Nov. 18 2009 12:00 AM

Holiday season invades with Silver Bells’ light parade

While wearing sunglasses at night may seem pretentious, in addition to counterintuitive and slightly dangerous, it may be a necessity at Lansing’s 25th Annual Silver Bells in the City celebration, with more than 60 luminescent entrants set to take the streets in the 13th Annual Electric Light Parade.

A flagship feature of the city’s holiday celebration, the Electric Light Parade is certain to get people to see the light, with official parade rules stating “a minimum of 5,000 lights is required for a visible and well-lighted entry,” although Kate Katje, the parade’s coordinator, said most entrants sport a closer to 10,000 bulbs.

Unique to this year’s parade is a special group leading the procession in honor of Silver Bells’ 25th and Lansing’s 150th anniversaries that both Katje and Silver Bells coordinator Leslie Donaldson are mum on.

“It’s supposed to be a fun surprise for the community,” Donaldson deferred.

Katje went a step further. “It’s going to be the big ‘ta-da’ that nobody has ever seen before,” she said. Katje added with a laugh that, while it has the fire marshal “kind of nervous,” everything has been worked out.

In addition to the big surprise, the parade will feature seven high school marching bands and four horse units. The rest of the parade is made of classic float and vehicle parade entrants, all of which must follow strict guidelines through the application process. “We have a parade committee to make sure it falls within the theme of the holidays and has 5,000 lights and is something that will entertain the crowd,” Donaldson said.

Spectators at this year’s parade can expect to see gargantuan objects, like towers and trains, in miniature, as well as some smaller things on a larger than life scale, like a colossal cow and a fullfigured fish.

Donaldson said while many entrants return year after year, the parade features 11 new entrants for 2009.

Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler entered her dental office, Holly Scott-Hetchler, DDS, PC, for the first time in 2008 and is returning to the parade this year. “It’s just a fun thing the staff can work on together,” she said. “Helping to promote dental health in the community is a positive thing, and we try to come up with creative ways to promote it.”

Scott-Hetchler said while the lighting requirement for the parade is a bit of a challenge, it just makes her team get more creative. “It’s great team building; everybody works together and comes up with ideas and then we go crazy,” she said.

By re-using many elements from last year’s float, Scott-Hetchler said construction took only 10 to 15 hours compared to the almost 30 invested last year.

For those unable to view the parade in person, a live telecast will be shown in the Lansing Center.

As always, following the parade will be the lighting of Michigan’s official Christmas tree and a fireworks performance (weather permitting) over the Capitol. Even Santa will be in attendance, riding the Peacock Express Train in the parade.

Silver Bells will also feature horse-drawn wagon rides on Washington Square, self-guided Capitol tours and 50 entertainers across more than 20 sites in the festival area, ranging from Irish step dancing, to choral music, to the Lansing Symphony Quartet to soul music from Bettye LaVette.

The parade will begin at 6:10 p.m. at the corner of Lenawee Street and South Washington Square. The route will be north on Washington, west on Ottawa Street, south on Capitol Avenue and back to the staging area.

Silver Bells in the City

– 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 Downtown Lansing Electric light parade begins
at 6:10 p.m., followed by lighting of the State Christmas Tree,
fireworks and other festivities FREE (517) 372-4636