65-day ‘Very Merry Middletown’ kicks off holiday season Saturday

Numerous holiday events, including light displays, Santa Parade, ice skating planned in downtown.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

MIDDLETOWN — The city of Middletown will be the site of several diverse events in the coming months with the singular goal of providing inexpensive holiday entertainment options for families.

‘Very Merry Middletown” will start Saturday and go through Jan. 15, 2024. It features ice skating, a drive-through holiday lights display, a Santa Parade, food and music.

The 65-day celebration begins with the Community Building Institute Turkey Trot and the unveiling of the enchanting Holiday Whopla (pronounced WHO-PLAH) ice skating rink, 39 N. Broad St.

City Manager Paul Lolli said the two months of events with attract visitors throughout the region and will “create a joyful, safe and celebratory atmosphere for the holiday season.”

The Holiday Whopla rink offers an array of experiences, including ice skating, immersive light displays, and interactions with holiday characters. The rink will host special events such as skating with Santa, ice skating lessons, and the option to rent a warm and heated igloo, said Avinne Kiser, founder.

Now in its third year, Holiday Whopla has turned into a holiday event that’s “part of the community,” Kiser said.

She said the event “means we have something for the community to look forward to. These kids really need something to do here.”

The ice skating rink is open until Jan. 15.

One of the season’s highlights, Light Up Middletown, begins its 24th season at 6 p.m., Nov. 23 and runs through Jan. 1, 2024. Visitors can drive through 96 acres of a holiday wonderland at Smith Park. Admission is by donation and proceeds are used to purchase light displays and improve the city park.

The Grandpa Gang, an all-volunteer group, operates Light Up Middletown and receives assistance from Cleveland-Cliffs employees, said Bill Becker, one of the organizers. He said there are two new “major displays” this year.

LUM provides “a great amount of anticipation and joy through the holiday,” Becker said. Due to the cost being by donation, Becker said it provides an affordable holiday option for families.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The Santa Parade is returning for its 16th year, said Linda Moorman, organizer. She said the parade will kick off at 4 p.m. Nov. 25 and travel from Curtis Street down Central Avenue to Governor’s Square.

The parade will feature several characters in costumes, floats, dance groups and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Once the parade ends, Santa will light the Christmas tree, Moorman said.

Moorman is hoping the new route down Central Avenue will encourage parade attendees to support local business on Small Business Saturday.

The event also includes carriage rides through historic downtown every Saturday from Thanksgiving to Christmas.


WHAT: “Very Merry Middletown”

WHEN: Saturday through Jan. 15, 2024

WHERE: Downtown Middletown

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: Light Up Middletown, drive-through holiday lights, 6-10 p.m. Nov. 23-Jan. 1, 2024, Smith Park. Donations accepted. Santa Parade, 4 p.m. Nov. 25 from Curtis Street down Central Avenue to Governor’s Square. Holiday Whopla, holiday lights, food, drinks, ice skating, Saturday through Jan. 15, 2024.

ADDITIONAL INFO: holidaywhopla.org or downtownmiddletown.org/very-merry-middletown

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