Come Home to Galion supplies Christmas fun
By Sarah Einselen
Saturday’s a big day in Galion. The third annual Come Home to Galion Christmas celebrations will culminate in a parade and tree lighting ceremony late that afternoon, following several free musical performances and other events, including carriage rides.
Joel Sanchez, who in past years headed up the Come Home to Galion plans, has stepped back this year, anticipating a move to New Mexico. Other Galionites have taken the lead, including members of the Galion Ministerial Association, the main backer of the day’s festivities. Sanchez still had a hand in the plans, though, and expects this year to be the best one so far.
“We’re really trying to create a family atmosphere where people can have a bowl of soup or hot cider,” Sanchez said of the Come Home to Galion events. He and other community leaders have been planning for Saturday’s celebration all year and have received “incredible” support from local sponsors. “People have been very supportive of the event,” he said.
The day starts in the Galion West Shopping Center at 10 a.m. with real reindeer to entertain children, plus crafts, balloon clowns and a food stand. To top off the morning, major league baseball player J. B. Shuck will be present until noon to sign autographs. Shuck, a Galion native, has been named grand marshal of the Come Home to Galion parade, accompanying honorary marshal Sanchez. Shuck will also participate in the tree lighting ceremony on the square.
The public square will come alive at 1 p.m. with free carriage rides—a perennial delight for celebrants, Sanchez said—and food booths and entertainment. Several churches and other nonprofit organizations will sell hot foods and cider to raise money for their respective purposes. An ice sculptor will make a first appearance on the square, as well, to demonstrate ice carving from 1:30 until 3:30 p.m.
Soloist Kim Lovely from the Galion Free Methodist Church will perform pop Christmas songs on the square at 1:15 p.m., followed by the Galion Alumni Band. Lovely will also perform at the library. The Galion Alliance Brass band will take the stage on the square at 3:30 p.m.
Two of Uptowne’s major architectural landmarks will hold open houses. The Galion Public Library just off the square will host the Galion Showtunes at 1 p.m., Mansfield crooner Jeff Helvie at 1:30 p.m., and Kim Lovely at 2 p.m. Entries in the gingerbread house contest will be displayed, as well as art featured in the Come Home to Galion calendar, and cookies and punch will be served to open house visitors. The library open house ends at 3 p.m.
Those longed-for carriage rides will also depart from the library from 1 until 3 p.m.
For little tykes, the library children’s staff will hold special holiday story times at 1:20 and 2:10 p.m. Children may also participate in children’s craft time in the library community room.
Brownella Cottage will be open for free self-guided tours from 1 until 4 p.m. The historic residence will be decorated as it may have looked in 1887, and according to Galion Historical Society executive director Amber Wertman, local artists will display their work, too. “There will be no set tour times or tour guides, just volunteers stationed throughout the house to answer any questions there may be,” Wertman said.
As the historical society’s open house winds down, the Come Home to Galion parade will step off from Heise Park at 4 p.m. and proceed down Gill Avenue and east through town on Harding Way until arriving at the Big Four Depot. More than 40 organizations have entered floats, cars or marchers in the parade, Sanchez said. The Galion High School Band will lead off and the city’s Girl Scouts will be marching behind the parade’s horses, scooping droppings to earn their service badges. Santa Claus, atop a city fire truck, and the alumni band will bring up the rear.
Just after the parade, participants will migrate back to the square to sing carols and hear a reading of the Christmas story at the annual tree lighting ceremony to begin at approximately 4:40 p.m. Local pastors Rick Maddox, Joe Stafford, Tom Snode and Sam Buehrer will lead the gathering. Parade marshal J. B. Shuck will draw the name of one of the six coloring contest winners to choose the child who will throw the switch to light the 50-foot tree on the square.