Nov. 20 2013 12:00 AM

Lansing’s 29th annual festival returns with new faces

The 29th Annual Silver Bells in the City festivities include the Electric Light Parade, a holiday market, the State Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and live performances by Radio Disney performers. (No giant teddy bears or wrecking ball riding, we think.)

What began as a simple parade in 1985 has grown into downtown Lansing’s biggest annual community event, drawing an average of 100,000 people per year. This is the third year Cathleen Edgerly, spokeswoman for Downtown Lansing Inc., has been involved with the organizing of the festival.

“There’s such a sense of community and excitement,” she said. “Especially with the tree lighting and the fireworks, the kids get so excited.”

Some returning favorites include the Silver Bells 5 K Fun Run/Walk, which begins at 5 p.m. The Silver Bells Village, set up on the corner of Allegan Street and Grand Avenue, offers a place to start some holiday shopping. The village includes places to pick up fine art (Absolute Gallery, Silver Bells Ornaments) food (Uncle Calvin’s Sweet Potato Pies, What Up Dawg) and specialty desserts (Doll’s Cookie Basket, Hot Chocolate Bliss, Jenna Marie Gourmet Chocolates.)

Edgerly said the event attracts locals as well as visitors from outside the area, filling hotel rooms and sampling the local cuisine. This year, there are two performers entertaining on the steps of the Capitol: Macy Kate, a young singer will open for the boy band IM5. Edgerly said that performances like these are geared toward the teenage crowd and over the years, it’s proven successful. Since they’ve advertised for these acts, Edgerly noticed an increase in attendance, especially among younger people.

Teens come and stay with their families for the performance.

Free parking is available in all city and state-owned parking ramps. The CATA Buses will be available to take residents and visitors alike around the downtown area for 50 cents round-trip from 5-10 p.m.