Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend activities draw thousands to area

The soup cook off was one of the many popular Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend activities taking place on Friday.

The soup cook off was one of the many popular Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend activities taking place on Friday.

MANISTEE — The wonderful aroma of many great tasting soups was in the air on River Street Friday and the ballroom of the Ramsdell Theatre was aglow with an array of colored lights with the Festival of Trees for the second day of the 25th Annual Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend celebration.

Friday’s events drew large crowds to the downtown area for a variety of events. The popular Fourth Annual Soup Cookoff brought out many people to taste the delicious offerings that were served up at 15 locations on River Street.

“It is going great and bringing in lots of people,” said the Ideal Kitchen’s Shelley Doyen, who co-chaired the event. “We have been keeping a count and there are 19 people who have come in that have never been in Manistee before, but heard about the Sleighbell Parade in the Midwest Living article.”

Snyder Shoes’ Dan Bathrick was serving up his favorite soup that included rice, chicken and a whole lot more. He served up his special creation with a garnish of a smile and friendly word.

“It took quite a while to chop everything up, but it was worth it,” he said.

Manistee County Chamber of Commerce director Stacie Bytwork said the Festival of Trees turned out simply beautiful this year. The chamber board of directors made some changes and they proved to be very popular with the public on Thursday evening at the Business After Hours and throughout the day on Friday.

“I think it is absolutely beautiful and we have some new items this year that we are really excited about this year,” she said. “There was lots of volunteer help that put it together this year, and I think it is just going to be a great event for the community. We had a lot of people going around and bidding on things at the Business After Hours, so we were really excited about it.”

Bytwork said it wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of those who took the time to decorate trees and wreaths.

“People that decorated trees and wreaths did a lot of creative things this year,” she said.

In the lower level of the Ramsdell Theatre members of the Manistee Civic Players were busy throughout Friday afternoon giving guided tours of the 112-year-old historic building. It gave many people the opportunity to enjoy their first backstage view of the theatre.

Also taking place in the T. Walter Hardy Hall of the Ramsdell Theatre was the Manistee Art Institute’s Members Show. More than 50 pieces of artwork created by members of the Manistee Art Institute were on display at this unique exhibit.

“The turnout has been good and the show is well received,” said Manistee Art Institute chair Kerry Schubach. “We anticipate that the numbers will be going even higher on Saturday.

Tasty delights could be found everywhere along River Street on Friday. The Manistee County Child Advocacy Center had the “sweetest” event of the weekend with its “For the Love of Children and Chocolate” event.

“Originally, we looked at when we could do it. We wanted to pick a time that had something to do with sweets,” said Manistee Child Advocacy Center executive director Traci Smith. “We thought that there wasn’t anything like Sleighbell, so we just thought this would be a good time.”

More than 50 chocolate items including candy, fudge, truffles and much more were available to be purchased. All the proceeds went to benefit the victims of child abuse.

The evening hours brought about lots of music. On River Street the Vogue Brass ensemble made its usual appearance in front of the newly renovated Vogue Theater.

People also gathered around Guardian Angels Church in the evening to the sound of the 103-year-old Meneeley Chime. The outdoor concert has always been a favorite of everyone during the Sleighbell Parade Weekend.

Events continue throughout the day today with the Sleighbell Parade at 5:30 p.m. The events will run until Sunday.

 

 

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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