Silver Bells playbook

By Allan I. Ross

Annual holiday extravaganza takes over downtown on Friday

After last year’s abbreviated winter (seen as a reprieve by many mid-Michigan cryophobes), the calendar has finally reset itself back to cold weather mode, whether we like it or not. And, aside from the three festive macro-cannonballs stacked in the traffic circle at Michigan Avenue and Washington Square, the first official sign of the holiday season is here: the 28th annual Silver Bells in the City celebration, which takes place on Friday.

“Every year, we try to make Silver Bells more exciting than the previous year,” said Cathleen Edgerly, communications and marketing manager for Downtown Lansing Inc., which coordinates the festival. “This year we have more parade floats, more marching bands and the tallest tree Silver Bells has seen yet.”

That would be the state Christmas tree (fun fact: it’s a Concolor fir), which will be lit immediately following the Electric Light Parade starting just after 6 p.m. at the corner of Washington and Lenawee Street. Then, weather permitting, the last fireworks show of the year will explode over the dome of the Capitol, launching a thousand Facebook status updates.

Edgerly says that over 130,000 people came to Silver Bells last year. If the weather cooperates — the latest forecasts call for clear skies and highs in the decidedly un-bitter upper 40s — expect a similar turnout. Of course, if it gets too cold, there are dozens of indoor activities around downtown to choose from, including a children’s play at Riverwalk Theatre and a woodwind quartet in the CATA Transportation Center.

Free parking is available in all city- and state-owned parking ramps during the event, including the Roosevelt ramp (corner of Ottawa Street and Seymour Avenue); the parking lots behind the Hall of Justice off Ottawa and Allegan streets; the Lewis Cass Lot; and the lots south of the Michigan Historical Museum off Kalamazoo Street. Or if you prefer to leave your car at home, CATA offers 50 cent round trip fares for all Silver Bells routes.

Silver Bells in the City
Parade starts at 6:10 p.m.
Downtown Lansing
Full schedule of activities at