Organizer prepares for December event

Like a child’s Christmas list as the holiday draws nearer, the list of activities and events at the Children’s Hometown Holiday event continues to grow and grow.

The sixth annual Children’s Hometown Holiday will be held Saturday, Dec. 1, with some activities available on the eve of the event.

“Preliminary plans are well underway for the sixth annual Children’s Hometown Holiday,” event organizer Elaine Poppe said after receiving a $750 donation this week from Larry Tester, representing the Wapakoneta Area Community Foundation. “In addition to the skating rink and everything that took place last year, there are several new events in the works for this year.”

A Race Car Breakfast for boys ages 3 to 9 is to be held this year in the garage at Swaney’s. The first 60 boys to preregister can take advantage of eating a breakfast of donut holes and juice with a race car driver and his crew, who are affiliated with the University of Northwest Ohio (UNOH).

“The driver dressed in uniform will speak for about 10 minutes on the importance of being part of a team,” Poppe said, noting he will pose with children and the car visiting the dealer. “He will also have autographed pictures to give the children.”

UNOH is the major sponsor and will furnish free baseball caps with UNOH Racers emblazoned on the front. The children also will receive free PEZ dispensers and a Hot Wheels car.

Children can participate in a free NASCAR bicycle giveaway, a Racers skateboard giveaway, a NASCAR nightstand giveaway and a racing wheel toy box giveaway.

Dad’s Toy Shop is setting up a model race car track at Swaneys, too.

The event is being organized by Poppe and Mayor Rodney Metz. The giveaways are sponsored by Poppe Law Office.

“The Allen County Sheriff’s Office Posse will also be joining us this year in the parade and will be posing with their horses and willing children following the parade,” Poppe said. “There will be between four to eight mounted deputies in the parade.

“There also will be a tent on Perry Street near the skating rink that will house four camels, a donkey, a llama, a pen of goats and a pen of sheep,” she said. “It will provide a windbreak as well as a myriad of photo ops for families. It will be titled, ‘On the Way to Bethlehem.’”

Animals also can be found in the Alan Davis Insurance parking lot where eight miniature horse for children to pet and pose with will be located. The horse are to be part of the parade and will “be decorated” for Christmas. They are owned by Tava Ridenour of Waynesfield.

The Wapakoneta Redskins cheerleading squad replaces the Ohio Northern Polar Bears cheerleaders. The Redskins cheerleading will be at events throughout the city and will conduct the raffle at the theater of a doll house and The Polar Express.

Other new twists include The Bridal Emporium giving away an American Girl Doll dress at the Crystal Princess, Casa Chic giving away a child’s rocker during a tea party on Dec. 1 and Dawn Stinebaugh, a representative for Origami Owl Custom Jewelry giving away a young girl’s locket at the tea party.

The centerpiece of the children’s activities are scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 when the skating rink opens to kick-off the activities. The Armstrong Air & Space Museum is planning a “space Christmas-themed” movie for 8 p.m. after the rink closes on that day.

The skating rink will close at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.

After the Tea Party and the Race Car Party, Santa Claus is set to arrive during the parade. Santa will visit his house, but he must leave by 2 p.m.

During this time, a free movie is to be shown at the Wapa Theater. A Scavenger Hunt, set up by Kevin Lynch, should appeal to those in the 7 to 14 age group.

“We have several beauty pageant winners who will be in the parade and will sign autographs at Marleys as well as being willing to pose with the children and families,” Poppe said, noting Miss Ohio, Miss West Central Ohio, Miss Summer Moon Fest, Auglaize County Junior Fair queen, Little Miss Ohio and Miss Northwest Ohio will appear if their schedules permit. “We also have added new characters to join those we already have including ‘Hello Kitty’ and ‘SpongeBob Squarepants.’ WE also purchased new costumes for ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks.’”

Other events include local bands taking the place of the Lima Symphony, Alex Lindstrom of Dannon Yogurt donating 500 cups of yogurt to give away with a free hot dog at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ and First United Methodist Church members putting on a puppet show.

“The clowns who did the window pageant last year will be walking around town this year and giving out snacks,” the chair said. “Micah Nicol will be riding his unicycle in the parade and also will be doing his magic show.”

The site of the magic show has yet to be determined.

Village Green is giving away a child’s front-end loader ride on tractor.

The Wapakoneta Family YMCA is furnishing a bus to provide transportation between downtown Wapakoneta and the Grandview Plaza, Haehn’s Florist, The Herb Ladies, Village Green and fast food participants on Bellefontaine Avenue.

“Most of the merchants and businesses who were involved last year have committed to being involved again in the same or similar capacity this year,” Poppe said. “We have more businesses who are joining in the festivities as well as we have been hearing some very creative and inventive ideas from them that will delight the children and their families.

“Many local churches are honoring children during their Dec. 2 services making this a truly memorable family weekend.”