Friday’s Fantasy of Lights kicking off the holiday season in Howell

Ready to warm-up to the holiday season? Residents and visitors can join in the festivities on Friday, Nov. 23, in downtown Howell at the Fantasy of Lights. This year’s parade theme is “Wishing You Heartwarming Holidays.”

Marking the traditional arrival of the holidays in Howell for 35 years, the spectacular nighttime parade attracts more than 25,000 spectators. Additional activities include entertainment, the Fantasy 5K run, Christmas Alley, live reindeer and visits with Santa.

“The Fantasy of Lights is a wonderful holiday tradition for many families,” said Michelle Tokan, Fantasy of Lights director. “We invite everyone to join us in downtown Howell as we start the celebration.”

The fantasy fun begins at 3:45 p.m. followed by the Fantasy 5K Run at 6 p.m. and the parade at 7 p.m.

Holiday favorites like marching bands and Santa’s sleigh from the Howell Area Fire Department complete the parade line-up.

“Each year the parade entries delight and surprise our guests,” said Tokan. “Look for traditional Christmas decorations as well as sports entries, big displays, decorated Jeeps and even a Grinch or two.”

The Fantasy of Lights is hosted by the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Major sponsor is Cobb-Hall Insurance. Supporting sponsors are DTE Energy Foundation and Citizens Insurance.

Santa Claus and his live reindeer want to visit with you

Families will be able to share their wishes with Santa in Christmas Alley, located on State Street. He will greet children starting at 4 p.m. At the end of the parade, Santa will light the city’s Christmas tree together with the Grand Marshal. Santa and his reindeer are sponsored by Auto-Lab.

New this year is a partnership with The Alley District in downtown Howell. Santa will magically light the creative, decorated trees in the alley around 3:45 p.m. Look for his elves to direct you to the fun.

Add the Fantasy 5K to your holiday fitness program

Run or cheer on the runners in the Fantasy 5K Run, a nighttime race down Grand River Avenue. The run starts at 6 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.

“Runners are cheered on by thousands who line the parade route. We encourage them to dress up in festive attire,” said Tokan.

Pre-register for the run at howellfantasy5K.com. Cost is $30 before 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19, and late registration is $35. Registration includes a Fantasy 5K T-shirt designed by Howell High School Sophomore Meredith Frank and lighted leis to wear during the 5K. Awards will also be given to top finishers.

Onsite registration and packet pick up begins at noon on Friday, Nov. 23 at the church located at 323 W. Grand River in Howell.

The Fantasy 5K is a certified course endorsed by the Michigan Fitness Foundation. The course is also certified as a 5K run by USA Track & Field.

St. Joseph Mercy Livingston is the platinum sponsor of the Fantasy 5K. Gold sponsors are Hartland Insurance Agency and The Willows at Howell. Silver sponsors are Meijer, Pepsi and Chemung Hills Golf Club. Bronze sponsors are Beauchamp Water Treatment & Supply, Two Men and a Truck, Apex Physical Therapy, Century 21, Thai Summit and Howell Powersports. Refreshment sponsor is Planet Fitness, and Livingston Antique Outlet is the Photo Finish Sponsor.

Parade Grand Marshal Howell Main Street Inc. helps make city “great”

After receiving the Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) earlier this year, the parade Grand Marshal is Howell Main Street Inc.

Riding in the parade will be Cathleen Edgerly, Howell Main Street C.O.O. and DDA Director as well as Kate Litwin, Howell Main Street Inc.’s Outreach Coordinator. The Grand Marshal is selected based on contributions to the city.

“Since the Fantasy of Lights is a downtown event, it is only fitting to recognize the Great American Main Street Award in the parade,” said Tokan. “We know Howell is ‘great’ and want to share that with our guests.”

In a city where every day is an event, Howell Main Street Inc. manages Rock the Block, Food Truck Rallies and the Howell Art Project.

Beautiful storefronts and holiday happenings in town                                              

Visitors to Howell will enjoy other downtown holiday attractions during Fantasy weekend and the upcoming holiday season.

The fifth annual Howell Main Street ‘Deck the Windows’ holiday storefront decorating contest showcases decorated windows, shops, restaurants and businesses in the city. The theme is ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ The promotion fosters a positive community spirit while kicking off the holiday season and is sponsored by downtown businessman Mike Hall. Guests can vote on their favorite window display via text-to-vote code found in each window or at downtownhowell.org.

The Livingston Arts Council will open The Opera House for tours and host a Fantasy of Art from 3 to 10 p.m. The event features handmade paintings, jewelry, pottery, holiday cards and more available for sale Friday, and throughout the weekend. The Opera House is located at the corner of Walnut and Grand River.

Howell Area Parks & Recreation hosts Holiday in the Park with 12 different classic holiday movie scenes as well as Christmas trees decorated by local families. The Grand Opening is 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the Howell City Park.

For more information on the Fantasy of Lights, contact the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce at 517.546.3920 or visit howell.org.