Light Up Night to kick off holiday season

Downtown St. Marys will once again be abuzz the evening of Friday, Nov. 18 during the annual Light Up Night festivities, sponsored by the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce.The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the Diamond with the South St. Marys Street Elementary School Choir performing. The lights are scheduled to be switched on at 7 p.m. in conjunction with the arrival of Santa Claus, who will be arriving via a different method than in past years.Santa will then travel to nearby Northwest Savings Bank, where children may visit with him as well as listen to the sounds of a bell choir as they wait in line. "The theme of this year is the 'Spirit of Giving,' so we will be collecting donations for the local food bank," said Phoebe Bonomo, Chamber community outreach coordinator.Non-perishable food donations are being accepted at Northwest Savings Bank, where donors will receive a small token of appreciation from the Chamber sponsored by Express Lube and Bubble Bath. A myriad of activities are slated throughout downtown during Light Up Night 2011. The Chamber is hosting photos with "Santa Paws" in their parking lot, sponsored by a Relay for Life team, and a basket raffle inside the office, with winners being drawn Nov. 29, as well as a special sale of half-price Chamber Christmas ornaments and an opportunity to take a chance at winning two recliners donated by Suzy's Furniture, with proceeds benefiting the lighting fund. Chamber board members are also selling recliner tickets.The Lions Club will be situated in the Northwest Savings Bank drive-up window area to offer complimentary hot chocolate and coffee from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The organization is also selling their wreaths, at two different price points, and 16-oz. scented candles. Orders will also be taken for the wreaths and candles.PNC Bank employees plan to distribute balloons, stickers and surprises, while introducing their new 'S is for Savings Account' program, a fun, interactive account which helps young children learn about savings, sharing and spending. Along Erie Avenue, AllState Beimel and Gerg are offering face painting and performances by the First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir. Next door, DD's Bakery will be serving hot chocolate and cookies. Down the street, April School of Dance is hosting a special holiday performance from 6-9 p.m. which includes dancers showcased in the studio's large front window. The St. Marys Pharmacy is offering 20 percent off in their Chemist's Curio as part of Light Up Night. The pharmacy, along with EZ Rollings on Erie Avenue and Dino's Place on Market Street, are selling paper lightbulb cutouts throughout the holiday season, with proceeds benefiting the Chamber's light fund.Bonomo said the cost of lighting is $8,000, with the City of St. Marys kicking in half the cost over the past several years. She noted that all donations are greatly appreciated. From 6:30-9 p.m., Straub Brewery is hosting a rummage sale inside the brewery and from 6-8 p.m., the St. Marys Public Library is hosting a story reading.The Sheetz coffee truck will be on display distributing free hot chocolate and coffee. Charitable donations are being accepted, with half of the final amount going to the lighting fund. Throughout the evening, live mannequins will be on display inside the storefront windows of Lesser and Lesser Jewelers, Murones and The Variety Shoppe.Free parking in downtown St. Marys is also in effect for Light Up Night and will continue to be offered from Black Friday to Christmas Eve.In an effort to draw shoppers downtown, the Chamber is giving away $1,000 as part of the Shop St. Marys Giveaway. Shoppers should bring their receipt from any Chamber of Commerce business dated Nov. 18 through Dec. 23 to the Chamber office to be entered into a drawing with prizes, including one $500 Chamber gift certificate and five $100 gift certificates. Receipts should include the shopper's name and phone number.