A youngster tells his Christmas wishes to Santa Claus at Grove City's holiday open house. The open house, now known as Olde Town Grove City Christmas Extravaganza, has been expanded to include more businesses and entertainment.

Elves, snowflakes and a certain jolly fat man in a red suit will be stopping by Olde Town Grove City Dec. 1 for the annual downtown Christmas celebration.

Expanding from the annual Christmas Open House event held downtown for the past 20 years, this year’s Olde Town Grove City Christmas Extravaganza aims to be much bigger in comparison.

“It’s going to be huge,” Lisa Pritchard, Olde Town Grove City manager, predicted. “It’s truly something different this year.”

The Extravaganza will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and will be followed by the annual Christmas parade at 7 p.m.

According to Pritchard, visitors can expect much more entertainment and events at this year’s event.

“We’ve added a ton of things we’ve never done before,” Pritchard said. “We are celebrating our beautiful new downtown and hope to make this a terrific community event.”

Some of the new additions include musical performances by more than 25 local bands, Christmas train rides, strolling bagpipers and puppet shows – all of which will take place at businesses, shops and churches all throughout downtown Grove City.

While the extravaganza does not officially kick off until 3 p.m., downtown festivities will actually start at 10 a.m. with the Olde Town Christmas Shoppe, which will be held at AquaScape, 147 S. Broad St.

The program will be used to promote home-based and specialty businesses in the area, Pritchard said. An anticipated crowd favorite will be an Amish donut maker, who will cook the fresh, homemade pastries right on the spot, she added.

The fun continues at 11:30 a.m. with a special Christmas showing of “Elf” at the Guthrie Theater.

While there is no set price for tickets, a $1 minimum donation is required of movie-goers. The donations will benefit Hillview Heartfelt Holiday Fund at Hillview Intermediate Center.

Guthrie owners Paula and Eric Thomas are partnering with the school to make this holiday movie an inexpensive family treat and a way to give back to the community, according to Pritchard.

In addition, Froggy 95.1 FM will be broadcasting live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mary Jo’s Creations, while Santa will be available for pictures at 2 p.m. at Crafter’s Nook and Calico Loft. A puppet show will also be held at 2:30 p.m. at Tower Presbyterian Church.

After snacking on cookies, watching elves on the big screen and visiting with Santa, residents can begin to prepare for the official kickoff of the Olde Town Grove City Christmas Extravaganza at 3 p.m.

The East Main Youth Band will perform at the Grace United Methodist Church tent, while the Grove City College Chamber Singers will entertain at Solid Rock Assembly of God.

Community members can also embark on a stained glass window tour at Tower Presbyterian Church or get their picture taken with Santa Claus at Nancy’s Hair Loft.

Music and entertainment will continue throughout the day, including performances by Marla Voltz at 5 p.m. at Broad Street Music and Treebeard Brown at 3:15 p.m. at Nancy’s Hair Loft.

According to Joyce Blume, chairperson of the Olde Town Christmas committee and owner of Blume ’N Hair downtown, the performers she was looking forward to the most were the Grove City Area High School Show Choir, who will be performing from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at Solid Rock and 6:30 to 7 p.m. at the Grace Methodist Church tent.

“I’ve heard they are fantastic,” Blume said. “There are also a lot of groups from (Grove City College) performing. It’ll be nice to hear since we don’t often get a chance to hear college bands.”

While music entertainment will be abundant during the Christmas celebration, visitors can also embark on a Christmas train ride on College Avenue.

Ccommunity members are also encouraged to visit all of the downtown merchants.

According to Pritchard, downtown merchants will raffle off two gift baskets filled with goodies from their stores.

Included in the gift baskets will be various gift certificates, hair products from all of the downtown hair salons, jewelry from Joden and much more.

“It’s a great value and things are still coming in (from downtown merchants),” Pritchard added.

According to Blume, visitors will be able to sign up for the gift basket raffles at each individual businesses downtown.

“The more businesses you visit the more chances you have (of winning a gift basket),” Blume explained. “Each business will pull two names (from their raffle bag) and (Pritchard) will put all those names together and pull the winning names.”

Both Blume and Pritchard said they hope the gift baskets, along with all the new entertainment, will attract a large crowd to this year’s Christmas celebration.

In past years, the Christmas Open Houses attracted around 300 visitors to downtown, according to Pritchard. She hopes many more will attend this year.

“Everybody is really excited (for this year’s event),” Pritchard said. “I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback.”

One of the reasons for the positive feedback is due to changing the date of the Olde Town Grove City Christmas Extravaganza to a Saturday rather than a Sunday.

In previous years, the downtown open houses were always held on a Sunday – which provided time conflicts with churchgoers and, of course, Steelers fans.

“It’s nice to have (the Olde Town Grove City Christmas Extravaganza) and the Christmas parade on one day so people can come out for the whole event,” Pritchard said.

In order to decorate for the Olde Town Grove City Christmas Extravaganza, 26 downtown businesses have paired with 26 local non-profits to decorate the downtown area for the first-ever Parade of Trees.

Each non-profit organization was assigned a business partner for the Parade of Trees, with the partner providing the tree and the space and the non-profit organizations decorating their trees, many using themes from their organization.

The new snowflake decorations for the light poles downtown are also set to be on display for the Olde Town Grove City Christmas Extravaganza. Pritchard said 32 snowflakes are scheduled to be delivered Nov. 28 and should be fully operational by Dec. 1.

“We are hoping to unveil them that day,” Pritchard said.

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