Silver Bells in the City


  A Lansing Tradition for 32 Yearssilverbellsfireworks_mg_7285r2-8x10

A Crowd Favorite
Nine-year-old Noah, and his eight-year-old sister, Nora, have begged their parents for a prime spot at their first 2016 Silver Bells in the City celebration. Their father, Matthew, has worked long hours on the Electric Light Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) float. It’s a crowd favorite In the Silver Bells Electric Light Parade, routed around the city center. The parade route link is:

Both youngsters have already brought an unwrapped new toy, silverbellsfireworks_mg_7285r2-8x10purchased from their allowances, for “Toys for Tots” at Toy Mill Court at Ottawa Street and Washington Square. These unused toys are accepted, beginning at noon Friday, Nov. 18. In a few hours, “
Silver Bells” will officially start.silverbellsfireworks_mg_7285r2-8x10

It’s 6 p.m.: The Grand Marshal’s car leads 60 other floats, all casting a prism of light and splendor. Noah points to Nora the CATA bus, every inch lit in green and blue, and the grille lights smiling at all gathered.bussilverbells

Noah and Nora wave to Santa, and it seems as though Santa and Mrs. Claus wink just at them. Booming brass instruments and the steady drum-beat of “The Drummer Boy” fills their ears, as a dozen marching bands proceed in perfect step. Each band’s members and instruments are festively decorated as reminders that the holiday season has arrived.

Their dad tells them the bands are judged, and the best-illuminated small and large marching band receives either a $500 gift card from Marshall Music, or $500 from the Board of Water and Light for their band programs.

Time flies by, and officials step forward to switch on the lights of the State Christmas tree. “Must be a hundred feet tall,” whispers Nora to Noah. Then, fireworks light the night sky in a riotous blaze of color. “Cool!” says Noah.

Silver Bells Village, Strolling Clowns, Community Sing

Their mother, Marcia, suggests they visit Silver Bells Village, where they can get some hot cider and cookies, and Marcia can see the holiday crafts of some 20 vendors. She purchases a $20 Silver Bells commemorative ornament by Tiffany Marie, of LaFille Gallery. The Village is in the 100 E. block of Allegan Avenue between South Washington Square and Grand Avenue. A half-hour later, Noah and Nora ask, “Where’s Dad?” Their mother replies: “Oh, he’s at the Community Sing. Would you like to go find him?”

“Yes, and we can sing too!”, says Nora. “I’ll hum,” concedes Noah.

There are a number of venues  for programs to appeal to all ages. The Ssilverbellspsartygja_8959-edvivezacroppedtate Christmas Tree is the gathering point for the Community Sing.  Along the way, they meet strolling clowns, who perform magic tricks for Noah and Nora. All of downtown’s rooftops shine with 40,000 white lights, thanks to the work of Jim Spitz, electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW 665), a parade sponsor. This is Spitz’ 20th year of seeing that all the lights work.

Other Silver Bells Activities

So many choices. The Michigan Library and Historical Museum is open 5-9 p.m., along with Lansing City Market, and the CATA Transportation Center and Lansing Center as hospitality centers. Cider and cookies are available, along with restrooms.

Coming to Silver Bells or Going Home – CATA’s Got A Seat For You

Matthew and Marcia and their children parked at the Michigan Historical Museum. For just 50 cents a person (those 42” and under ride free), they boarded a Silver Bells bus. Buses run every 10 minutes from 5-10 p.m. and stop at every entertainment venue. By 9 p.m., Matthew, Marcia and their children are tired and ready to go home. Their little sister, Nancy, is at home with a babysitter, eager to go to Breakfast with Santa on Saturday.

Breakfast With Santa, Nov. 19 or 20, 8 a.m.-noon

Four-year-old Nancy is up at 6 a.m. on Saturday. Marcia has agreed to take Nancy to a hot pancake breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Troppo, 111 East Michigan Ave. Marcia pre-bought the $10 tickets by calling Troppo on Oct. 25 (first day of registration) at (517) 371-4000. Toddlers under two can come with a parent or family member at no cost.

Nancy has a short list for Santa: a pair of fun slippers, a sock monkey plush toy, a horse puzzle, and a wish that Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive safely back home.

After breakfast and Santa, Nancy and her mother decorate cookies and make a simple holiday craft. Marcia asks if Nancy wants to write a letter to Santa. “Mom, I told Santa what I’d like. I know he will remember.”

Silver Bells 5K Run/Walk – 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19

sb-5k-runnersMatthew and Noah have paid $25 each to run the 3.12 mile trek that supports Silver Bells in the City and the Chris and Louise Holman Foundation. They have dressed like holiday Trekkies, and hope to finish in the top 75 of hundreds of runners. They have chip timers in their running shoes. Awards go to the runner with the most spirited costume, and the first, second and third place finishers. Each runner gets a long-sleeved T-shirt.

The 5K Run is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network and H & H, Inc. Register for the 5K at:

Silver Bells Sponsors

“It takes a city to make this all happen,” says Layna Anderson, Communications and Marketing Manager, Lansing Downtown, Inc.

Major Silver Bells sponsors include: Lansing Board of Water and Light, City of Lansing, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers #665, the National Electrical Contractors’ Association, Lake Trust Credit Union, Granger, the Lansing State Journal and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan.

Media sponsors include Fox 47, Comcast and WKAR, Lansing Public Media Center, Lansing Community College, and WLMI (92.9 FM). WKAR, Fox 47 and Comcast re-broadcasts the night’s activities during the weekend.

For a complete list of sponsors, all the Silver Bells activities, a Silver Bells map, and re-broadcast times go to: