by Tim Hissong
EAST TAWAS – The Grinch and all the Whos from Whoville joined the Tawas Area High School Marching Band, the U.S. Coast Guard Station Tawas, the Tawas Area Veterans Honor Guard and the East Tawas City Council in marching down Newman Street to escort Santa and Mrs. Claus to the 45th annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony Friday evening in East Tawas.
Sponsored by the East Tawas Business Association (ETBA), the event signaled the start of the holiday season in the city.
Temperatures in the mid- to high-30s were below normal, but the gusty winds subsided to allow onlookers to enjoy the parade and tree lighting in relative comfort. JD Hock provided recorded Christmas music for the crowd before and after the parade, and served as master of ceremonies for the tree lighting and Christmas caroling.
Following tradition, the Tawas Area Veterans Honor Guard led the parade, followed by the U. S. Coast Guard Station Tawas and the East Tawas Fire Department, with city officials following on foot. Dean Arbour Chevrolet and Klenow’s Market were next in line, and the TAHS Marching Band set the tone, with Director Brandon Jerashen leading the way. Mooney’s Ben Franklin’s mini-SUV also appeared in the parade.
Dr. Seuss’ characters the Grinch and The Cat in the Hat led all the Whos from Whoville down Newman Street, much to the delight of parade watchers. Representatives of the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce ferried the Perchville polar bear the length of the parade route.
Finally, the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus, along with Mrs. Claus, put the finishing touch on the parade.
For the third year in a row, the tree lighting ceremony and Christmas carol sing along was held at the intersection of Newman and Westover streets. East Tawas Mayor Bruce Bolen and City Manager Brent Barringer counted down and flipped the switch to light the tree, and Diane Knight once again led the crowd in Christmas caroling.
After the caroling, families and children stood in line to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and cookies were served with hot chocolate by Councilwoman Blinda Baker and her team.