Farmington area groups host virtual holiday events, contest

The 35th annual Farmington holiday tree lighting will feel different this year, but families will still be able to enjoy this festive Farmington favorite.

Because of the pandemic, organizers have decided turned the tree lighting into a virtual event. It will be streamed online as part of a video broadcast that highlights everything that makes Farmington special during the holidays.

Tree lighting

Traditionally, the tree lighting event has followed Holly Days and the Light Up the Grand parade, which ends at the Governor Warner Mansion as hundreds of people crowd the yard to sing carols and help Santa light the tree. Due to COVID-19 public health guidelines, these in-person events have been canceled. Instead, at 8 p.m. on December 5, the City of Farmington will livestream a pre-recorded holiday special, filmed in downtown Farmington, and at the Governor Warner Mansion.

Santa reading Governor Warner Mansion
Brian Golden records Santa’s virtual visit for the Farmington holiday broadcast, which airs December 5. (Maria Taylor)

The event is hosted by the Farmington Area Jaycees, in cooperation with the City of Farmington and Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce. 2020 Jaycees president Steph Sedlar said while it’s not a typical gathering, in some ways, the virtual event is better.

“You can watch it from the comfort of your home, and people who weren’t able to make it out before can now see it,” she said. “Community members have come together to make this holiday program special. We are so excited to share the holiday spirit with everyone, and while we may not be physically together, you all are in our hearts and minds. We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.”

Tributes, award announcements, holiday demos

The holiday broadcast will include footage from past lighted parades, a tribute to local heroes of 2020, messages from Farmington Mayor Sara Bowman and Farmington Hills Mayor Vicki Barnett, Christmas tree safety tips, announcement of the 2020 Farmington Area Jaycees Citizen and Business of the Year, and holiday demos of eats, treats, and gifts from Farmington-area businesses — all narrated by the Jaycees and the Greater Farmington Chamber of Commerce.

Farmington virtual holiday livestream
Connor Osborne (in elf hat), executive director of the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, introduces a peppermint-bark-making demo by Missy LaRussa of Kitchen Creations. The demo is one of several features on holiday gifts and tips from Farmington businesses. (courtesy Missy LaRussa)

Then, as he does every year, Santa Claus will read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to Farmington’s children and young at heart. The program will finish with the countdown and lighting of the tree at the Governor Warner Mansion gazebo.

The program will be live-streamed at 8 p.m. on December 5 on the City of Farmington’s cable channels, website, and Facebook page as well as the Chamber and Jaycees social media channels. It will remain available for viewing after the live broadcast.

Families are also welcome to stop by the gazebo anytime over the holidays to take a photo by the tree.

Letters to Santa
Through December 18, kids can mail a letter to Santa at the Governor Warner Mansion. Drop the letter, plus postage and a return address, in the red Victorian mailbox on the front lawn, and a response will come in the mail. (Maria Taylor)

Letters to Santa

New this year, kids can bring their letters to the bright red Victorian mailbox installed on the Governor Warner Mansion’s front lawn. If letters are deposited by December 18, and a return address and stamp are included, kids will receive a reply in the mail.

The Farmington Area Jaycees are running the program, and the mailbox is sponsored by the Farmington Historical Society.

Holiday Lights Contest

Also new for 2020, the Jaycees are hosting a holiday lights contest. Residents of Farmington and Farmington Hills can enter, upload photos, and pay the $10 entry fee at fajc.org/holidaylightscontest.html.

“Since we can’t have a holiday tree lighting in person this this year, we want to see your home light up the season,” said Teri Madigan, Farmington Area Jaycees.

Winners will be chosen by the community. Enter now through December 5 — then check back to vote. Winners will be announced December 30.

 

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