Baldwin’s Festival of Lights

Festival of Lights

For more on the Festival of Lights, visit the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce’s website.

The Graham Brothers fire truck Baldwin City bought new off the assembly line in 1928 will again serve the city at the community’s Dec. 7 Festival of Lights.

Fire Chief Allen Craig said he didn’t know whether more miles were put on the fire truck answering fires back in its heyday or as a popular parade vehicle since it was restored in 1973.

“It’s been in a lot of them,” Craig said. “We used to take it to parades in Ottawa and Gardner. I’ve driven the truck in every Festival of Lights Parade since it replaced the old Christmas Parade about 20 years ago.”

It’s a popular parade entry for children because it always carries Santa Claus in the back. Playing that role in the parade, as he has for the past 33 years, will be Allen’s old friend Gary Browne.

“I gave him the chance once to ride our new Quint (fire truck) instead,” Craig said. “He chose the Graham.”

The truck will be decked with strings of lights for the night, as will all other vehicles entered in the Festival of Lights Parade, said Tammy Michael, who is organizing the event for the Baldwin City Recreation Commission.

The parade is just one of the Dec. 7 events kicking off the local holiday season, Michael said. The day will start with the recreation commission’s annual Breakfast with Santa at 9 a.m. at the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center, 100 Bullpup Drive. Chris Cakes will provide a $7 breakfast for those families meeting Santa Claus.

Activities then will shift to the Lumberyard Arts Center, 718 High St., where children will be invited to decorate their own gingerbread houses from 12:30-2 p.m. and from 3-4:30 p.m. During the evening, the art center plans a Festival of Trees fundraiser. The trees, donated and decorated by local businesses and individuals, will be available to the highest bidders in a silent auction.

The Festival of Lights will start at 5 p.m. downtown, with the parade starting at 6 p.m., Michael said. The list of activities will be much the same as last year’s, she said.

They will include music from Victorian carolers, both outside and inside the Lumberyard Arts Center, and the Baldwin City Children’s Choir near its home at the Baldwin Academy of Dance and Song at Eighth and High streets. Adding to the festive mood will be the new holiday lights the city strung last year and left atop most downtown storefronts.

The recreation commission will offer hot cider and chocolate as well as cookies in the Lotatorium, the empty lot east of the Lumberyard in the 700 block of High Street.

Once he arrives at the Lotatorium, Santa will help light the Community Christmas Tree and visit with children, Michael said. The winner of the recreation commission’s raffle for an iPad will be announced at the tree lighting. Money from the raffle will be donated to the Baldwin City Community Emergency Fund.