A record turnout for Kent Festival of Lights

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I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors to publicly thank those that helped make this year's Festival of Lights such a huge success. Without the combined efforts and resources of so many, the official welcoming of Santa to downtown Kent wouldn't be possible.

For years the KACC has sponsored this family-friendly, community event in collaboration with The City of Kent, Kent Parks & Recreation, Kent Junior Mothers, Kent Kiwanis, Key Club, Hometown Bank and countless others. What made this year's event even more festive was the selflessness of volunteers from the city's Central Maintenance Department, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Budget and Finance, who donated hours of their own time transforming the gazebo, Main Street Bridge and Hometown Bank Plaza into a winter wonderland.

Special thanks to Nancy Rice and Gene Roberts for the hours of planning meetings that started immediately following last year's event. Your commitment to raising the bar and making Festival of Lights 2012 the biggest and best to date is greatly appreciated.

In addition to those mentioned, members of the Stanton and Theodore Roosevelt Boys Basketball teams and coaches volunteered and passed out just over 20 gallons of free hot chocolate (prepared by Marilyn Sessions) in less than 45 minutes. Once again the RHS cheerleaders dressed in the spirit of the season, serving as Santa's elves and distributing goodies donated by Kent Kiwanis. Members of the Key Club manned the letters to Santa writing tables ensuring all the eager boys and girls were able to put their wish lists together to be sent off to the North Pole.

Special thanks to Shelly Materials for providing Santa's mode of transportation, an engine operated and decorated by Santa's No. 1 elf, Bob Rohal. Hours were spent affixing lights and decorations to make Santa's entrance into downtown uniquely Kent.

Also instrumental in the success of the event were Woodsy's Music, which provided holiday tunes to set the mood, Jeff Ingram, who manned the blimp screen showing holiday favorites such as "Frosty The Snowman" for the first time, and Corey Fowler and the Theodore Roosevelt High School ACEs ensemble that entertained the record-breaking crowd waiting for Santa's arrival. Surrounding buildings were illuminated with seasonal pictures courtesy of Mike Pritt. Thanks to the strolling carolers in Dickens costumes courtesy of the Light Church who added to the festivities.

I'd also like to thank Katie Calvin, just one month into her KACC employment. You did an amazing job helping coordinate this year's event and juggling so many responsibilities. I hope this is the first of many Festival of Lights you're involved with.

The Kent Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to sponsor the Festival of Lights, the family-friendly event that kicks off the holiday season in downtown. It is because of the teamwork of the above mentioned individuals and groups that this year's event was so successful. The decorated gazebo and bridge, along with green and red lights shining on the falls below, added to the spirit of the season both seen and felt throughout downtown Kent ... thanks to the teamwork and commitment of so many volunteers!

Lori M Wemhoff, Executive Director,

Kent Area Chamber of Commerce & Central Portage County Visitors & Convention Bureau

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