The city is lit up by small white lights against a dark sky; an electric light parade with a school bus is decorated in lights, antlers, and a red nose; a cement truck is decked out in lights. Families are walking around, carols fill the night air, and an enormous tree is lit up by colorful lights all while fireworks illuminate the sky. This isn’t an event featuring Mickey and a magic castle, it’s Lansing’s 20th annual Silver Bells in the City, happening this Friday Nov. 19 around the State Capitol Building.
[xmas] Lansing has created its own celebration to kick off the holiday season. The event begins at 6:10 p.m. with an electric light parade featuring 60 floats, cars and trucks, each covered in a minimum of 5,000 lights. The procession, including seven high school bands and two horse-drawn carriages with state and city officials, begins at the corner of Lenawee Street and South Washington Square.
Following the parade, which will be dedicated to the city of Lansing to commemorate its 125 years as Michigan’s capital, the crowd will countdown to the lighting of the enormous tree directly in front of the State Capitol Building.
The towering evergreen is donated each year by a Michigan family. The tree must be 60 to 65 feet tall. This year’s tree is 61 feet tall and has been donated from a family in the Upper Peninsula.
Immediately after the tree is lit, fireworks will shoot off over the Capitol. This year’s show will be extended in celebration of Silver Bell’s 20th year.
In addition to these three main events, there will be 17 activity sites around the Capitol area. Each of these sites will be easily accessible to visitors by riding the CATA bus, which will have a special route that night just for Silver Bells events. The activity sites include free admission into many of Lansing’s non-profit cultural institutions, such as the Impression 5 Science Center and tours of the State Capitol, Michigan library and historical museum. Entertainment will also be provided by the Lansing Community College of Arts and Sciences and in River Walk Theater.
“[Entertainment] could be anything from a juggler to a hand bell choir to a children’s performance,” Sue Mills, director of the arts council, said.
In addition to performances geared toward children, little ones can also have the chance to phone Santa at a booth provided by CoreComm. The booth also allows visitors to “Share the Spirit” by making long-distance phone calls to anywhere in the United States for free.
Children that might not receive gifts from Santa will also be helped at Lansing’s Silver Bells event. The Lansing Board of Water and Light and the United States Marine Corps will be collecting toys for Toys for Tots at a booth on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Washington Square. They will be accepting new, unwrapped toys.
Twelve thousand toys were collected from the 80,000 attendees of last year’s Silver Bells in the City, and the Lansing’s Arts Council is anticipating an equal number of attendees this year.
“It appeals to grandparents, parents, children, college kids, everyone of all ages,” Mills said. “It’s a great family affair.”
For more information on Silver Bells in the City, check out http://www.lansing.org.

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