KENT: When Santa Clause got off of a train to kick off Kent’s Festival of Lights celebration on Saturday, he was greeted by smiling faces in a remodeled downtown, which may have been the greatest gift of all to the Kent community.
The line to meet Santa wrapped around the street, as Kent Roosevelt High School cheerleaders greeted the excited children waiting to meet Santa.
“It’s a positive thing and a way for us to give back,” said Roosevelt cheerleading coach Renee Manning.
This was Manning’s second year attending the festival, but the cheerleaders have been Santa’s helpers for decades.
“The community supports our football team, our basketball team, and our school in so many ways,” Manning said. She added the girls are always enthusiastic to give back around the holidays.
The holiday spirit was contagious with the thousands of lights, red bows, and winter projections around the downtown area.
Vendors ceased the opportunity to introduce themselves to the families at the festival. One such business was Kent Cycle, a bike shop that opened in April. Co-owners Adam Graham and Stefan Meyer passed out stickers and hot apple cider at their booth.
“We came down, and we wanted to be a part of the community event because we believe in Kent and we love Kent,” Graham said. “We brought some bikes down to show everybody.”
Acorn Alley I and Acorn Alley II were filled with excited families who enjoyed the bustling commerce of the new renovations, along with the holiday traditions of the Festival of Lights.
“We wanted to see the tree lit up and it was a nice night,” said Jocelyn Lee, a Kent State student.
Lee said she likes to attend events such as the Festival of Lights because she is from Pittsburgh and finding such family-friendly events for free is not as easy there.
With movies such as Frosty the Snowman playing on a projector screen and costumed carolers singing classics, the Festival of Lights was definitely a family affair.
Lucas Pierre, a young boy attending the festival with his family, came “mostly for the chocolate and to see the train and the decorations and stuff.”