SHELBY TOWNSHIP — For more than 30 years, Shelby Township’s festive event, Christmas Aglow, has been ringing in the season.
With temperatures in the mid-30s, families came to see Santa, watch choir and dance performances from local high schools, enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, participate in crafts and Christmas-list writing, roast marshmallows, and enjoy free hot dogs and hot chocolate.
“We had a really nice turnout; the weather was good, and all the families there seemed like they had a really enjoyable time,” Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Department Director Joe Youngblood said. “It was a free event, thanks to the sponsors.”
New this year was a line-dancing clinic, courtesy of the Utica High School dance team. The dance team performed in Santa hats, and the Eisenhower High School choir sang carols.
Santa Claus came onstage after the performances and, along with Mrs. Claus, accepted the key to the township from Girl Scout Troop No. 70340 from Crissman Elementary. Shortly afterward, the jolly old elf and the children counted down from three to set a pine tree beside the stage aglow with Christmas lights.
“Even though we don’t have a downtown, per se, (Christmas Aglow) gives you a small, downtown feel with the old buildings and the church,” Youngblood said. “And thanks to our maintenance department, who did a wonderful job decorating.”
Jordan and Jackie Liscinsky, of Shelby Township, attended Christmas Aglow for the first time with their 3-year-old daughter, Gwenie.
“They put on a great show for the kids. (Gwenie) loved it,” Jordan Liscinsky said, adding that they were able to get right up to the front of the band shell stage. “Now, she’s excited to see Santa.”
Becky Tidwell said her husband, Norm, and three boys — Norman, 11, Nicholas, 9, and Collin, 5 — have attended Christmas Aglow every year for the last four years.
“Every year, we have a great time. This is our No. 1 spot for seeing Santa and Mrs. Claus,” she said. “She’s (Mrs. Claus) so nice. She hugs all the kids and loves all the kids.”
Tidwell said the family definitely would return next year. After visiting Santa and telling him their Christmas wish lists, the boys said they were ready for hot chocolate, and Tidwell said she was looking forward to a horse-drawn carriage ride.
When the big windstorm hit the area in late November, Youngblood said the township lost its grand Christmas tree that the township used for its tree-lighting.
“Our beautiful spruce blew over, so our guys had to remove it,” he said. “We’re looking for next year to plant a new one. It was probably the nicest tree we had on the municipal campus. Big pines don’t have a real deep root system.”
Crews strung lights across a large pine tree, although it was half the size of the fallen spruce, located next to the band shell, and Christmas was saved.
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