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by David Barker HOLIDAY

Silver Bells lights up Lansing with fireworks, electric parade

lighting of luminaries (think candles), but for all intents and purposes it was the kind of thing you probably passed through on your way to somewhere else. “Back then it was just a few families milling around the downtown area, but now it has


grown so much,” said Tim Barron, local radio personality at 92.9-FM and Silver Bells host. Barron will be hosting the event for the 24th time. He does it to give back to the com-

munity, but at the same time he said he enjoys seeing “happy anticipation” on people’s faces. “The city comes more to life than ever,” Barron said. “Lights all along the building tops,

folks peering in shop windows, singing, cider, horses, a parade; it’s Christmas in Michigan and at the epicenter is the state tree. “It’s a time where everyone forgets about their problems for a little while,” Barron added.

“It’s the kind of attitude that goes with such a Rockwellian event.” There’s a little more flare and spectacle than a normal Rockwell – drawing in folks from

well outside the Lansing area. “There can be more than 100,000 people,” said Mindy Biladeau, Silver Bells’ executive

director. Biladeau is the director of downtownlansing Inc. which is putting on the show this year. “It typically grows every year, but it’s always somewhere in the neighborhood of 80,000

to 100,000 people,” Biladeau said. This year will kick off with the new Silver Bells Fun Run, a 2.5 mile run that will begin

in Ruetter Park in Lansing. After that the main event will kick off downtown when the Radio Disney Road Crew will “sing, dance and play” on the Capitol steps. From there the show will roll through the 15th annual Electric Light Parade, the lighting of the massive Michigan state tree, fireworks over the Capitol dome and finally a Josh Gordon concert hosted by Radio Disney. Silver Bells will be capped off the same way it has been for the last six years: a live old-time

radio show hosted by 89.7 FM (WLNZ) in LCC’s Dart Auditorium. If you’re wondering what exactly that entails, think National Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” or that one time Orson Welles had people thinking the U.S. was under attack by space aliens (go ahead, look it up). The radio show is a little piece of Americana organized by WLNZ Station Manager Dave Downing. “When it started, they were looking for something different to do to promote the station

and bring people to the campus,” Downing said. “We happened to come across the 1947 radio play that promoted the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.”

It went over so well that over the next few years WLNZ

have put on live radio plays such as the Miracle on 34th Street and this year’s production Meet me in St. Louis. “Meet me in St. Louis has a huge connection to the

Christmas season because it was the movie that introduced the song ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas,’” Downing said.

Before the radio show people will have a chance to see attractions all over the downtown

area from live reindeer at the Lansing Center to El Ballet de Maria Luz at the Michigan Library and Historical Center. “It’s family friendly, high energy and exciting,” Biladeau said. “We like to think of it

as kicking off the holiday season in Michigan. And it basically shuts down the downtown Lansing area.” It’s a family event, yes, and there are a lot of activities aimed at kids. Still, it wouldn’t

hurt for students to drop in and check out the fireworks, caricature artists and Santa. It’s what some would call “good, clean fun.” n



T MIGHT SEEM THAT ONCE AN event attracts more than 1,000 people, it becomes the kind of thing that goes from holiday celebration to organized chaos fairly quickly. But when it comes to Silver Bells in the City, there still remains a sense of sharing

that is so often found in small gatherings. Back in 1985 when the event began, it was essentially a couple dozen people roaming around downtown Lansing; there was the



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