CUYAHOGA FALLS, Nov. 19 – When it comes to the holidays in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, even objects most shoppers despise — parking meters — get into the act.
For the second straight year, Cuyahoga Falls will transform its Riverfront Square District parking meters into holiday decorations with “Parking Meters on Parade.” Mayor Don Walters got the idea of decorating the meters from the town of Berryville, Virginia.
Businesses and civic groups have enthusiastically backed the event, and Downtown Cuyahoga Falls has even incorporated it into its annual Tree Lighting ceremonies, which will be held this year on Saturday, November 27. (See below for the schedule of events that day). While lots of communities have lighting ceremonies, few add both ice skating and decorated parking meters to their holiday festivities.
The skating rink has been a fixture in downtown Cuyahoga Falls for every year (save one) since 2004. Santa’s appearance and the tree lighting ceremony have been happening for more than a decade. Other events and activities have been added over the years.
In 2021 no big local outdoor event seems to happen without food trucks present to help feed the crowd. There will be seven different culinary offerings on Front Street this year for the Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Parking Meter Involvement an “Incredible Honor”
Businesses, civic groups, and local schools all get involved in the Parking Meters on Parade decorations. While the Tree Lighting ceremony is a major one-day event, Parking Meters on Parade continues throughout the holiday season.
“We are incredibly honored to be sponsored by the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center this year,” says Jennifer Schulman, art teacher at Cuyahoga Falls High School, whose students are decorating a parking meter. “For our artists, this has become a family event, encouraging a family trip downtown to take pictures, make memories, and proudly share our student artists accomplishment.”
Cuyahoga Falls art students are excited about the opportunity to display their creativity also.
“It’s a great way to have people see our art,” says Brandon Gleisinger, a senior at CFHS. “The parking meter parade gives us a sense of belonging. We get to see that others enjoy creating as much as we do.” Adds 10th grader Riley Monaco. Karley Looney, a CHFS junior, adds that the parking meter project is a festive way to bond as a club and also to be involved in community activities.
Cindy Michael is the owner of Harps and Thistles, the Front Street business which won the top prize for best business decoration in the 2020 Parking Meters on Parade. She thinks the event is a tremendous booster for downtown businesses.
“Who doesn’t love free parking?” Michael asks. “We love being able to share what we do with the community, and we were so happy to see the excitement surrounding our Grinch meter last year.
“My customers absolutely loved the parking meters last year and appreciated the extra fun and creativity that they added to our downtown area for the holiday season,” Michael explains. “Looking at all of the meters and (the then) voting on their favorites is a fun activity for families to do together. Downtown Cuyahoga Falls is such a great small business community, and I think that people really appreciate the diversity of shopping opportunities within just a few blocks.
Residents viewing the Parking Meters on Parade will get to vote on the best-decorated meter. Voting begins on Monday, December 6, at 8 a.m., and ends on Friday, December 17, at 5 p.m. Voters will select: Best Decoration Overall; Best Decoration by a Downtown Business; Best Decoration by a Business Citywide; and Best Decoration by a Family, Individual, Community Organization, or School Group. You can vote at the City of Cuyahoga Falls website: www.cityofcf.com
Tuba sing-along, and Santa too!
As the Tree Lighting events unfold, the Northeast Ohio Tuba Euphonium Ensemble will take center stage at 5 p.m. Nearly half of the 35-member ensemble will be playing that evening. It is believed that this group is one of only two adult-amateur large tuba-euphonium ensembles currently active in the U.S
“We will be playing a bunch of short Christmas carols, suitable for a sing-along,” says Jim McIntyre, founder of the Ensemble. “Tucker Jolly, who runs the Akron Tuba Christmas will be our director.” McIntryre adds that the Euphonium Ensemble will perform next in concert at the Hofbrauhaus in Cleveland on Sunday, December 5.
After the Tuba Ensemble, Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and Mayor Walters will appear. They will be arriving via a City of Cuyahoga Falls Fire Dept. truck coming down Front Street. The Mayor and Santa will light the tree at 6 p.m.
Tree Lighting ceremony schedule
12:00 pm: Ice Rink Opens (skate rental is $4)
Ice Carving Demos
Live Reindeer Exhibit
Crafts/Letters to Santa
Cookies & Cocoa
DJ & Photo Booth
Food Trucks: Wholly Frijoles, Mel’s Diner, Cheezy Dave’s, Jet’s Pizza, The Popcorn Truck, Cafe Arnone, and DeLiberato’s Bakery
5:00 pm: The Northeast Ohio Tuba Euphonium Ensemble
5:30 pm: Santa begins procession down Front St. on Cuyahoga Falls Fire Truck
6:00 pm: Santa Claus and Mayor Walters light the Tree
NOTE: Eyeoncleveland’s JOHN KEREZY, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, wrote this story. Thanks to the City of Cuyahoga Falls, Cuyahoga Falls Art Teacher Jennifer Schulman, and others for their assistance with the story.