As the temperature drops, there's no better time to get into the holiday spirit and downtown Ashland s a great place to start.
An informal kickoff to the holiday season, Saturday, Dec. 2 is packed with events from the longtime annual Ashland Christmas Parade to the Holiday Shop Hop.
"We're trying to make downtown the destination for the whole weekend," said Sandra Tunnell, Ashland Main Street executive director.
With the theme "Miracle on Main Street," the parade draws the focus to downtown Ashland for the weekend with its numerous floats and holiday activities.
Starting at Broad Street and continuing through Union Street, the parade is 6 to 7 p.m. with a lineup of about 60 floats.
Floats will be judged based on creativity, theme-related and overall appearance with first, second and third places for commercial and non-commercial categories. This year's judges are Mayor Duane Fishpaw, Ashland University president Carlos Campo and Scott Jerousek, the new owner of Farm and Home Hardware.
Jane Roland will lead the way as grand marshal, riding Cloyd McNaull's restored Army jeep. Ashland High School pep band will be there along with the Sweeties, Ashland University cheerleaders, the Ashland Fire Department and Ashland Police Division. Ohio Department of Transportation will bring four snowplows with blades painted by Mapleton High School art students and the Ashland Worship Center will have a float celebrating Shop With a Cop. Ashland Local 1386 will have a Red Helmet Christmas Charities float with donation boxes downtown during the parade for people who would like to drop off new toys. Farm and Home Hardware will be bringing Santa, who will be in the store following the parade for photos.
In conjunction with the parade the Holiday Shop Hop is Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this year. There will also be shuttles to Mitchell's Orchard for their Holiday Sip and Shop and to the Tin Can Chandelier's Kris Kringle Winter Fest.
Shop Hop will begin at Enjoy! Gourmet Gifts and Specialties at 145 W. Main St. or Annette's Victorian Garden at 220 Center St. to pick up a punch card. If you visit all the 20 to 30 participating businesses on the list, you can return it for a prize.
Tunnell enjoys this time of year seeing everyone together downtown.
"It looks like a scene out of a movie because the downtown is full of people," Tunnell said. "Hopefully, there will be snow and everybody is so excited to see the float and bringing Santa downtown. I really feel it kicks off the Christmas season."
The parade organized by Ashland Main Street and Ashland Evenings Lions Club.
Kristi Schweitzer can be reached at 419-281-0581, ext. 237, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @krschweitzer.