The weather outside is frightful, but the Bay City holiday lights are so delightful

When Santa and his reindeer fly over Bay City in a few weeks, they may be surprised to see their twins looking back at them from the roof of the Historical Museum of Bay County.

Downtown Bay City kicked off its annual Sundays in the City celebration earlier this week.For years, the waving Santa and his reindeer sat atop the F.P. Horak building, visible when people came across Veterans Memorial Bridge into the heart of downtown. But when Horak moved its operations to the Valley Center Technology Park in Monitor Township, Santa and his reindeer were left behind.

A street lamp takes on a festive air when wrapped in bright red ribbons and evergreens.Evergreen boughs, ornaments, and lights fill the stores and homes throughout the downtown district.Mike Bacigalupo, director of the Historical Museum and chief operations officer of the State Theatre, and Dave Clements from Clements Electric rescued the lights from the top of the building and saved them from destruction when the building was razed.

Holiday displays light up the windows of the Village Chocolatier, 811 Saginaw St. .Holiday greetings fill the windows at Herter Music Center, 901 Washington Ave.“Dave Clements found out that the two sculptures that were on the F.P. Horak building and the building was going to be demolished, so they got to go up there and get them down,” says Bacigalupo. “They rebuilt them and refurbished them to get them all back up and running.”

Lights and color shine from the display windows at Herman Hiss & Co., 905 Washington Ave. Traditional red, green, and gold ornaments hang above the jewelry in the Herman Hiss display window.Running multiple light displays of this size can add a lot to an electric bill, but according to Bacigalupo, “Dave Clements wired and re-wired everything to make it more energy efficient. He used LED lights, which are very energy efficient and low cost.”

A tall tree filled with multi-color lights stands at the entrance to Wenonah Park.The State Theater, 913 Washington Ave., is showing holiday movies during Sundays in the City, which runs through Dec. 20.Last holiday season was the first time Santa made his return to Bay City on top of the Historical Museum of Bay County at 321 Washington Ave., but something was still missing, says Bacigalupo.

Lights twinkle from the branches of an evergreen tucked into the corner of the window display at Regent Floral.“Last year was the first year they put that up and everybody liked it. As the year went on, Dave and I were talking, and he said he’s got this other one he’s putting up that’s pretty big and round.”

That’s when Clements started refurbishing the Bay City classic “Peace on Earth” sign. Bacigalupo says he wanted this display to be just as accessible to the public, so he suggested placing it inside the newly-constructed bandshell in Wenonah Park.

“We’ve got Santa on the right-hand side. Why don’t we put it in the new bandshell on the left-hand side?”

The sign overlooks other holiday decorations in the park, including a traditional evergreen tree at the main entrance. The annual tree lighting ceremony was a little different this year in an effort to limit crowds, but the new displays in Wenonah Park made it just as magical.

“On the Friday night after Thanksgiving, we lit both the Santa Claus and the Peace on Earth sign along with the Christmas tree and snowflakes,” says Bacigalupo. “So now Wenonah Park has the Christmas tree and all the snowflakes in a circle and then we have the Peace on Earth on the stage and the Santa Claus on the museum.”

With the COVID-19 restrictions in place across the state right now, friends and family are not able to gather and celebrate the holiday season as they usually would, but the displays in Wenonah Park provide a safe and socially-distant activity for families. Downtown Bay City also is offering its traditional Sundays in the City celebration through Dec. 20.

A white Christmas calls for sledding.“People are standing back by the pavilion or they’re sitting on the benches that are installed under the pavilion and they’re looking at the peace on earth,” says Bacigalupo. “Ever since we lit everything, people are getting out and about and taking pictures by them. We may be in quarantine for a while, but these displays will be staying up at least a week or a couple weeks after Christmas.”

Even though this year has been hard on countless families, Bacigalupo, Clements, and the donors who support this effort are committed to keeping the holiday magic alive in Bay City.

“We like to see people smile and we like to bring back good memories. That’s why we do it,” Bacigalupo says.


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