By Matt Mattei, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Downtown is ready to ring in the most wonderful time of the year.
A sleigh full of entertainment and activity starts at 11 a.m. Nov. 19 and leads up to the annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony.
The schedule of free events includes “Whoville” activities at Barnes & Noble, the Broken Road Duo at Making a Difference Ministries, a performance by YOUniversal Suzuki String at the F.M. Kirby Center and a Christmas carol sing-along on Public Square prior to the 3 p.m. parade kickoff. The Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place immediately following the parade.
Patty Hughes, special events coordinator for the city, is a life-long resident of Wilkes-Barre, and said the annual parade and tree lighting ceremony is a family tradition.
Hughes said the cultural events are planned to draw people into the downtown area prior to the parade.
“We’re trying to get more people to come out with events like the one at Barnes & Noble, so it’s all a family friendly atmosphere,” Hughes said. “Then there’s the finale. Santa Claus is coming to town.”
Manager of Barnes & Noble Renee Lutz said the bookstore is going with a Grinch-themed story time, which includes face painting, “who-hair” styling and coloring activities.
Lutz said parade day activities attract people to the downtown area, generating interest in local businesses and events.
“The first year I participated, I was astounded at the volume of people who came downtown,” Lutz said. “It’s nice for people to come downtown, because there’s a little trepidation, so there’s a chance for us to show that we’re doing a lot of good work downtown.”
Lutz said the event is her favorite of the year and she enjoys seeing enthusiasm on the faces of people who gather in the holiday spirit.
“It’s a nice, family-oriented time,” she said. “My sister and her family come from Harrisburg to visit with me for the day, watch the parade and participate.”
Road closures for parade day include Northampton Street from South Franklin to South Washington Street, Hazle Street from Pennsylvania Boulevard to Franklin Street, South Street from South Franklin to South Washington Street, Market Street from South Franklin to South Washington Street and North Main Street from Public Square to Union Street.
“No Parking” notices will be posted along the parade route. Vehicles will be ticketed and towed beginning at 1:45 p.m. Parade participants and spectators should use public parking facilities throughout the city. Parking is not allowed in the Volunteers of America lot at Hazle and South Main streets.