A Holly Jolly Great Lakes Bay Region: 4 celebrations to kick off Christmas

Time with loved ones, the joy of giving: that’s what many people say the Christmas season is about; however, with fast-paced lives, it can be difficult to find the time to get into the holiday spirit.

To help with that, local communities all over the Great Lakes Bay region are hosting free celebrations to give community members the opportunity to slow down, cherish their loved ones, and enjoy the holiday season as it unfolds.

The light parade during the Mt. Pleasant Christmas Celebration illuminates the streets of downtown Mt. Pleasant with holiday-themed floats.

Mt Pleasant Christmas Celebration

For 25 years, the Mt Pleasant Christmas Celebration’s twinkling lights have been bringing the community together to commence the holiday season. The 26th celebration will take place Friday Dec. 6 starting at 7 p.m. and Saturday Dec. 7 starting at 8 a.m. It will include a free candy cane hunt, hot chocolate and coffee, tree lighting, and a live polar express train. The celebration’s crown jewel is its lighted parade which illuminates the streets of downtown Mt Pleasant with holiday-themed floats.

“It’s an opportunity to get out with your neighbors and celebrate the Christmas season together,” says Carol Moody of the Mt Pleasant Parks and Recreation Department. “It’s a good way to kick-off the season and get you in the holiday spirit.”

Children have the opportunity to meet and tell their Christmas wish list to Santa and Mrs. Claus at Christmas in Clare.

Christmas in Clare

Indulge your Christmas sweet tooth with free hot chocolate and Cops and Doughnuts at Clare City’s Christmas in Clare event located in downtown on Sunday Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. With free events like an interactive Christmas movie, reindeer visits, and carriage rides, Christmas in Clare is fun for the whole family.

“It’s a warm, vibrant event that has something for people of all ages,” says Liz Crafton, marketing specialist at the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s just a fun way to celebrate the holiday.”

Other unique features include a flash mob, s’mores station, meet and greet with Elsa from “Frozen”, and a silent auction at the 515 Gallery.

Over 100 vibrant red and green poinsettia plants combine to create a 16-foot Christmas tree located in the Dow Garden's conservatory.

Dow Gardens Christmas Walk

Each December, flickering candles line the winding paths of Midland’s Dow Gardens for the annual Dow Gardens Christmas Walk. Reindeer, carolers, and the garden’s 16-foot poinsettia Christmas tree greet guests for a peaceful evening with loved ones. The free event is offered Dec. 12-14 and Dec. 19-21 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“It’s not focused on material items, it’s focused on spending time together with a sense of community and a sense of family,” says the Dow Garden’s Assistant Director of Guest Operations, Carolynn Paten. “It encourages people to talk and create memories around the holiday season.”

Each year, a large, lighted Christmas tree is placed in Bay City's Wenonah Park, marking the start of the holiday season.

Sundays in the City

Bundle up and tour downtown Bay City from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage during Sundays in the City. On Sunday Dec. 1, 8, 12 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can enjoy free carriage rides and gift wrapping, or view the giant Christmas tree in Wenonah Park. Warm up at any of the 30 plus local businesses that participate in the event or relax with a holiday movie at the State Theater, free with a nonperishable food item or donation.

“It’s our most popular and longest event,” says Suzanne Maxwell, executive director of the Bay City Downtown Management Board/Downtown Development Authority. “For a lot of families it’s a tradition, and we try to have something for everyone.”

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