Evergreen Festival offering new and traditional events

REED CITY — Christmas spirit will overtake the Reed City community on Friday, Nov. 28, and Saturday, Nov. 29, during the annual Evergreen Festival.

The two-day event brings thousands into the city to celebrate the holidays, and Reed City Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Suzie Williams believes this year will be no different.

"I'm looking forward to seeing everyone coming out to participate," Williams said. "Everyone comes home for the holidays, and all of the snow gets everyone in the mood for Christmas. It's a fun day to get out and enjoy with the family."

The annual arts and crafts show, sponsored by Community Education, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days of the festival. More than 100 booths and vendors will line Reed City High School corridors offering items and gifts for friends and family of all ages. Concessions also will be available during the event.

The craft show is a great time to take care of Christmas shopping in one stop, and for the opportunity to pick something up for oneself, Williams added. This year will bring new vendors with new items.

The Evergreen Parade is one of the highlights of the festival, and this year it will begin traveling through downtown at 1 p.m.

"The parade always brings the anticipation that Santa Claus is coming to town," Williams said. "Everyone decorates their floats or vehicles to be part of the fun, and the kids and adults love it. It's a great way to kick off the holidays."

Groups or individuals looking to take part can line up at 12:30 p.m. at the corners of Sears and Franklin streets. Participants may want to dress lively for the occasion, as cash prizes will be awarded. The grand prize winner will take home $100, $50 will be awarded to the best vehicle, walkers/marchers, animal/adult, animal/youth, business and organization, and the best band will take home $25. To enter the parade, visit reedcity.org or call the Chamber at (231) 832-5431.

New this year is a Santa's Sleigh Bed Race event, hosted by the Reed City Firefighters Association and slated to take place downtown following the parade.

"In the late '80s and early 90's we had a bed race during our summer festival, which is now the Crossroads Festival," said Assistant Fire Chief Dave Belden. "I thought it would be neat to have the race again, but this time during the Evergreen Festival."

Money raised from the event will go toward the Reed City Fire Department purchase of mechanical CPR devices, which are needed to assist with manpower shortages the department faces during the daytime. The machines also are beneficial because they do not tire and can administer the same quality of CPR after minutes of use.

Six teams already have been registered, but Belden is hoping for a total of at least 10. Each team will have four pushers and one rider, who will be dressed in pajamas provided by the fire department. The race will begin at the 200 block of Upton and travel east for 300 feet to the intersection of Upton and Higbee streets. Once there, the team will participate in a "North Pole Fire Drill," where the rider will take off the pajamas and switch positions with a pusher before being able to travel another 300 feet to the finish line.

Beds must be twin-sized, be at least 10 inches off the ground, but no more than 8 feet tall. They need to be equipped with a mattress, sheet and pillow. Decorations and costumes are encouraged.

Belden expects to see a lot of entertaining sights during the race.

"I'm hoping we can have some community fun and hope it can be a repeat event again next year," he added.

The entry fee is $100 per team of five individuals and winners of the race will receive monetary prizes. Participants must be at least 16 years old. For more information on the race or to register for the event, call Dave Belden at (231) 349-2161 or visit reedcityfire.org.

The Reed City Depot also will be a hub of activity after the parade ends, Williams said. Children hoping to share their Christmas wishes to Santa can pay him a visit with Mrs. Claus before checking out his reindeer. In addition, the depot will be decorated like a gingerbread house for visitors to frost gingerbread cookies. A bonfire, hot chocolate and cookies will help everyone feel warm and refreshed.

"I want to encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the day," Williams added.