It will be an explosive start to the holiday season in Gahanna with fireworks at the annual Holiday Lights Celebration.
The Gahanna Convention and Visitors Bureau, also known as Visit Gahanna, will welcome revelers to the Creekside District for the first holiday event of the season from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19.
"Our biggest addition to this year's event will come with the tree-lighting ceremony," said Laurie Jadwin, bureau director. "After Santa arrives and leads the crowd in the countdown to light the tree, the crowd will be treated to a brief pyrotechnics display to add to the excitement of the night."
Jadwin said she's grateful to the Mifflin Township trustees for partnering with Visit Gahanna to present the new feature.
In addition to the fireworks, Jadwin said, one of the celebration's new activities will be a holiday scavenger experience with Amaze Escape Games of Columbus.
"Lenny the Elf has lost a present and needs some help to find it," Jadwin said. "Families and individuals start with a clue to help Lenny, then must follow a series of other clues at locations throughout the Holiday Lights Celebration, playing games and having fun along the way."
Jadwin said the Holiday Lights Celebration continues to grow each year.
"We are thrilled that so many businesses and organizations have stepped up to become involved in this beloved event," she said. "This year, we have more than 100 activities that family members of all ages can enjoy."
Some of the fun will include horse-drawn carriage rides, ice sculpting demonstrations, photos with mascots, live musical entertainment and a holiday wagon that will transport guests to the Gahanna Historical Settlement, where they can experience old-fashioned holiday traditions and toys.
"Visit Gahanna and the wonderful volunteers on the Holiday Lights Planning Committee envisioned the Holiday Lights Celebration to be a focus on community -- to be one day of the year when Gahanna comes together in the spirit of the season to celebrate, engage and support one another," Jadwin said.
"We are delighted that as each year has passed, more organizations, groups and businesses have become involved -- and have looked for ways to give back to the community," she said.
Jadwin said celebrants should be sure to enjoy all the indoor and outdoor activities leading up to the tree lighting and downtown illumination.
"This is the kickoff to the holiday season in central Ohio and you won't want to miss the way we celebrate it in Gahanna," she said.
Holiday Lights also will feature open houses, children's activities, strolling carolers, food vendors and other holiday activities positioned throughout Olde Gahanna in the afternoon along Mill and Town streets, around Creekside Park and Plaza and in the Gahanna historical area.
The tree lighting and the lighting of Gahanna's Creekside district will commence upon Santa's arrival about 6:15 p.m., followed by a candlelit walk through Creekside Park.
The event will offer guests two ways to give to those who are less fortunate in the community this season.
Gahanna Residents In Need will accept donations of board games and puzzles to help with a holiday toy drive.
The net proceeds of all sales of Nothing Bundt Cakes' bundtlets will be donated to the Gahanna Lincoln High School Lions Locker program that supports students in need.
Gahanna Lincoln community art class teacher Sharon Iseringhausen said her students have been working with the Gahanna Convention and Visitors Bureau on the creation of several gingerbread houses to be displayed at the Holiday Lights celebration.
"We received the donation of two pieces of plywood from Home Depot," she said. "The community art class designed four gingerbread houses approximately 4 feet square, and our own Fab Lab cut them out and sanded them."
The students were in the process of painting the houses and adding details last week.
Holiday Lights attendees will have an opportunity to take family photos in front of the gingerbread houses and the community tree.
Additionally, the celebration will include staples of the annual event: a reindeer petting zoo, a live nativity, pony rides, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice-sculpture demonstrations and the Holly Jolly Holiday Train ride.
The evening will culminate when Santa comes to Gahanna and lights the community tree on Creekside Plaza.
Afterward, a meet-and-greet with Santa will take place on the patio of Barrel & Boar Creekside.
Indoor activities and open houses also will be featured, including seasonal cartoons and popcorn, at the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary; shopping discounts at Ohio Herb Education Center; historic home tours, old-fashioned toys, popcorn stringing, gingerbread and hot beverages at the Gahanna Historical Settlement; and special activities at other Gahanna restaurants and businesses.
Additionally, plenty of holiday music will be performed by the Gahanna Lincoln High School orchestra, Mifflin Presbyterian Church strolling carolers and the Central Ohio Brass Band's strolling musicians.