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July 7, 2020

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Bluffton launches the holidays with Saturday's Blaze of Lights

5 p.m. parade • 6 p.m. entertainment • 7 p.m. lighting ceremony • Santa visit

FROM BLUFFTON ICON - Saturday's Blaze of Lights Festival draws families and friends off the couch and away from screens large and small  to enjoy a festive day in downtown Bluffton.

The 33rd annual celebration is expected to draw several thousand people to the village, according to Paula Scott, CEO of the Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Bluffton’s shops, restaurants and festival vendors are ready to keep visitors busy, warm, and well-fed.

On Nov. 30 is also Shop Small Saturday and many retailers will have specials as well as extended hours. Twelve shops will host a Shopping Passport promotion that will award a prize of $250 Bluffton Bucks, checks that can be spent at Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce member businesses.

5 p.m. parade
The Blaze of Lights parade begins at 5 p.m., with entries assembling at 4 p.m. at Snider and Main. The 100+ unit parade will proceed down Main St. from Snider Rd. to College Ave. The parade marshall is John Murray, who will ride with other honorees in vintage cars provided by Brad Cox. Town Crier Kevin Gratz will announce the parade with parade coordinator Junior Weihrach.

Live entertainment starts at 6 p.m. at the corner of Main and Cherry Streets. Performers include folk-rock band Love of a Compass with Karis Badertscher, the Bluffton High School Show Choir led by Kara Zink, vocalist Stephanie Larcom and friends from Pandora Missionary Church, and the Bluffton University Concert Band low brass, coordinated by associate professor Roy Couch.

7 p.m. lighting ceremony
he lighting ceremony begins at 7 p.m., when Kevin Gratz will tell the Christmas story and lead caroling.

Switch hitter Josh Kauffman, the new Bluffton Middle School principal, will turn the lights on illuminating the Ream Folk Art Display. This collection of painted wood cutouts was started in the 1930s by Harry and Dorothy Ream.

Additional artists including Terry Mullenhour have added dozens more. Recently thousands of lights have been added to the towering evergreens on the lawn of Bluffton Presbyterian Church at 122 N. Main. The decorations will be illuminated through January 1.

Santa Claus at Senior Center
Family activities are scheduled following the parade and entertainment. After opening the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit with children at the Bluffton Senior Center--beginning at about 5:30 p.m.

Romick Railway’s trackless train will offer $2 rides from 6:30-9 p.m. near the Senior Center. Tickets for horse and wagon rides by Town & Country Carriages will be sold next to the Shannon Theatre beginning at 4:30 p.m.. Rides are $4 for adults and $2 for children under 13. Riders will be taken in order of their tickets from 6:30-9 p.m.

Coordinated by the Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Bluffton, the 2019 Blaze of Lights Festival is funded by 19 local businesses.

Major sponsors are Bluffton University, Citizens National Bank, Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn Co., Smith’s Realty Professionals, and Spectrum Salon.

For more information about the Blaze of Lights, contact the Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce at blufftonchamber@gmail.com or (419) 369-2985.