A flip of a switch Friday evening during the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s lighting dedication ceremony in Central Park will once again transform Fairfield into The Christmas City.
Chelsey Haynes, the chamber’s event coordinator, said the annual holiday lighting dedication ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m., with past and present Fairfield High School choir members, under the direction of FHS vocal music teacher Zach Reiter, singing holiday classics near the Ron Prill Bandstand.
Following the choir’s performance, the 2018 lighting dedication honoree, a well-kept secret until the ceremony, will be announced, and the honoree will “flip the switch right at 6 p.m.,” said Haynes.
The colorful twinkling lights are Santa’s cue to make his way to the northeast corner of Central Park, where he will meet with children from 6-8 p.m. in his newly updated Kandy Kane House.
Haynes said Santa’s mode of travel depends on the weather. He is scheduled to arrive in Doug Smith’s horse-drawn wagon, but if it is raining — “and there is rain in the forecast … we want to keep the horses out of the rain,” so Santa should arrive courtesy of the Fairfield Police Department.
If the weather cooperates, Smith also will be giving wagon rides around park for a view of the lights and decorations, including the new nativity scene in the southeast quadrant of the park.
Haynes said Gavin Hammes built a new stable for the nativity scene last year using materials from a barn that was being dismantled in Jefferson County. This year, new figurines will be set in the stable.
The chamber conducts an annual Trees of Lights campaign to raise funds for the holiday lights and decorations, the lighting dedication and horse-drawn wagon rides. Donations help keep the tradition alive.
A person or business can made a donation by “buying” a red bulb for $10; a green bulb for $25; a gold bulb for $50; a string of lights for $100; a display refurbishment for $250; or any amount for horse-drawn wagon rides.
The lights dedication recognizes an individual or organization exemplifying the “holiday spirit.” Last year, the lights were dedicated to the Fairfield Kiwanis Club because of its contributions to the community, including the annual Kiwanis Kid’s Day parade and pancake breakfast, presentations of scholarships, purchasing playground equipment and more. President Pete Tollenaere and active member Toni Griffith had the honor of flipping the switch.
In years past, the lights have also been dedicated to Dave Reiff who has been escorting Santa’s to Central Park on Christmas Eve for more than 30 years as a key organizer, supporter and driver of the Rotary Christmas Parade; Pauline Rodgers in recognition of her work in the community; the chamber of commerce’s holiday committee members, including Debbi Davis, who led a fundraising drive to build a storage building for the holiday decorations and the refurbishment of near-antique decorations, Mark Stimson, who led efforts to revitalize and renovate the Santa Claus and reindeer carousel; Fairfield Rotary Club; Fairfield Lions Club; the late Glen “Doc” Shelangoski; the 224th Engineer Battalion of the Iowa Army National Guard; and many others who have exemplified the holiday spirit.
The donations also can be made as memorials, and those donations and memorials received by Dec. 21 to the chamber will be published and acknowledged.
For details about helping with the Trees of Lights, contact the chamber by calling 472-2111 or emailing events@FairfieldIowa.com.