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  • Michael D. Turashoff

Portland’s Annual Holiday Fest Kicks Off Saturday, December 8th

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, or at least it will be in Portland this weekend! This Saturday, December 8th, Portland’s annual Holiday Fest will kick off the Christmas holiday season in downtown Portland with several holiday activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Portland City Manager, Tutt Gorman stated, “Holiday Fest is a family-friendly event that is true to a traditional Christmas Season and this year will prove to be the best yet. MiPortland Downtown Director, Tina ConnerWellman has joined with volunteers, businesses, and organizations to coordinate a full day and evening offering something special for everyone.”

Downtown Business Window Displays

This year there have been several business windows displaying this year’s theme “Put an Ugly Sweater Party in Your Window.” There 11 entries in this year’s contest with the winners as follows:

3rd Place – Studio 176 located at 176 Kent St.

2nd Place – Escape Rooms Portland, MI located at 100 E Bridge St.

1st Place – The Blue Mason Jar located at 160 Kent St.

Holiday Festivities

The Christmas festivities will kick off at 9 a.m. with “Breakfast with Santa.” Thanks to our friends at the Portland Area Chamber of Commerce, the jolly old elf himself will be at the Portland VFW hall located at 1324 E. Bridge Street, from 9 – 11 a.m. Breakfast service ends at 10:30 a.m. and is free with donations appreciated.

Breakfast with Santa will include visits and pictures with the guest of honor, Santa Clause, as well as fun activities for all the good children of Portland.

Disney Concert Fundraiser

At 2 p.m., there will be a Disney Concert Fundraiser called ‘A Marquee Day for Disney’ presented by the Portland Civic Players and the Portland Playhouse located at 231 Maple St.

All are welcomed to enjoy their favorite Disney songs and Christmas tunes with a free will offering to help raise funds for a new marquis for the Playhouse.

Snowball Drop

At 4 p.m. the Downtown Portland events will start with the Snowball Drop at all the intersections of Bridge and Kent Streets. Approximately 1,000 snowballs (numbered ping-pong balls) will drop from 15 feet in the air.

The numbers on the snowballs (ping-pong balls) correspond with local businesses and restaurants and can be redeemed for prizes and discounts at those businesses through December 12th.

This event is fun for the whole family because you never know what kinds of great gifts you can receive from all of our wonderful local businesses.

Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides

Back again this year is the crowd favorite, the Horse-Drawn Sleigh (Wagon) Rides through our own beautifully decorated Downtown Portland.

Rides are available from 4 – 5:30 p.m. with seating for 10-12 people and is pulled by a team of Percheron draft horses. Donations are appreciated. The staging point is at 205 Kent St., just north of the City Hall parking lot before Bridge St.

Open Houses

Local businesses will be hosting Open Houses throughout Downtown Portland from 4-7 p.m. and will be offering refreshments, music, activities, discounts, and more so make sure you stop in and say hello.

Friends of the Red Mill will once again be hosting their Cookie Decorating, along with children’s crafts and games offered by area organizations and held at various locations throughout the downtown area.

The Portland Scouts will also be offering S’mores at Scout Park for anyone who wants to stop by.

Veteran’s Memorial Bridge Lighting

Shortly after 5 p.m., the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge will be lit with red and green Christmas lights, making for a great backdrop for holiday pictures. Traffic will be closed on the bridge until 6:45 p.m.

Community Caroling

From 5:35 – 5:50 p.m. singers from Mt. Hope Church will lead the community in Christmas caroling at Bridge and Kent Streets. Everyone is welcome to come out and join in a Christmas tradition.

Portland’s Newest Light Display

At 5:55 p.m. guests are asked to gather along Kent St. on the 100 block (between Grand River Ave. & Bridge St.) for Portland’s newest light display presented entirely by the property owners and volunteers as a gift to the community of Portland.

Light Parade

The Light Parade begins at 6 p.m. and will lead by the members of Portland High School’s Marching Band. The event will include Santa and Mrs. Clause in an Amish horse-drawn wagon along with lighted floats and entries by many of our local businesses and organizations.

The parade will begin at Riverside Drive and continue down Kent St. traveling north to turn onto Grand River Ave., crossing the bridge toward Water St.

The Lighting of Portland’s Christmas Tree

Immediately after the parade, the lighting of Portland’s Christmas tree will commence with visits and pictures with Santa & Mrs. Claus at Scout Park.

Round Out the Night at Portland’s Playhouse

After the lighting of the Christmas tree guest are encouraged to head over to the Portland Playhouse for a 7 p.m. for the Christmas Gala Concert presented by the Portland Community Orchestra who will be joined by the Ionia Community Band.

“It’s about taking a step back from the hustle and bustle, getting together with a few of your favorite people for some holiday cheer. It’s about sharing a hot chocolate, smiles and greeting your neighbors. It’s about gathering together and enjoy a friendly small town during a magically bright shiny seasonal event”, said Tina ConnerWellman, Executive Director for MiPortland Downtown.

For a complete schedule of these and many other holiday events, please visit the Portland Downtown website at, where you can find major events and great local businesses year-round.

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