Dayton Holiday Festival will return with increased security, earlier start time

2022 event was marred by gunshot that sent parade-goers fleeing

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

The 51st annual Dayton Holiday Festival Grande Illumination and Children’s Parade is returning downtown this November with increased safety protocols following gunfire at the 2022 celebration.

The 2023 festival will light up Courthouse Square on Friday, Nov. 24, according to the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

The 2022 Dayton Holiday Festival Children’s Parade was interrupted when a fight between a group of juveniles led to one male pulling out a gun and firing one shot into the air, according to Dayton police. The sound of gunfire caused the parade crowd to flee from the area, and the parade was subsequently canceled. No one was injured in the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

This year, event organizers said they have worked with the Dayton Police Department at length to come up with a comprehensive analysis of the celebration. Discussions on safety protocols and elements of the event’s programming between local police, event organizers and other community members have continued since the incident.

“Continuing this beloved holiday tradition is important to our community,” Downtown Dayton Partnership President Sandra Gudorf said. “In doing so, the comfort and safety of our guests at the Dayton Holiday Festival remains our highest priority. It is our obligation to carefully examine all aspects of the event to ensure we do all we can to keep this downtown tradition of 50 years a safe and welcoming place for all.”

To prioritize the safety of guests, the Dayton Holiday Festival Grande Illumination and Children’s Parade will begin an hour earlier this year and run from 3-8 p.m. An increased safety presence will be onsite for the parade using supplemental security resources, and on-duty police officers will be positioned around the event to increase the police’s visibility and coverage. Bike patrol officers have also been added to the security personnel of the event.

The DDP said further details about the 2023 Dayton Holiday Festival will be released at a later time. For more information, visit

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