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Children and families will soon have the opportunity to enjoy holiday cheer â€” in their own back yard.
The fifth annual Childrenâ€™s Hometown Holiday inches closer to its start this Saturday in downtown Wapakoneta.
Organizer Elaine Poppe came up with the idea five years ago for the annual event.
â€śThe festival is centered around recreating the old- fashioned spirit of Christmas,â€ť Poppe said.
Poppe spearheaded this event because she believes children should have a special place where they can go every year and create Christmas memories that will last a lifetime.
â€śIâ€™ve always been a Christmas person,â€ť Poppe said. â€śI have a great love of Christmas.â€ť
The Childrenâ€™s Hometown Holiday begins at 9:45 a.m. with a mini-parade. This parade is a recent addition to the event, as last year was the first year for it.
Poppe said the parade has been expanded this year, and many new characters and people will be making an appearance, along with the Ohio Northern University cheerleaders, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, who will be passing out potato chips, Frosty the Snowman, who will be serving snow cones, Humpty Dumpty, who will be passing out samples of kettle corn and M & M candies, who will be giving out an assortment of M & M treats.
Each character will be escorted by a golf cart, carriage or trolly and Santa Claus will conclude the parade by arriving on a fire truck, and the parade will end near his outpost by the Wapakoneta Fire Station, where there will be a live reindeer display.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there is an assortment of activities and photo opportunities for the children and their families at the local businesses and churches.
Poppe said that with the 4-hour time period, there will not be enough time for each of the children to do every activity that is available that day. She suggested the children should pick their favorites and save some for next year.
New to the event this year is the ice skating rink, autographs by local celebrities at Marleyâ€™s Downtown, and story telling at the museum.
Karen Dietz has been tabbed to tell the history of Christmas candies, including ribbon candy and taffy pulls with samples at the Auglaize County Museum in Wapakoneta.
A doll house and Polar Express train will be raffled off at 1:30 p.m., prior to the Christmas movie at the Wapa Theatre. Children may sign up for the raffle at Casa Chic, as the two items are displayed in the window of the business.
Wapakoneta High School Singsation can be found strolling the streets, singing Christmas carols as street musicians from Lima Symphony plan to sing Christmas tunes in front of the Wapa Theatre.
St. Paul United Church of Christ members have agreed to provide hot dogs and Pepsi products for this event, along with kettle corn and snow cone street vendors, who will be near the ice skating rink.
In addition, local businesses will be handing out different types of treats for the children, including cookies, candy and hot chocolate.
Many area businesses, organizations and individuals have helped to fund the cost of this event for the children, including donating items, give-aways and buses for transportation.
Buses are being made available to transport people from different businesses including Village Green Garden and Floral Center, First English Lutheran Church, Haehn Florist, CJâ€™s Pizza, R.J. Coffey Cup, The Herb Ladies to downtown and other portions of town where there are activities. Carriage, trolley and train rides will also be available.
The festival is free of charge.