Lighting ceremony officially begins holiday season in Rockford

New gingerbread house contest to be voted on by the public

By BETH ALTENA

As the lights go on—in a moment from darkness to dazzle, residents watch as the holiday lights first brighten for the 2012 Christmas season.

 

Rockford Mayor Brien Dews spoke on Tuesday, November 13, reminding residents of his town to keep peace in their hearts during the holidays and throughout the year. The sixteenth annual Lighting Ceremony was held on the banks of the Rogue River. Hundreds of town residents packed Peppler Park and the area of the dam to hear the voices of the Rockford High School choir sing traditional and fun holiday songs.

The annual event, held by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and the City of Rockford, officially kicks off the holiday season for the town and is punctuated by a rousing countdown before hundreds of thousands of holiday lights are powered on for the first time in 2012. The beautiful display throughout the business district is the beginning of a series of holiday events, some traditional, some new.

For the first time this year, the public will decide a people’s choice of gingerbread houses decorated by students at each of the district’s elementary schools and the Rockford Preschool students. Vote will be by donation to a worthy cause of each school’s choice.

The reindeer song garners laughs as the audience and the Rockford High School Choir try to keep up with the hand gestures to accompany the music.

Barb Stein, of Great Northern Trading Company, is one of the great minds behind the new event. She said the Gingerbread House contest will be a fundraiser as well as a chance for families to admire the hard work of some of our younger students. Venues for each of the eight gingerbread houses was announced at the Lighting Ceremony by Gene Parker.

The last song, under the beautiful sparkles of the Christmas lights, Silent Night stirs emotions and appreciation of this very special time of year.

An effort by the Rockford Chamber, specifically the downtown HEART organization, the contest emphasizes that Rockford is a community with HEART. “This will be really fun and exciting,” Stein said. She said parents will visit businesses to see their child’s work, and shoppers are also encouraged to vote, knowing the donations are all going to a worthy cause.

The following schools will display their finished work at the following stores, which were chosen at random from those who asked to participate: Rockford Preschool will be at Grand Cakes; Cannonsburg Elementary will be at the Corner Bar; find Crestwood Elementary’s house at Rudy Kazoody’s; Lakes Elementary will be on display at Rockford Community Federal Credit Union; Meadow Ridge Elementary will be at Independent Bank; Parkside Elementary will be at A Charmed Life; Roguewood Elementary will display at WAR Chest Boutique and Valley View Elementary will be displayed at J T Stitchery.

“There really is no downside to this,” said Stein. The Gingerbread houses are currently under construction, and the kids are encouraged to exercise creativity. The houses will go on display December 1 and will stay up through December 16, at which time voting will be completed. All involved are welcome to the December 19th Gingerbread House contest wrap-up in the Rotary pavilion with Santa and live reindeer present at 7:00 p.m.

 

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