City prepares for Christmas Festival

EAST LIVERPOOL — The city will kick off the holiday season with its Ceramic City Christmas Festival from 1-9 p.m. Saturday, featuring a full day of activities downtown, including the annual parade starting at 6 p.m.

The festival is being presented by the East Liverpool Community Partnership for Revitalization (ELCPR), while the parade and light up night is being presented by the Beacon Association.

Festival events will be centered in the Devon’s Diamond and East Sixth Street area, which will be closed to traffic between St. Clair Avenue and Broadway during those hours.

According to Kathy Hyatt Smith, the festival will include at least 40 arts and crafts vendors, with 80 percent of those selling hand-crafted items. They are coming from throughout the region, including Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Erie, she said.

Food vendors will include Casa D’Emanuel, Babcia’s Lunchbox, Bad Axe BBQ, Bulldogs, Evil Swine BBQ, Rolling Pepperoni, L&B Donuts and Pastor Peachey.

A beer and wine garden will be available, and mulled wine will be sold in a limited number of Fiesta mugs donated by the Homer Laughlin China Co.

Entertainment will begin at 1:30 p.m., with The Brothers Bean, Jacquelyn Paul, Funky Fly Project, Cross Current with Stacia Abbott and students from the Lincoln Park School of Performing Arts expected to perform.

The entertainment will continue until 9 p.m., with a break during the parade.

A S’mores Station will be set up at the fire pit in the fountain where festival-goers can enjoy the chocolatey-marshmallowy treats by the roaring fire.

For the younger set, face painting will be offered by Lori Adkins’ early childhood education classes from the high school.

High school career-tech and art students are also involved in the decorating for the festival, with the construction class making wooden trees that will be placed in the planters around the Diamond and decorated by the art classes.

Free digital photos with Santa will be offered in the Little Building foyer, taken by Jimmy Joe Savage, from 1-3 p.m. The photos will be downloaded to people’s cell phones on the spot, according to Hyatt Smith.

Vendors will be situated in pop-up shops in and around the Diamond area, with some also in heated tents along Sixth Street.

This year’s parade theme is “Spreading the Joy,” and the parade marshal, Darrel Doughty, was chosen because that’s what he does, according to Beacon Association President Brian Vaughn.

Doughty retired after 26 years with Giant Eagle, where he was the second client from the sheltered workshop to be hired.

Vaughn said Doughty attends Destiny House church and never misses a Sunday, sings in the Shippingport Community Building and is known for his charismatic personality.

So far, 80 units have registered to participate in the parade, and Vaughn said he hopes to top last year’s 100 units, with registration open until the night before the event by calling him at 330-831-5754. He said last-minute registrations are always accepted the day of the event but pre-registration is encouraged.

This year, Vaughn said he has registered several new church groups who will be entering floats and said he is expecting at least five marching bands to participate.

Antique vehicles, dance troupes and some motorcycle groups have also registered, with Vaughn saying, “It seems like we’re going to have a little bit of everything.”

As he traditionally does, that jolly old elf, Santa, will bring up the rear of the parade, escorted by the city firefighters on their special unit.

The winners of this year’s Jack Frost, Little Miss Snowflake, Snow King and Snow Queen competitions will also ride with Santa. Those interested in that contest can contact Paula Vaughn at 330-853-8630 for more information.

At the conclusion of the parade, the Beacon Association will host the annual Light Up Night, expected to get under way at 7:30 p.m., when the 40-foot decorated spruce is lit for the first time by Mayor Ryan Stovall.

The tree was donated by the Andrew Zubay family of Chester Avenue, with Pusateri Excavating donating the equipment to transport the tree downtown, and city street crews putting it up.

The ELCPR group plans on decorating the tree this weekend.

During the lighting ceremony,the parade marshal or his representative will offer remarks, and the East Liverpool High School choir will perform seasonal music.

Also during they day, the Beacons will again sponsor a Fill-A-Truck campaign, with two pickup trucks donated by Hancock County Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep to be in place by 11:30 a.m. the day of the festival.

People can place new clothing, toys and non-perishable food items in the trucks’ beds which will be given to the local Salvation Army for distribution to those less fortunate.

Hyatt Smith said the primary sponsors for the festival are East Liverpool City Hospital, Heritage Thermal Services, Miller-Valentine, Calcutta Health Care and Fox Nursing Home, and she also commended Craig Newbold for use of the Little Building during the event.