Let it snow, and let it glow and sparkle. That’s what the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) elves have in mind this week as they busily prepare Public Square for the holidays and the upcoming Winterfest on Saturday, Nov. 25.
Decorating is already in full swing, but will officially kick off today, Tuesday, Nov. 14, with the arrival of the holiday tree. The evergreen, donated by the Hlavin family, makes its debut on the north end of Public Square around 2:30 p.m.
“Each year, we put out a call to Clevelanders to submit photos of their homegrown evergreens to be considered as the Downtown Cleveland holiday tree,” explains DCA president Joe Marinucci. “The Hlavin family of Sagamore Hills offered us a 50-foot-tall evergreen that has been growing at their home for years and was perfect. We’re so pleased that they answered our call and that we may feature the tree so prominently in Public Square for all to enjoy.”
At Winterfest on Nov. 25, the tree will be officially lit for the season. The lighting ceremony starts at 6 p.m. when special guests and Cleveland elected officials will light up Public Square, followed by a fireworks show and a concert by Nashville recording artist A.C. Jones.
And, of course, Santa Claus will pay a visit to the crowd.
The lighting and decorating of downtown is made possible by DCA, GE Lighting, and Cleveland Public Power. IBEW Local 38 is donating all of the labor involved, while GE Lighting donated 500,000 lights to decorate downtown—a tradition for more than 30 years.
Winterfest begins at 1 p.m. The Cleveland Foundation brings back the ice skating rink, which will be free during the event, and there will be free horse-drawn carriage rides from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Ticket passes are available starting at 12:30 p.m. in the tent across from the Old Stone Church.
Other attractions include a kids’ village that will have samples of Jack Frost donuts and Great Lakes Cheese; gourmet food trucks; and a Winterfest Pop Up Shop inside Tower City, featuring area retailers curated by Cleveland Bazaar.
Live music also begins at 1 p.m. with DJ $krilla, followed by Ashley Fulton at 2 p.m., the Ohio City Singers at 3 p.m., and Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons at 4 p.m.
The Harlem Globetrotters will make an appearance at 3:30 p.m., followed by the Year of Stokes Tribute (presented by Tri-C) at 4:30 p.m. The tribute will feature live performances by Dominick Farinacci & the Stokes Legacy Jazz Orchestra and Peter Lawson Jones as Carl Stokes. At 5:15 p.m., there will be an interactive stage performance with Fusion Live.