New Castle's annual Hometown Holidays parade and light-up night are moving to Saturday this year.
Those and other events will kick off the Christmas and holiday season on Nov. 23. That day also will mark the opening of the outdoor ice skating rink, which will be open from 1 to 9 p.m. downtown.
The parade will commence at 3 p.m., which will be followed by a pop-up family festival from 4 to 6 p.m. The annual Light Up Night and tree lighting will be held at 6 p.m., or dusk, and will feature a fireworks display from Pyrotechnico.
Angie Urban, executive director of New Visions, is urging anyone who wants to participate in this year's parade to register early by filling out a parade registration form, either online at www.newvisionslc.org, or by calling Erin Orrico at the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce at (724) 658-1488. The forms are due by Nov. 8.
"When New Visions took over the holiday events two years ago, we started talking to downtown business owners who said a Thursday night parade wasn't helpful to them," Urban said.
The reasons were because people were rushing into town after work and rushing out because of school night, she said.
"Directors of the high school marching bands indicated that a Saturday was better for the events, because on Thursdays, children were up pretty late after the parade," Urban said. "They're excited about this shift. If it works out, we'd like to keep it on a Saturday.
"We looked at the idea of expanding activities and making it a whole holiday experience. The time on a Thursday night didn't allow for a lot of expansion," she continued, adding, that the opening of the ice rink and other activities will give people time to wander around through town in a leisurely atmosphere.
The decision for the change was made after New Visions consulted with the downtown businesses, high school marching band directors and Starbound Entertainment, the company who provides the giant balloons. Urban proposed it to New Visions' 16-member board, which gave its stamp of approval.
During the event, food trucks will be stationed near the ice rink on Mill Street from noon to 9 p.m.
The New Castle Public Library is hosting a parade candy bag decorating activity at 2 p.m., and plans are being made for an outdoor holiday Maker’s Market in Riverwalk Park. A variety of entertainment will be making things merry on the downtown streets.
“We are thrilled to be shaping a holiday experience in downtown New Castle that will be full of memory making opportunities," Urban said. "We anticipate that the shift to a Saturday will allow families to spend some relaxed time in town and soak in the start of the season.”
Urban, along with dozens of community volunteers and partners, are coordinating not only the kickoff, but a host of activities throughout the holiday season coined "Hometown Holly Days."
The ice rink will be open again this year from 4 to 9 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays and from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 23 through Dec. 29.
“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive for last year’s rink, however, we heard the desires to have it open for a longer season,” said Josh Lamancusa, Lawrence County District Attorney, and one of the lead partners in making the rink a reality.
In just year three of their holiday efforts, New Visions has slowly introduced enhancements to some favorite community traditions that they hope will create new memories for many generations, Urban said.
“We polled participants, spectators and businesses to see what we could do to make it bigger and better. Moving the date and time of the parade to a Saturday afternoon posed some challenges, but was much more conducive to attracting school bands and food trucks, developing holiday markets and children’s activities, and incorporating the ice rink, floats and other activities.”
An abundance of "Hometown Holly Days" activities planned for throughout December are being hosted by community partners. They include holiday holiday movies at the historic Cascade Warner Theatre Museum, children’s activities at the New Castle Public Library, caroling at The Confluence, crafting at the Status Party Room and Two Rivers Artisan Coffee Works, and horse-drawn wagon rides.
For a full list of seasonal activities, please visit the Facebook page: ‘Hometown Holly Days.’