Downtown lighting ceremony joins history with community
Dianne Meredith and her husband, David, huddled among family Friday night as the warm glow of lights reflected off their rosy red faces.
The Merediths have had a long-standing presence at the annual lighting ceremony at Washington Park. The couple, along with their children and grandchildren, have appeared at the ceremony for more than 30 years.
"We love it," Dianne Meredith said. "This is our hometown. It's just a family tradition."
The lighting ceremony, along with its visit from Santa Claus, has been going on for more than 50 years, said Susan Sartor of the Sandusky Community Celebrations Council, which hosts the ceremony.
Sartor said the event is a nice transition from Thanksgiving Day to the Christmas holiday.
"Christmas kind of pumps you up a bit," she said. "It gets you ready for the new year and new things."
Despite the cold, a full moon and scattered leaves added to the ceremony.
"It's a beautiful night," Sartor said. "Even if it's icy cold, people still show up."
And a crowd did indeed show up.
Sartor said about 5,000 people come to the ceremony every year.
Ex-officio Mayor Dan Kaman said the ceremony was not just about Christmas, but a celebration of all holidays.
"I am proud of the commitment of residents to make this their place of choice," Kaman said. "Here in Sandusky you're welcome to celebrate the season in your own special way."
Fran Bias braved the cold weather as her granddaughter Sara Bias, 3, bounced up and down in eager anticipation. Bias said Sara was awaiting Santa Claus, who soon showed up atop a Sandusky fire truck.
"Let's go follow him," Sara said. "I don't sit on his lap, but he still brings me gifts."
The annual tree lighting ceremony has been sponsored in part by Key Bank for the last 20 years, Sartor said.