Light the holidays

Published 5:59 pm Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Luminary Festival in St. Joseph is from dusk until 9 p.m. Nov. 18. More than 800 luminaries light downtown. Photo by Pat Moody

Off the Water

The holidays are just around the corner. Winter brings holiday light displays as well as tons of fun festivities.

St. Joseph
• The Luminary Festival will be from dusk until 9 p.m. Nov. 18. Walk up and down the streets of St. Joseph while more than 800 luminaries guide you on your stroll. Downtown shops will be open late to offer treats and gift ideas. The stores will transform their windows into festive displays. To vote for your favorite holiday window, stop  at the St. Joseph Today Welcome Center at 421 State St. There will also be free horse-drawn trolley rides, weather permitting, from 5 to 8 p.m., sponsored by the Frederick S. Upton Foundation. The Luminary Festival is sponsored by the Bistro on the Boulevard. Stop by the Bistro for a free dessert with any entree purchase.
• Light up the Bluff, featuring holiday decorations and lit trees in Lake Bluff Park, will be on display from late November until mid-February.

Niles’ Downtown Holiday Homecoming will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 20 with the lighting of the tree, carriage rides, entertainment and shopping.

Dowagiac will host the 100-unit Candelight Christmas Parade Dec. 2. Visit

Michigan City
The Festival of Holiday Lights will be Dec. 3 at Washington Park.
The Festival of Lights Parade will be from 3:30 to 4 p.m. Bundle up and pick the perfect spot along Parker Parkway to watch parade participants bustle along their merry way. Santa kicks off the parade in the main parking lot promptly at 3:30 and leads parade marchers, floats and some very special VIPs past the Senior Center and into Fedders Alley.
Interested in participating in the parade? Parade applications are available online at or call the Michigan City Senior Center at (219) 873-1504 for a parade application.
There will be horse and wagon rides in the park from 4 to 6 p.m. Want to take in all of the beautiful holiday lights old-fashioned-style? Just in front of the Senior Center, hop on the horse-drawn wagon and take a brisk ride throughout the park. There is no fee but make a monetary or nonperishable food donation on behalf of The Salvation Army.
The Non-Profit Organizations & City Department Challenge Chili Cook-Off is 4 to 6 p.m. or while supplies last. Bring the family to the Senior Center to sample a variety of tasty chilis, which are donated and prepared by local nonprofit organizations as well as members of city departments. For $5, sample each delicious entry. Chilis range from “pleasantly mild” to “call the fire department hot.” Once you’ve tasted them all, vote for your favorite. This is your chance to decide who takes home the coveted traveling trophy. There will also be other refreshments, including hotdogs, pop and water available from Michiana Resources, a private non-profit adult rehabilitation agency dedicated to providing vocational and developmental support as well as advocacy services for people with disabilities.
Complimentary hot chocolate and cookies will be available from 4 to 6 p.m., or while supplies last.
Pictures with Santa will be available from 4 to 6 p.m. Just inside the Senior Center, Santa will be available for photos for a fee.
The Official Lighting of the Festival of Holiday Lights will be at 4:30 p.m. Count down with Santa as all of the holiday light displays in Washington Park are turned on at once. Nearly 30 acres of decorations, 40 displays, 2 miles of extension cords and millions of bulbs are on display. Lights are on every evening from Dec. 3 through early January.  Park entrance is free during this time; however, donations are welcome.
Contact the Michigan City Senior Center at (219) 873-1504 to find out how to volunteer.
Donations can be mailed to:
M.C. Senior Center
2 on the Lake
Michigan City, IN  46360

South Bend

• The annual Christmas Tree Lighting will take place in downtown South Bend on Dec. 2 in front of Morris Performing Arts Center.
• Santa’s House and Workshop will be at the College Football Hall of Fame beginning Dec. 3 and continuing every weekend in December. Events include Santa’s North Pole Hotline, a visit with Santa at Santa’s House, free trolley rides, a free candy bar at South Bend Chocolate Cafe and Santa’s Workshop. The Workshop features a gingerbread house display and contest, cookie decorating, coloring, holiday music, movies and popcorn, merchant and museum coupons and more.

Winding Brook will host a light display throughout the entire neighborhood during the holiday season.
For more than 40 years, the residents of Winding Brook Park have decorated the exteriors their homes for Christmas. The lighting and displays are impressive. The entire park is encouraged to participate and it is nearly that complete. Decorations begin for some as early as a few days after Thanksgiving. Many will have it completed by the first week in December. The intention is to have the home displays ready by Dec. 11. They have a designated route for traffic to follow and we also provide security to guide the traffic on each night Dec. 11-26. During that period, at the exit of the route, they have a small “Ginger Bread House,” where volunteers staff the exit to collect donations from the cars as they exit. They have various charities take the responsibility for the donation process each night with the proceeds going toward their various missions, hence the name “Gift to the Community.”
Additionally, the park residents purchase candles and paper bags (sand provided by the Park) for placing Christmas Eve luminaries along the sides of each street in the park. The luminaries are lit at dusk on Christmas Eve and the candles usually last all night. It is an impressive sight and traffic on that evening is particularly heavy for the added effect of the luminaries and the decorated home.

Tickets for Goshen College’s eighth annual Christmas musical celebration, “A Festival of Carols,” are now on sale. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 and at 4 p.m. Dec. 4.
This celebration of the holiday season will feature student ensembles, along with audience participation on traditional carols, all in a concert hall festively decorated with garlands, lights and trees.
Reserved seating tickets are $14 and are available through the Welcome Center by calling (574) 535-7566, emailing or visiting Patrons are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.


Shipshewana ushers in the Christmas season with a light parade at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.
Shipshewana is mostly known for its summer Quilt Festival, the Midwest’s largest flea market, Fall Crafters Fair and the many Amish families who surround the countryside.
This small, simple town can be experienced in an entirely different light when the merchants and residents usher in the holiday season with a light parade.
Now in its fifth year, the parade has quickly grown into a favorite local event, hosting more than 4,000 guests in a town with a population of only 500. Merchants and residents alike decorate floats, cars and bikes with lights of the Christmas season, and then stroll through the downtown streets along the backdrop of music, decorated storefronts and the arrival of Santa Claus. The parade ends in the front of Blue Gate Restaurant, with the lighting of the town Christmas tree and the crowd joining together in the singing of Christmas carols.
Festivities take place throughout the four-block town square with refreshments, music, demonstrations, store specials and much more.
The season continues to shine with other sights, sounds and flavors, with events offered throughout the month of November and December:
Nov. 19: Chocolate Day
Nov. 29: ‘Wana Night Out
Nov. 21-Jan. 2: Gingerbread Houses on display at Yoder’s Shopping Center
Dec. 5-30: Christmas Tree Walk at the Shipshewana Town Center
Dec. 9-10: Kids’ Day at Davis Mercantile
Dec. 10: Santa Comes to the Town Center, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dec. 28-30: Shipshewana Ice Festival featuring Ice Carving Competition
For more information on this and other events, contact:
(800) 254-8090