Thursday, November 30, 2017
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The annual holiday parade and Christmas tree lighting in downtown Youngstown has been getting bigger every year, and this year’s event promises to be the best yet.
It will take place Friday along Federal Street, and will build on past years’ successes.
There will be activities for children and adults, and free admission to OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology.
The five downtown-gateway art projects that were commissioned this year are expected to be finished and on display.
The centerpiece of the evening, as always, will be the parade, which is expanded this year. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. and run the length of Federal Street from east to west, from the post office area to Vindicator Square.
The tree lighting ceremony will take place immediately after the parade on Central Square, about 7:15 p.m., followed by the arrival of Santa and photos with him in 20 Federal Place.
The parade will include six marching bands – there were two last year – from Ursuline, East, Lakeview, West Branch, East Liverpool and United Local high schools.
The grand marshal of the parade this year is Home Savings Bank, which provided transportation for the more than 500 marching band students to the parade and an additional $1,000 gift to each school’s band program. Home employees and their families will ride on a 28-foot winter wonderland float.
Local rock band The Vindys will perform on a stage in Central Square before the parade and immediately after the tree lighting, and the Youngstown Connection also will perform on the same outdoor stage.
Other activities that evening include:
OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology, free admission from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Dueling Pianos at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts on North Phelps Street.
Youngstown Phantoms hockey game at 7:30 p.m. at Covelli Centre.
The film “The Wizard of Oz” screening (donations accepted) at 8 p.m. at Youngstown Cinema’s space in the McKelvey Gallery on the third floor of the Knox Building, 110 W. Federal St.
Shuttle bus service around the downtown area from 6:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
Holiday Flea gift shopping by Youngstown Flea craftsmen at the DeYor Performing Arts Center.
The Holiday Flea debuted last year and will expand throughout the DeYor theaters and lobbies this year, said Michael McGiffin, director of downtown events.
Crafters and artists will display and sell their unique handmade works in the grand lobby of Powers Auditorium, the upstairs lobby and inside the adjacent Flad Pavilion.
“It is essentially the rebirth of Christmas shopping in downtown Youngstown,” said McGiffin.
Youngstown Flea was started a couple of years ago and has well-attended monthly sales in the area outside Covelli Centre.
McGiffin took over parade planning and has been working to make it a premiere event. He moved it from Saturday to Friday, to take advantage of the downtown workers who are already in town. By starting at 6:30 p.m., it gives parents time to go home and return with their children.
“We also increased production values tremendously with a high-end sound system and lighting,” said McGiffin.
The five downtown-gateway art projects are the result of the INPLACE project, which was funded by a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by Youngstown State University.
Three of the projects have been completed for several weeks. They are a sculpture in front of The Vindicator building; a bus shelter that repurposes a shipping container on East Boardman Street; and a small outdoor stage on North Hazel Street, between Commerce Street and Rayen Avenue.
The fourth and fifth projects will make their debut Friday night.
A system that will use lighting technology to project messages and art on the south side of the City Hall annex when it’s complete is one.
The other is the lighting of the unused concrete railway arch bridge over Mahoning Avenue, just a few blocks west of downtown.
The lighting project will use the Stambaugh Building on Central Square as its canvas Friday night. The building is currently being renovated into a Doubletree Hotel.
The railroad arch lighting might be the most unusual of the five projects.
It was being installed this week. “If all goes well, we’ll have it turned on Friday,” said David Tamulonis, the Boardman native and Youngstown resident who was a principal designer of the project.
There will be nine energy-efficient LED lights down the middle of the arch’s ceiling, and continuous LED light strips around both edges, he said.
“The lights are amber, dark orange-ish, and will give the effect of a glowing steel furnace,” said Tamulonis, a recent YSU grad who is the marketing coordinator of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Tamulonis was part of a group of YSU and Kent State University students who took part in a design effort put together by the McDonough Museum a few years ago. The goal was to find ways to improve the Mahoning Commons neighborhood and create links between downtown and Mill Creek Park.
He based it on similar public lighting projects in other cities.