Santa Claus will barely have time to stash his Thanksgiving leftovers before lacing on running shoes and heading to Maumee tomorrow for the city's largest holiday celebration in years.
Santa's belly will be jiggling at record speeds as he runs around uptown Maumee in the Holiday Hustle, a 5K race beginning at 5:30 p.m. After the race, Maumee's first Holiday Parade of Lights will feature more than 40 illuminated floats. The festivities wrap up at the Maumee Indoor Theatre, where Santa will greet visitors and hand out gifts to children.
"We have a lot of excited citizens," said Charles Carr, Jr., co-chairman of the parade. "It's going to be a big deal. I can see everybody from toddlers up to senior citizens enjoying the parade."
Anyone worried about picking up a few extra pounds from their Thanksgiving feast can register for the 5K race, which has a $13 entry fee. Registration starts at 4:30 p.m. in the Maumee Indoor Theatre. Participants receive a T-shirt, glowing necklace, and jingle-bell bracelet to wear during the race. More than 125 people have already signed up.
Runners will have a jolly incentive to push toward the finish. John Jezak, city administrator, will be running in the back of the pack in a Santa suit. Anyone who beats Mr. Jezak will receive a free ticket to a show at the Maumee Indoor Theater.
Mr. Jezak, who has run in several marathons in the United States and Europe, said he has been training for tomorrow's run and expects to finish the 3.1-mile course in about 25 minutes.
"I really want to be competitive. Regardless of having a Santa suit on, I should do respectably," Mr. Jezak said. "It's something for the adults and kids to chuckle at as they see Santa running madly down the street."
The Parade of Lights also will have a competitive edge thrown into the holiday spirit. A panel of judges will award plaques to the three most creative parade floats. Families, businesses, and social groups from the Toledo area, including Whitehouse, Bowling Green, and Temperance, have entered floats in the parade.
All the lights in uptown Maumee will be shut off to showcase the twinkling floats, which will travel with their lighted displays along Conant Street from Broadway Street to William Street.
In addition to the parade floats, visitors to uptown Maumee can check out decorations in the windows of many stores. The city's Uptown Business Association is holding its own contest to encourage businesses to dress up their windows, city officials said.
When the parade is finished, the real Santa - not Mr. Jezak - will turn on the uptown Maumee lights and meet children in the Maumee Indoor Theatre. He will pass out cookies donated by St. Luke's Hospital to the first few hundred children to visit.
City officials are organizing the three-part holiday event. Kirk Kern, Maumee's commissioner of community development, said it will cost the city less than $1,500 in materials and overtime pay.
This is the first time in many years that Maumee will host a holiday parade. For the past few years, there has been a small event with an appearance by Santa in uptown Maumee, but this year's crowds should be much larger, officials predicted.
Many municipalities in the region hold holiday parades between Thanksgiving and Christmas, including several towns in Fulton County. Toledo's annual parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Summit Street. In Archbold, the local chamber of commerce will hold its Parade of Lights tomorrow in downtown.
During Maumee's parade, the city will close Conant from the Anthony Wayne Trail to the Fort Meigs Memorial Bridge. The road closure will last from about 5:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Mr. Kern said parking in uptown Maumee will be limited and recommended that people park on streets east of Conant. He said he hopes several thousand attend the celebration.
"I'm not really sure what to expect," he said. "But I know we should be in the holiday spirit, by golly."
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