Holidays are rooted in tradition, and by the size of the crowd gathered on the City Green for the North Royalton Holiday Lighting and Christmas Parade, it’s apparent that the popular annual event is one of residents’ favorite customary ways to kick off the season.
Families arrived early Nov. 27 to get a good view of the festive display of parade participants. The parade, which celebrated its 16th year, stepped off the Royalwood Road exit of St. Albert the Great Church at 4:45 p.m. and made its way down Ridge Road to the City Green, where eager crowds watched the excitement from the sidewalks.
This year’s Christmas Parade line-up included members of the North Royalton Tractor Club, the famed North Royalton High School Drumline, Pinecone Ice Cream, the North Royalton United Methodist Church, the YMCA Adventure Guides, and winners of the Community Festival Pageant. Rounding out the parade roster was the big man himself, Santa Claus, arriving last aboard a shiny red fire truck adorned in twinkle lights.
After disembarking his “sleigh,” Santa made his way onto the City Green to visit with children and ask their Christmas wishes alongside Mrs. Claus. The jolly couple took their place inside their cozy “Little Red House” and gave each visiting child a Malley’s Chocolate Santa Bar and small toy.
North Royalton residents Gina and Scott Ward, and their children Tessa, Riley, and Jeffrey, enjoyed a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“We’ve been coming to the event for four years,” said Gina. “We love the hot cocoa, parade, and of course, Santa.”
Over in “The Chocolate Café,” members of the Royalton Hills Lions Club and North Royalton Lions Club kept up with their tradition of serving up tasty complimentary hot cocoa with marshmallows and glazed donuts.
“My favorite part of all this? It’s seeing the sparkle in kids’ eyes,” said Royalton Hills Lions Club member Patricia Stahorsky. “Really, it’s just the overall happiness of it all.”
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw shared similar sentiments of the annual event.
“I’ve been coming to this event since I was a kid, and now it’s so nice to be able to enjoy it with my family,” Langshaw said of his wife Marissa and son Henry. “It’s just a nice family tradition. It’s a nice way for residents to come out and get together to celebrate the holiday season.”
Following the parade, Mayor Bob Stefanik stepped inside the City Green Gazebo alongside members of City Council to perform the traditional lighting of the “Avenue of Trees.” To assist the group, Mayor Stefanik also invited children up from the crowd. After a countdown from 10, the City Green came to life with 60 6-ft. twinkling evergreen trees sponsored by city businesses, civic organizations, municipal government members and residents.

Members of the Holiday Lighting Committee took advantage of recent warm weather to put lighting on all the trees and assist city workers with setting up various structures. Camille Price oversees the lighting and said her favorite aspect of this volunteer duty is having the ability to provide something festive for residents.
Fellow Committee Member Geneva Prince shared in her colleague’s enthusiasm.

“North Royalton has always been my home,” said Prince, who has organized and overseen the parade portion of the event for the past decade. “The parade and the lighting really get everybody in the spirit for the holidays. I’ve done this in rain, snow, and whatever else, and we don’t care, we’re just having fun no matter what. Everyone is always so excited just to be involved.”

Contributing Writer