Winter Wonderland, Boat Parade on tap Saturday

As the community rolls into the jolly season, several holiday events are planned, all with festive lights and visits from Santa Claus.

Three locals’ favorites — Winter Wonderland, the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Boat Parade – promise to delight hundreds of cheerful souls.

Whimsical holiday figures will be lit at Winter Wonderland in City Park on Saturday, the same evening as the annual Boat Parade. Salisbury’s tall, decorated tree will be lit on Friday, Dec. 2.

Winter Wonderland begins at 5 p.m.

Around 7 p.m., decorated boats, all merry and bright, will arrive downtown, near Brew River.

The tree will be lit around 6:15 p.m., at a ceremony planned for 5 to 8 p.m. near the Government Office Building.

Winter Wonderland, near the bandstand at City Park, will be in an atmosphere of music, entertainment, friendship and giving. Nonperishable items will be collected for the Maryland Food Bank.

“Mayor Jake Day will speak. Randy Scott from Froggy 99 radio station will be our emcee and Feet of Fire Dance Academy will be performing,” Jen Shipe, chairwoman, said.

Wicomico Middle Steppers will entertain, as well as Allen Memorial Children’s Choir and the gospel group Beauty for Ashes.

Those attending can take cameras and snap photos with Santa, at no charge.

Shipe said due to many of the lighted figures needing repairs and new bulbs, only one-third, or about 20 of them, will be on display. They include Wicomico Woody, Sammy Seagull, a peacock, horse and flag.

“The other ones are sitting in storage. We need money for them to be refurbished and rewired and to buy new bulbs,” she said.

“I remember the lights in the park as a kid, and keeping that tradition alive for my kids and the city of Salisbury is important to me. I hope through the help of community businesses and members we’ll be able to get all the lights I remember as a kid back out in the park next year,” she said.

“This is a great way to get the Christmas season started. We’ll have a food truck there from Big Al’s Grill & BBQ. There will be hot chocolate, hamburgers and hot dogs. Rommel’s Ace Home Center will send a designer to decorate the bridge with lights and garland,” she said.

Winter Wonderland has a long tradition in Salisbury, although it went dark one year about a decade ago, before former chairwoman Kim Hudson reorganized it.

“When I heard Kim was looking to turn the light ceremony over to someone else, I saw it as a great opportunity for my foundation, Wyatt’s Warriors, to give back to the community that has shown us tremendous support,” Shipe said.

Named for her infant, Wyatt, who died last year, the organization is run by those who make care packages for couples, like Shipe and her husband, who had to travel to a hospital out of town with their sick baby.

Donations for Winter Wonderland can be sent to Wyatt’s Warrior’s, 30422 Bottom Creek Drive, Salisbury, Md. 21804. Donors should specify the money is for the light display.

This year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony will be outside the Government Office Building, instead of on the Downtown Plaza, because of improvements being made there.

“Because of the Plaza redesign, if we had the ceremony on the Plaza, the tree would protrude into the street,” said Scott Malone, of Farmers Insurance, the sponsoring company.

As they did last year The Home Malones will sing. Vittles food truck will be there, and Main Roots Coffee will sell hot chocolate, cookies and coffee.

Santa will arrive by fire truck.

Tree lights will be turned on at 6:15 p.m. Olaf from the movie “Frozen” will be there and anyone who wants to take pictures with Santa is welcome, at no charge.

“With all these events, we are bringing Christmas back to the Downtown Plaza, to have that small-town, downtown Christmas feel,” Malone said.

“It’s very nostalgic for me. My dad used to run it. I remember his bank was on the Plaza. He used to go with my two brothers and my mom and me. We would go hang out in his office in the afternoon and then we would all go outside to watch the tree lighting. They had food and hot chocolate.

“We created family memories and now I want that for my boys,” he said about 2-year-old Marshall and 6-month-old Callan.

“I want to recreate that type of event for my family. And we’ve been able to do that,” he said.

Boats parading on the river will launch from the Wicomico Yacht Club and arrive downtown around 7, said organizer Scott McCurdy.

For the sixth year, boaters partnered with Toys for Tots, he said, explaining members started collecting toys a few weeks ago.

“Last year we collected 26 cartons of toys. We’re hoping to do that well again. We’re well on our way. We were more than halfway there early last week. A lot of people order gifts and are waiting for them to come in,” he said.

Two or three boats will deliver the toys to the Salisbury Marina, where retired Marines will accept and transport them to the Toys for Tots distribution center.

“The boat parade starts at the Yacht Club in Allen and runs up the river to downtown Salisbury to West Main Street. You can see the boats anywhere along the river. A lot of places have public access. There are places on Riverside Drive. You can see them near the marina, at Brew River,” McCurdy said.

“It’s just a great event for anybody who wants to go out and watch it. Kids love it. There are parties all up and down the river with bonfires. You see families, adults, children, everybody. There will even be people shooting off fireworks. It’s a lot of fun. Just a great event,” McCurdy said.

The boat parade, he said, adds another dimension to the Christmas season.

“It has become one of the kick-off events of the holiday season.

“We’ll have Santa Claus right on board in one of the boats. Both (Mayor) Jake Day and (County Executive) Bobby Culver will be riding along and participating. We’re going to put them to work,” McCurdy said.

About 20 vessels will participate.

Anyone with any kind of boat is welcome to join. Call McCurdy at 410-430-2282.

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