The 11th annual Gahanna Holiday Lights! Parade and Festival will be held Nov. 27 and 28.

The 11th annual Gahanna Holiday Lights! Parade and Festival will be held Nov. 27 and 28.

The event usually attracts 35,000 to 40,000 people, organizers say, all spending time and some money in the city.

"It originally started as a wonderful way to bring our community together and celebrate the spirit of our community," said Karen Eylon, director of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau.

It since has grown to be much more: "It no longer is a Gahanna event; it's a Central Ohio event," she said.

The CVB is funded by lodging taxes, and Eylon said its mission is to have a positive economic impact on the community by getting people to visit the city. When people stay overnight in Gahanna, they eat and shop locally, patronizing local businesses.

Leslie Blake, president of the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce, said events like the Holiday Lights! Parade and Festival have a huge impact on local businesses, especially businesses in the downtown area close to the festivities.

She said the event focuses on the downtown, providing attention for area businesses and providing traffic for them.

Eylon said she's already receiving calls from people in Cincinnati interested in attending this year's event. That is one of the reasons why the CVB is trying to extend the event to a few days, keeping people in town for more a daylong visit. The newest addition to the event will occur Friday, Nov. 27: a holiday mystery pizza party at the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary, 82 N. High St. The event is presented by Gahanna's Original Pizza Pan.

"We're transitioning it toward a weekend getaway," Eylon said.

Besides drawing attention to local businesses, the festival also provides some residual effect by enticing people to come back to the city, Eylon said, adding that a dry-cleaning business seen by 40,000 people watching the holiday parade might get future business from that exposure.

"Many of them see it as a marketing opportunity," she said of the festival.

This year's festival features activities starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. Events will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, including the parade.

A complete list of activities and information about parking is available online at www.GahannaHolidayLights.com or by calling (614) 418-9114.