Revelers young and old will enjoy ice-carving demonstrations, horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling, a tree-lighting ceremony and an illuminated stroll though the heart of Olde Pickerington Village during Pickerington's annual holiday festivities.

Those are just a few of the many activities on the agenda at the Holiday Gathering scheduled from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 1. The free event sponsored by the Pickerington Parks and Recreation Department and the Pickerington Village Association will take place at various locations.

Pickerington Village Association President Jason Diehl said the Holiday Gathering definitely has an "old-school, hometown feel" to it where one can walk around with a cup of hot chocolate and see people they know.

"It's always been such an important event," Diehl said.

"When it comes to the holidays it goes back to tradition and downtown (Pickerington) is where the tradition started."

In addition to a horse-drawn carriage circuit, a free trolley will transport visitors to various spots throughout downtown from Froggy's Sweets, 31 Hill Road South, where there will be cookie decorating, to the Food Pantry Festival of Lights fundraiser at 70 W. Cross St.

Diehl said the event continues to expand its footprint to allow more people to experience all of the downtown Pickerington area.

"Businesses down here have been centered around Columbus Street for years, but now things are getting a little spread out," he said.

Which means commerce is really going well as people discover the diverse offerings of Olde Village, he added.

"The horse-drawn carriage is actually a wagon that holds eight people and goes in the same circle it's done for years," Diehl said.

New this year, children (and adults alike) will have the opportunity to pet reindeer at an area near the Pickerington Building Department, 51 E. Columbus St.

And, of course, Santa will make his special appearance at David Beckham Photography, 6 Lockville Road. For a donation of $5 to charity, Beckham will take a professional photo of St. Nick with little ones.

Other events include a live nativity scene at the Circle K Plaza off Hill Road, an open house with storytellers at the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Museum at 15 E. Columbus St. and an ice-carving demonstration on E. Columbus St.

The Holiday Gift Market located above Combustion Brewery, 80 W. Church St., will again be open and children's games, crafts and face-painting will take place in the back of Romeo's Pizza next to the brewery.

Also, new businesses that have recently opened at 140 W. Borland including Pebby Forevee and Pickerington Art Works as well as most downtown merchants will be open.

A gingerbread house contest and display is planned at Power and Glory Ministries, 122 W. Church St. and there will be a Holiday Lighting contest throughout Olde Pickerington Village.

At 7 p.m. the annual city tree-lighting ceremony at the intersection of Columbus and Center streets will serve as the city's official "kick-off" to the holiday season.

"Mayor Lee Gray will welcome the community and (local) officials and he typically leads a Christmas song and announces what's taking place throughout the evening and then he concludes with a countdown to the lighting of the city tree," said Rebecca Medinger, Pickerington Parks and Recreation director.

Parking for the Pickerington Holiday Gathering will be available at all designated public parking spaces, including Ridgeview Junior High School.

Complimentary hot chocolate and popcorn will be served at the Holiday Gathering.

For addition information, visit the Pickerington Village Association website,