Holiday season begins with music, lights, words of peace

by BETH ALTENA 

Hundreds of people waited on the banks of the Rogue River to hear the Rockford High School brass ensemble and choir and words of peace from local leaders as the City of Rockford officially began the holiday season the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 17. The City/Chamber of Commerce event began with an introduction by Chamber Executive Director Brenda Davis, who said the event was the sixth annual. It appeared from the number of participants that this may well be the most well-attended lighting ceremony to date.

Girls from the Rockford High School choir sing during the lighting ceremony, Nov. 17.

Outgoing State Representative Tom Pearce spoke about his experiences as a young man on a Souix Indian reservation and then urged the crowd, “If there is someone you are not getting along with, make a truce with them.” He urged the crowd to “make sure this holiday season you are wrapped up in other people, not wrapped up in things that don’t matter.”

Mayor Steve Jazwiec shared his inspiration for the holidays, the true story of WWI foes who, for a few hours on Christmas eve, made a truce themselves and stopped fighting to share a time of peace in honor of the holy day.

Senator Mark Jansen urged people to start at home in bringing peace to the world and complimented the town for being good stewards of the assets Rockford is blessed to enjoy—our students who stood by to sing and play in honor of the holiday, the beautiful downtown and the river and trail which brings so much to the community.

The words of peace were followed by the music of the brass ensemble and choir—hauntingly beautiful and the most moving portion of the ceremony—and the dimming of the lights until the countdown to the town’s holiday lights coming on for the season. The evening ceremony ended with a playful rendition—repeated a few times for fun and to the delight of youngsters and adults—of the “reindeer song” with participation of the crowd encouraged.

After the lighting ceremony, a lively downtown night of shopping was held, with promotions, treats and giveaways in the stores and shops. The downtown Rockford Holiday Open Houses is an annual event that lasts two evenings. However, many holiday specials can be found throughout downtown right on through the season, so be sure to visit Rockford at this special time and experience an old-fashioned holiday the way life should be. Carriage rides, holiday music, holiday decorations and other events will take place throughout the season, including the 67th annual Santa Parade on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 11 a.m., including visits with Santa in the Rotary Pavilion afterward. Children are encouraged to share their wish list with the jolly man and all will receive a goodie bag. Watch for more holiday events taking place this season.

The Bakita family is enjoying the fifth annual lighting ceremony at Peppler Park on the banks of the Rogue River on Wednesday, Nov. 17. They just finished a nice dinner at Sam’s Joint and were visiting Eric Brown Stained Glass before heading down for the ceremony. Pictured is Sue, Abby, 7, Micayla, 17, who sang during the ceremony, and Keary. Sue said she loves shopping during Green Bag Wednesdays in Rockford and most recently purchased a lovely mirror at Right at Home to hang over her fireplace. “I love the promotions in downtown,” she said.

 

Henry, 18 months, and Liam, 3-1/2, visited downtown Rockford from Grand Rapids to enjoy the ceremony with their mom and grandmom. Their mother said she loves the hometown feel of the evening events and looks forward to it.

Senator Mark Jansen was scheduled to speak during the lighting ceremony, but came into town early to do a little shopping. He visited Herman’s Boy to pick up a few gift items and said he also is a frequent visitor to Reds on the River and Arnie’s. Jansen said the beauty of Rockford’s downtown and the business community are good example of what Rockford is doing right. “It doesn’t just happen and not everyone has it,” he said of the annual events, the beauty of downtown and the popular trail. “Very few towns have what Rockford has. Rockford has assets and builds on them. It isn’t easy—it takes a lot of work and vision.”

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