No snow to blanket the area with white is in the short-term forecast, but otherwise, you can count on a splendid holiday scene in Sylvania this weekend, complete with hot cocoa and cookies, carriage rides and a crackling fire, and the much-awaited arrival of Santa Claus.
Crowds will gather about 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Maplewood Mini Park at Maplewood Avenue and Main Street where McCord Junior High students will be caroling, said Joy Armstrong, director of the Sylvania Historical Village which hosts the annual Holiday Happenings. "This is our 15th year of us being the sponsor," she said.
Shortly after 4:30 p.m., eyes will turn towards Main Street to watch Santa's arrival.
As Santa comes down Main Street, riding in a carriage pulled by a magnificent team of Clydesdales, children in the crowd park typically jump up and down, shouting out out a chorus of "Oh Santa! Santa! He's here, he's here," Mrs. Armstrong said.
Mayor Craig Stough, who annually is on hand to officially welcome Santa to downtown Sylvania, said the Holiday Happenings is a "is a big event for area children. Parents bring the kids to see Santa Claus arrive and Santa Claus then meets with all the children who want to talk to him in the old train station behind the museum." Santa, the mayor said, "is the most popular piece" of the festivities.
Timing of the evening event adds some seasonal magic, he said. Holiday lights along the streets and lights in shop windows twinkle merrily as night falls. "Downtown will be beautiful that night," the mayor said, recalling the event a couple years ago when, as if on cue, snow started to fall as Santa came up Main Street.
Too, with the glow of the lights, it's just right to see the wide-eyed children waiting to see Santa, Mr. Stough said.
Before Santa makes his grand entrance at 4:45 p.m., tickets for a bike-give-away will be handed out to children -- not to adults, to children -- by members of the Sylvania Moose Lodge. Santa will draw the winning two tickets and award bikes to one lucky boy and one lucky girl. Then the crowd, led by Santa, strolls to the train depot at the nearby Sylvania Historical Village along Main Street, the pick up and drop off site for free carriage rides.
Free cookies and hot cocoa will be offered as well.
In addition, a blacksmith will be giving a demonstration in the blacksmith shop at the Sylvania Historical Village, and a fire in the fireplace of the village's log cabin will add to the nostalgic feel of the annual event, said Mrs. Armstrong, who has been a whirl of motion in recent weeks, decorating the village for the holiday. "When you see the faces of people as they come into the log home...well, there are a lot of Kodak moments."
The Holiday Happenings, which runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, traditionally draws about 500 people, but that number is weather dependent. Nice weather, bigger crowds. Naughty weather, smaller growds. Either way, though, the event sparkles with holiday festivities.
Holiday Happenings gives the Historical Village a chance to welcome area residents to its various attractions, including the Heritage Center Museum, housed in the former home of Dr. Uriah A. Cooke. Originally purchased in 1897 and renovated in 1902, the residence also was Dr. Cooke’s medical office from 1897 to 1942. Each year, the rooms of the three-story house are doctored up with decorations, giving the place a grand look from floors to ceiling beams. The decorated museum will be open to the public on Saturday.
Other Historical Village attractions include the 1840s log home that was acquired from an area near Weston, Ohio, dismantled and brought to its present location in the village. Reconstructed with new windows and roof, the log home represents the type of home inhabited by the first Sylvania settlers, a two-story home with the family living quarters on the main floor and a sleeping loft above.
The showpiece of the Historical Village is the railroad depot building that served Sylvania residents for 98 years, from 1858 to 1956. It is described as the oldest train depot in existence in Ohio. From this single small building, Sylvania sent its men to five wars over nearly a century, and served the community during the periods of the fastest growth the United States has ever known, with the invention of the telegraph, electricity, telephones, the automobile, the natural gas home furnace, and indoor plumbing. Built in 1858, the Sylvania Depot was donated by Gene Paul and Jack Newton in 1996 and moved to the Historical Village in March, 1997. It played a vital role in hundreds of thousands of lives, and plays an invaluable part in bringing Sylvania’s transportation history to life. The building has not been altered except to move two windows and a door for better viewing. Artifacts are displayed inside the building.
The village's Blacksmith & Carpentry Shop is housed in a replica of a barn typical of 1840s northwest Ohio. During tours, adults and schoolchildren experience the tools used by craftsmen and the products they made for Sylvania’s earlier residents. Visitors learn about the many items cast and formed that were used in everyday home life and transportation in early Sylvania, such as doorhandles and pot hooks to horseshoes and carriage parts.