Dover prepares to deck the halls

The Thursday edition of the Delaware State News will include the annual “Holiday Events and Celebrations” section. It includes the lyrics to carols so you can sing along at the Capital Celebration in Dover Thursday night.

DOVER — Contrary to popular belief, it is not elves that are imported to take care of the work when it comes to putting up the sparkling lights and decorating for festive holiday events in downtown Dover.

That chore actually lies with eight or nine members of the Grounds Division for the city of Dover’s Public Works Department, whose main focus is stringing the lights on the trees and testing thousands of bulbs up and down Loockerman Street to make sure everything is working properly.

It is their diligence that will be on display when Mayor Robin Christiansen flips the switch that will light up the trees in front of City Hall at the Capital Holiday Celebration on Thursday night at 6.

“They have most things finished up just in time for lighting up the Capital Holidays Celebration on Thursday,” said Sharon J. Duca, director of Dover’s Public Works Department. “They have been hard at work since October getting ready for this.

“We actually frequently get compliments on our city’s holiday decorations. It seems to be something people enjoy.”

This year, there will be three holiday events in three-consecutive days in Downtown Dover for the community to enjoy – the Capital Holiday Celebration, First Friday and Saturday’s Home for the Holidays Parade, the first-ever night-time parade through Dover.

Read the 2017 Holiday Events and Celebration Guide in Thursday’s edition of the Delaware State News – which also includes caroling lyrics – to find out even more about upcoming events in Dover, as well as holiday happenings in other cities and towns in Kent and Sussex counties.

Getting it all kicked off

The Capital Holiday Celebration, sponsored by the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, gets the holiday season started in a big way with various activities on Loockerman Street Thursday night from 5 until 8 in Dover.

The event starts on the east end of Loockerman Street at the Dover Public Library and stretches as far west as near the Duncan Center.

It features a food drive, the singing of carols and the traditional tree lighting.

Mayor Christiansen said the event holds a special place in his heart.

“It kicks off a very busy, but fun, time of the year and hopefully for merchants and everybody shopping downtown it will be a prosperous shopping season and kids young and old will be on their best behavior, because the elf on the shelf will be watching them,” the mayor said.

There will be holiday musical entertainment at three points on Loockerman Street – in front of City Hall, at Loockerman Way Plaza (home of the Santa House) and near the Duncan Center.

Several events begin at 5 p.m., such as children’s crafts at the library. Visitors can also catch a glimpse of some sugar plum fairies doing spot performances of the Nutcracker Ballet by the Dance Conservatory Ballet Theatre and The Delaware Ballet.

The Delaware Youth Chorale will perform in front of City Hall and there will be a living Nativity scene just across the street at Wesley United Methodist Church.

A little farther west, at Loockerman Way Plaza, holiday music will be performed by: Imagine, Calvary Assembly of God, I Believe in Dover Holiday Ensemble and the Deep Water Church Ensemble.

Caroling in front of City Hall begins around 6 p.m., just after the tree lighting ceremony.

Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive at 6:45 p.m. and will lead the way to the shopping district and even more celebrations.

Performances on the west end of Loockerman near the Duncan Center will take place by: MC Christian comedian JREAM, as well as musical performances by Rebecca Gasperetti; William Henry Middle School Ensemble; Amani Ciarra; and The Young Voices of Solid Rock.

To remind everybody that this is a season for giving, canned food collection stations will be set up in three locations: near City Hall, near the Santa House at Loockerman Way Plaza and near the Duncan Center at 500 Loockerman St.

Free parking will be available throughout downtown Dover, including lots on Bradford Street, North Street, Minor Street, Loockerman Way and Governors Avenue, along the street and near the Duncan Center.

First Friday fits in nicely

December’s First Friday event, hosted by Downtown Dover Happenings from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Loockerman Street, happens to fit in perfectly with the city’s other holiday events this week.

On First Fridays of every month, shops remain open late downtown and this Friday night will be an opportunity to shop local for holiday gifts for friends and family.

Since the event this month will take place after Thursday’s tree lighting ceremony, Dover will be lit up in its holiday finest.

Live music, food trucks, face painting and a visit from Santa promise to make the evening more than a local shopping spree — it will be a fun night for the whole family.

A first for the city

The Home for the Holidays Parade, scheduled for Saturday at 6:30 p.m., is believed to be the first nighttime parade that will take place in the city of Dover.

It will highlight a day featuring a Holiday Marketplace at Loockerman Way Plaza from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Joan Cote, executive director for the Dover Downtown Partnership, which is hosting the event, thinks it will be an exciting Saturday for the city’s residents.

“It’s actually going to be a nearly day-long celebration with events that are happening in Loockerman Plaza and going right into our first nighttime parade,” Ms. Cote said. “We have close to 40 entries for the parade, including Dover High School’s band and its Rolling Thunder Drum Line.

“We will have a lot of children’s groups, too.”

Dover’s holiday parade traditionally takes place on a Saturday morning, but the organizers opted to make a change this year.

“We reflected on the success of previous years and wanted to shake things up a little,” said Ami Leaming, a second-year volunteer in organizing the parade. “We thought a night time parade would really bring in the magical feeling of the holidays, especially under the lighted trees that go down Loockerman Street.”

The nighttime parade will start at Federal Street (Legislative Mall) and will run west down Loockerman Street to Queen Street, ending near the Wesley College stadium.

Santa Claus will be in his house on Loockerman Way Plaza after the parade.

Ms. Cote said that Thursday through Saturday should provide something for everyone in Dover to enjoy.

“That’s several days of celebrating the holiday’s downtown,” she said. “We strategically did it that way so that it will be a whole big block of days celebrating the holidays in downtown Dover.”

While there isn’t a forecast for snow for any of the three nights of holiday celebrations in Dover, Mayor Christiansen said it should still be a special time.

“No matter what the weather is just as long as everyone in attendance has warm hearts, that’s all that we’re hoping for,” he said.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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