Grand Rapids lights up downtown for holiday season

Grand Rapids
Crowds gather around the 38-foot Christmas tree in downtown Grand Rapids for the ceremonial lighting. (Dec. 1, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids ushered in the holiday season Friday night by lighting the 38-foot Christmas tree standing in Rosa Parks Circle.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss also flipped the switch to lights lining the streets as part of the second annual Light Up Downtown event, organized by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

“We have 45,000 lights on this tree alone. That does not include the thousands of lights that are turning on throughout downtown,” Jennie Schumacher with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. said ahead of the lighting ceremony.

From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., visitors could go downtown to snap photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a Rudolph ice sculpture, warm up with hot chocolate, listen to carolers, watch ice carving and lace up their skates for the opening of the Rosa Parks Circle ice rink. Western Michigan University’s Synchronized Skating Team performed before the ice opened for free kids skating lessons.

Food trucks were also be stationed along the streets to take orders as WYCE’s Quinn Mathews and Gabriela de la Vega handle music.

Visitors to Light Up Downtown could also kick off the season of giving by dropping off an unwrapped toy or financial donation to The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Toy Drive and Red Kettle campaign.

The Griffins will also be holding their Red Kettle game Friday night in support of The Salvation Army.