WAHOO – The Hometown Holidays celebration keeps getting better and better.
This year, the event will include an expanded digital light display and even more opportunities to win prizes from local merchants.
Hometown Holidays is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 4 in downtown Wahoo. The fun starts at 4:30 p.m. and lasts until 7 p.m.
Jen Woita, assistant director for the Wahoo Chamber of Commerce, and Lisa Brichacek, a Chamber board member, have teamed up with a committee to organize the event, which has been a traditional part of the holiday season in Wahoo for many years.
“There has been something holiday or Christmas themed in Wahoo for a long time,” said Brichacek.
While tradition is the basis of the festivities, things have also moved into the present with the advent of an electronic Christmas tree last year.
Woita said it was getting harder and harder to find a live tree in Wahoo that was easily accessible and big enough for the tree lighting ceremony.
“We never really knew what we were getting,” she said.
As an alternative, the Chamber looked into an easier option. Kyle Cooper approached organizers about using an electronic tree last year and it went over well. The tree is located on the west side of the Lindley building at Fifth and Broadway streets in downtown.
From the very beginning, Cooper planned to expand on the electronic tree and this year he is keeping his promise. He has expanded the lights to extend nearly the length of the Lindley building.
The lights will flash, blink and sparkle to the tune of Christmas music during the tree lighting at 6 p.m.
The Snowball Drop is back for the third year. Organizers said it has been a great addition to Hometown Holidays.
“I feel like that created a bigger buzz and excitement,” said Woita.
A member of the Wahoo Fire Department will climb the aerial truck to drop over 300 ping pong balls with numbers on them. The numbers correspond to prizes that can be redeemed at City Hall right after the Snowball Drop. There will be two “drops” – one for adults and one for children.
Visitors to Hometown Holidays can also take part in the Passport program, which has also grown over the past few years, Woita said, by stopping by participating businesses and getting their passport marked. Brichacek said they came up with the Passport program to get more businesses involved.
Other businesses or organizations have joined in for Hometown Holidays. The Eagles Club and First United Methodist Church are both providing food and fellowship opportunities.
The highlight of the evening will be the Lighted Vehicle Parade, which starts at 6 p.m. Woita said the parade route changed last year, and will remain the same this year. The parade will start at the Chamber office and travel down Broadway to the electronic tree for the tree lighting ceremony. The route will turn onto Sixth Street, head to Linden Street back to Fifth Street, then on to Broadway again and down Fourth Street.
To sign up for the parade, contact the Chamber office at 402-443-4001.
Of course, Santa will be present for Hometown Holidays. Children can visit with him after the parade at the Back Room.
Children can also ensure Santa gets their Christmas wish list by writing him a letter at Great Western Bank, beginning at 4:30 p.m. This event has been a popular part of Hometown Holidays for the past few years, Woita said.
Hometown Holidays is presented by the Chamber and the Wahoo Newspaper. The newspaper’s involvement began several years ago when then-editor Brichacek realized the event needed to be revived.
Poor attendance years earlier when the event was on a weekend prompted organizers to move it to a Wednesday night as a way to get local businesses involved, Brichacek said. That’s how the Passport was started.
“You’ve got to have the businesses connected if you want people to come out for this,” she added.
The infusion of businesses into the event also helped recreate the Hometown Holidays brand, Brichacek said.
“Now more businesses can donate and have a presence,” she said.