there won’t be a mobile stage on site this year, performances by the Art of Dance, Walled Lake Northern’s jazz club, and Rochester College’s Autumn will take place.
Prizes will also be awarded to those winners of the gingerbread house contest and the coloring contest, all of which have to be dropped off at the library for judging by Dec. 5.
The event will start at 6 p.m. and will culminate with the arrival of Santa Claus and his wife on a fire truck. Santa will have the honor of lighting the township’s Christmas tree.
“It’s always a great event for the community to get together and join in the Christmas tree lighting,” said White Lake Township Supervisor Greg Baroni.
“When you see parents and grandparents taking photos of all their excited kids — that excitement in everyone’s faces is really refreshing these days,” Martinko said.
“Mr. Milford” event still
in full swing downtown
The Milford Business Association will host its Christmas Open House in downtown Milford on Thursday, Dec. 1 beginning at 5:45 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m.
Festivities will include choir groups from Huron Valley Lakeland and Milford high schools and musicians walking the streets throughout the evening singing holiday songs.
The big arrival of Santa Claus will take place at 6 p.m. as he rides in on a fire truck.
Santa will then be stationed at the Village Center Mall at 400 N. Main Street from 6 to 9 p.m. for photos.
Those who cannot see Santa during the open house are invited to come back on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. through Dec. 22, and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Dec. 17.
The open house will also provide nostalgic carriage rides during the event, with proceeds benefiting Community Sharing, which provides food and other services to needy the area’s families year-round.
Patrons are also invited to help Community Sharing by bringing a canned/dry food in exchange for a glow stick that can be waved around outside.
According to event coordinator Ron Barnette, the event was started 20 to 25 years ago by the late Tom Motley — the long-time owner/operator of the Arms Brothers Men’s Clothing store on Main Street — more affectionately known as “Mr. Milford.”
Barnette said he was the store’s manager for 35 years.
“(Motley’s) vision was that it’s a very caring and giving time and the merchants here were looking for something to do,” Barnette said. “You now have people whose parents brought them here as kids who are now taking their own children here. I think it’s a really special thing for kids.”
Barnette added that the open house was Motley’s favorite night of the year and that Motley’s wife would come in sometimes to help serve punch.
“I loved him like a father,” Barnette said.
General village rules will apply during the event.
Ring-a-ling on Dec. 5
at Walled Lake event
The Christmas countdown is about to begin in Walled Lake.
Over the last 20 years, the city has maintained its tree lighting tradition every December, with this year’s event taking place on Monday, Dec. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. in front of the City Hall at 1499 E. West Maple.
“The tree lighting is a kickoff for the holidays in celebration of all religious beliefs,” said Janell Joyce, the event’s coordinator.
The evening will start out with Mayor William Roberts giving a customary welcome, followed by the actual tree lighting. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will sweep in on a fire truck and conduct visits with the children in the adjacent fire station bay.
“It’s always so much fun and the entertainment gets better every year,” Joyce said. “Last year, we had 37 more kids that visited with Santa compared to the year before.”
Light complementary refreshments will be served, including hot chocolate and cookies. Entertainment will be provided by Dance Dynamics and the Twirl-m’s, while a Junior Girl Scouts group will perform holiday carols.
Participants are encouraged to bring donations for Hospitality House such as toys, mittens, scarves, games, puzzles and books. Monetary gifts and non-perishable foods are also gladly accepted.
Waterford decking the halls
Dec. 6 with Santa, Goodfellows
In Waterford Township, the 25th annual tree lighting ceremony will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the township offices located at 5200 Civic Center Drive. The event will begin with the Board of Trustees and Waterford Goodfellows welcoming township residents, followed by music played by the Waterford Kettering High School Jazz Band and the Pontiac/Waterford Big Chief Chorus singing carols.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive on a fire truck shortly after and will receive the keys to the township from Supervisor Carl Solden.
“It’s always great to visit with Santa during this free event,” said Recreation Supervisor Lori Soma. “This is another event to bring the community together and to get into the holiday spirit.”
The tree lighting event will begin around 6:30 p.m. Food and beverages, including hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, and hot chocolate, will be available for purchase. Cookie decorating, crafts and visits with Santa will be conducted under a tent.
Each family is encouraged to bring a canned good donation for the Waterford Goodfellows.
Vendors, children’s crafts
await Wixom event revelers
For over 20 years the city of Wixom has been holding a tree lighting ceremony for the community. This year the event is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the city offices located at 49045 Pontiac Trail.
“We started the tree lighting event to recognize the holiday season in the community,” said Parks and Recreation Director Deanna Magee. “It’s another way to get the community together and to welcome in the holidays.”
To kick off the festivities, the Walled Lake Western High School band will perform, followed by the Wixom First Baptist Church, which will get the crowd involved in caroling.
Mayor Kevin Hinkley will be on hand to make some remarks before Santa Claus and his reindeer ride in. Then the countdown will begin for the tree lighting.
There will be a free stocking decoration opportunity for kids.
This year, holiday vendors will be lining the municipal complex selling holiday items such as wreaths and candles.
Light refreshments will be served free of charge for kids, including juice boxes and cookies, while coffee and hot chocolate will be available for purchase.
And while the community rings in the holidays, community organizations are also taking the opportunity to remember those who can’t be home with loved ones this year.
The city of Wixom and the Walled Lake Eagles No. 3492 are teaming up for Operation Soldier, which will be collecting items through Thursday, Dec. 1. to send to soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Items on soldier wish lists include toiletries; non-perishable foods; Chapstick; travel games; CDs and DVDs; iTunes and iPhone gift cards; art supplies; calendars; warm blankets; puzzle and word search books; notebooks; flavored water drink packets; and homemade cookies.
Unwrapped items can be dropped off at the following locations:
• The Wixom Parks and Recreation counter in City Hall, 49045 Pontiac Trail, Mondays through Thursdays from 7:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
• The Wixom Community Center Lounge, 49015 Pontiac Trail, Mondays through Thursdays, 7:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
• The Walled Lake Eagles No. 3492, 1721 Glengary Road in Walled Lake, Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 10 p.m.
Contact the Parks and Recreation Department with any questions at 248-624-2850.
Staff writers Angela Niemi, Michael Shelton, and Leslie Shepard contributed to this report.