Events to kick off Christ­mas sea­son

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

Santa Claus is com­ing to town, and Ne­wark kids will have three chances to meet him this week­end.

The fes­tiv­i­ties be­gin tonight with the city’s Win­ter­fest cel­e­bra­tion, which has marked the un­of­fi­cial start of the Christ­mas sea­son in Ne­wark since 1995.

The event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. on Main Street’s Academy Lawn, with Santa’s ar­rival and the tree light­ing cer­e­mony set for 6:30.

The fes­ti­val also in­cludes an ice-carv­ing demon­stra­tion, roasted chest­nuts and a chance to take pho­tos with Santa, as well as per­for­mances by Ms. Denise and the Ne­wark Com­mu­nity Band.

Reg­u­lar down­town park­ing fees will be in place. The rain date is Satur­day

evening; call 302-366-7147 for weather-re­lated can­ce­la­tion in­for­ma­tion.

The Rein­deer Run, a 5K that ben­e­fits Spe­cial Olympics Delaware, will be held in con­junc­tion with Win­ter­fest, be­gin­ning at 7 p.m. in front of the fire sta­tion on Academy Street. Day-of regis­tra­tion is $30.

Last year’s event drew more than 1,500 par­tic­i­pants and raised $61,000 for Spe­cial Olympics Delaware. In the event’s 11year his­tory, more than $405,000 has been raised.

“Be­cause of the unique­ness of this event, it at­tracts peo­ple from all over the area,” Lisa Smith, di­rec­tor of de­vel­op­ment for Spe­cial Olympics Delaware, said in a pre­pared state­ment. “Whether you are a se­ri­ous run­ner or just want to bring the fam­ily to down­town Ne­wark for Win­ter­fest, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Rein­deer Run and Romp is the per­fect way to give back to the com­mu­nity dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.”

On Satur­day morn­ing, the Ne­wark Parks and Recre­ation Depart­ment will host Snack with Santa at the Ge­orge Wil­son Cen­ter on New Lon­don Road.

The an­nual event in­cludes games, crafts, snacks and photo op­por­tu­ni­ties with Santa from 9:30 un­til 11:30 a.m. Ven­dors will set up Santa’s Se­cret Shoppe, where kids can buy gifts un­der $5 for fam­ily mem­bers and friends. Ad­mis­sion is $2 per per­son.

On Satur­day evening, Ne­wark res­i­dent Christa “Brandy” Fowler will in­vite the com­mu­nity to her home to view her light dis­play and visit Santa.

The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at 27 Winslow Road. Park­ing is avail­able on Winslow, Townsend and Or­chard roads.

Fowler started the event last year, ex­plain­ing that while grow­ing up in Ne­wark in the 1970s and 1980s, she trea­sured her an­nual trips to Ne­wark Shop­ping Cen­ter to see Santa Claus. Feel­ing nos­tal­gic af­ter watch­ing old build­ings get torn down and other parts of Ne­wark his­tory fall by the way­side, she de­cided to start a new Christ­mas tra­di­tion.

She dec­o­rated al­most her en­tire front yard with Christ­mas lights, hired some­one to play Santa and took out a newspaper ad invit­ing the gen­eral public to her yard.

“The city of Ne­wark is chang­ing so much,” Fowler said last year. “I thought I’d bring back some­thing I loved about Ne­wark.”

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Gabriela Siebecker, 6, talks to Santa as dad Matt looks on dur­ing last year’s Win­ter­fest.

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