Even the most dedicated Scrooge will be hard pressed not to enjoy the many festivities of the "Olde Village Holiday" event planned from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in Pickerington.
The holiday festival in the heart of Olde Pickerington Village, sponsored by the Olde Pickerington Village Business Association, is made possible through a combined effort of area organizations, businesses and churches.
Activities include real carriage rides, free children's crafts, strolling carolers, storytelling, a live nativity scene, the "Plaza of Lights" and Pickerington's traditional "Village Tree Lighting" ceremony.
Santa will be on hand as well, taking time out of a busy schedule to have his picture taken with children.
Downtown will be awash with light, courtesy of BJ Bouquets and the Pickerington Area Kiwanis and its Key Club, who are installing luminaria.
Festival organizer Deblin Jennings said the event is an affordable way in which to kick off the holiday season.
"This is one event where you can basically bring your family down here and enjoy the atmosphere and have it not cost you anything," Jennings said.
"The carriage rides don't cost anything," she said.
"You can go for a romantic stroll through Olde Village or take your kids on their first carriage rides."
Jennings said Santa will make his appearance at David Beckham Photography, 6 Lockville Rd.
"You have the option of purchasing a 5-inch-by7-inch photograph (with Santa) for $5," she said.
"(The proceeds) will benefit the Faith Mission, but he doesn't care if you take your own camera into the studio. That's an amazing thing he's able to do for the parents," she said.
Jennings said children can make tree ornaments at the Hair Boutique, 37 E. Columbus St., and take their creations home with them at no cost.
She said her business, Deblin Designs, will be distributing free bell bracelets, as long as supplies last, so when (people) walk throughout the Olde Village, they will jingle all night.
"There will be a lot of jingling going on," Jennings said.
Unique to the event this year is a live nativity scene, complete with trained sheep and a donkey, presented by C3 Church. The event will take place at the vacant gas station on the corner of Hill Road and Columbus Street.
"We're really excited about having an interactive nativity scene with live animals. Children are going to dress as angels and we'll have strolling carolers as part of the event," said Kim Huffman of C3 Church, who added a toy drive will also be held at the same site.
"People can just drop off toys there and we'll distribute them," Huffman said. "C3 Church has families they're helping but we'll also will donate them to the Violet Township Fire Department for their toy drive."
The PMCA Food Pantry of Pickerington will be selling hot chocolate at the Village Tree Lighting ceremony and also kicking off its annual "Plaza of Lights" fundraiser, in which lights are placed on the evergreens in the plaza in front of the Carnegie Building on West Columbus Street.
"Every dollar that is donated goes directly to the food pantry," said Gary Weltlich, a Violet Township Trustee and a pantry boardmember.
"Last year we raised approximately $20,000," he said.
The Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society will spin holiday yarns at its museum in the Carnegie Building on West Columbus Street.
"Children sit around the fireplace and listen to stories (while) the parents look around the museum, close at hand, so it's all a lot of fun," said Maggie Arendt, publicity director for the Historical Society.
She described Olde Village Holiday as a "really magical evening with lots of lights."
The tree-lighting will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the center of Olde Pickerington Village by the gazebo.
"It's a fun little event. We have the tree decorated and we light it up," said Steve Paullin of the Pickerington Parks and Recreation Department.
He said Olde Village Holiday kicks off a city-sponsored outdoor lighting contest as well in which businesses and residences in Olde Pickerington Village compete for the best holiday light display.
Jennings said the restaurants and shops will also be open during the event.
She said the primary focus of Olde Village Holiday is to both bring people together and help those in need. "Look at all the events that are helping people," Jennings said.
"So many people do so much to make this event so wonderful for the community."