Winterfest is Cleveland’s official kickoff to the holiday season. The city’s largest outdoor winter celebration took place with the lighting of Public Square on Nov. 27.
“There are twinkling lights, horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas carolers and a giant Christmas tree,” said Rick Grospitch, general manager, Cleveland Public Square. The city even brought back a massive fireworks show as part of the family-friendly entertainment after a few years’ hiatus.
The festivities began at noon with the official lighting ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27. Included in the showcase of lights is a 400-square-foot outdoor Nativity scene, located just east of Public Square’s main stage area. The stable and Nativity was assembled the week prior to Winterfest by volunteers from the Knights of Columbus, Cleveland Council No. 733.
Leading the crew is Knight Rich Taylor of Council 733. Together with five other Knights, they loaded the unconstructed set from the former chancery building behind the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist onto a semi-truck that slowly made its way down Superior Avenue to Public Square.
“The Nativity has been passed down and donated by an Altar and Rosary Society from a merged parish. Some would say it is now considered an antique,” Taylor said. “Each year we have some electrical work to do on the pieces to update it so it connects with our hook-up once on Public Square. We take it slow and steady during the set-up process,” he added.
New to Winterfest this year is the Instaspot social media campaign, where visitors to Public Square are encouraged to locate various displays, take their photos there and post the pictures to social media using the hashtag #INTHESQUARE. The Nativity is included in the list of areas to visit and share.
Weekends during through New Year’s Day, a variety of holiday activities are available at Public Square, including an ice skating rink. Musical performances from the Cleveland Opera Theatre, The Cleveland Carolers and various church choirs will take place on the steps of the Soldiers and Sailors monument. The windows of the historic Higbee Building are decorated with festive Christmas scenes and appearances by Frosty, Mr. Jingeling and Mr. and Mrs. Kringle.
Click here for a complete list of schedules, activities and information on skate rental.landpublicsquare.com