Christmas City lights dedication Friday evening
With the flip of a switch Friday evening during the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s lighting dedication ceremony in Central Park, Fairfield will once again be transformed into The Christmas City.
The annual Holiday Lighting Celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m., with past and present Fairfield High School choir members, under the direction of FHS vocal music teacher Zach Reiter, singing holiday classics near the Ron Prill Bandstand.
Following the choir’s performance, the 2013 lighting dedication honoree, a well-kept secret until the ceremony, will be announced.
The dedication recognizes an individual or organization exemplifying the “holiday spirit,” said Nancy Morrissey, executive director of the chamber of commerce.
The honoree will switch on the lights for this year’s season at 6 p.m.
Fairfield’s 2012 lighting display was dedicated to Fairfield businessman and volunteer Dave Reiff. Reiff has been escorting Santa to Central Park on Christmas Eve for more than 30 years as a key organizer, supporter and driver of the Rotary Christmas parade.
Reiff said although he was at the forefront, the dedication was a nod to the Rotary because the parade has been the organization’s gift to the community for more than 80 years.
In past years, the lights have been dedicated to The Lord’s Cupboard director Pauline Rodgers in recognition of her work in the community; chamber of commerce’s holiday committee members, including Debbi Davis, who led a fundraising drive to build a storage building for the holiday decorations and the refurbishment of near-antique decorations, and Mark Stimson, who led efforts to revitalize and renovate the Santa Claus and reindeer carousel; Fairfield Rotary Club; Fairfield Lions Club; the late Glen “Doc” Shelangoski; the 224th Engineer Battalion of the Iowa Army National Guard; and many others who exemplify the holiday spirit.
The twinkling lights are Santa’s cue to make his way, in a horse-drawn Spees Pony Farm wagon, with a Fairfield police escort, to the northeast corner of Central Park, where he will visit with children from 6-8 p.m. in his Kandy Kane House.
After he drops off Santa, Eddie Spees of Birmingham will offer free horse-drawn wagon rides around the square from 6-8 p.m. The Fairfield Lions Club sponsors the rides, and members will be helping passengers in and out of the wagon.
“It’s a tradition here, and a lot of families enjoy looking at the lights from the wagon,” said Lion Rich Schaub.
Lions Club members also will be sponsoring their 11th annual fund-raising soup supper and live auction at the Fairfield Senior Citizen Center.
Lion Don Wallace said the Lions Club plans to donate proceeds from this year’s event to the African Violet Foundation, a local charity that provides Christmas gifts to teenagers in Jefferson County.
The supper, featuring Lion Doug Alexander’s “famous” homemade chili, along with chicken noodle soup, ham sandwiches, homemade pies and beverages, will be served from 5-7:30 p.m. for a freewill offering.
Alexander said some of the “premier” pies are held back from the supper and added to the auction list instead.
“Bee Johnson’s lemon meringue pie is a hot commodity,” he said.
The auction of locally donated items, ranging in value from $10 to $140 or more, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Wallace said auctioneer Edd Felgar has a lot of fun and does a super job.
For the second year, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will present a live nativity scene from 6-8 p.m. in its gazebo beside the church along Highway 1 South. A narration of the Christmas story, with music, animals and performers, will be presented.
The church also will have cookies, hot chocolate and coffee indoors for a time of fellowship, while Christmas carols are played on the piano. Admission is free.
Many Fairfield shops will be open late Friday, as they begin their holiday shopping hours, added Morrissey. CellTech, the local Verizon Wireless store, will be providing free hot cocoa and apple cider from 5:30-7 p.m. outside its store to warm up people watching the festivities on the square.
Morrissey also added the chamber is conducting its annual Trees of Lights campaign to raise funds for the holiday lights and decorations.
“Turning Fairfield into Christmas City each year is a large undertaking,” she said. “When you buy a bulb or make a donation toward decorations or their refurbishment, you are ensuring that the holiday tradition of the Fairfield Central Park lighting displays will continue.”
Morrissey explained a person or business can make a donation by buying a red bulb for $10; a green bulb for $25; a gold bulb for $50; a string of lights for $100; and a donation of $250 or more will be allocated to holiday display refurbishment.
Donations also can be made as memorials, she added.
The chamber will acknowledge donations and memorials received before Dec. 13, with the donor’s permission, by printing the list in The Fairfield Ledger.
For information, call the chamber at 472-2111 or visit its website at www.fairfieldiowa.com.