30th Anniversary for the Blaze of Lights to Take Place Downtown Saturday

    It’s been 30 years since the lights on the Reams’ display in downtown Bluffton were first turned on. This year’s activities keep up the tradition of holiday anticipation.
   Begin the season by attending the Shannon Theatre on Friday, Nov. 25, at 1:30 or 4 p.m. for a free showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” sponsored by Tommy Tire Sales and Stratton Auto Group.
   Also on Friday and on Saturday, Nov. 26, go to the Holly Follies at 8 p.m. in the Bluffton Middle School cafetorium. It’s been 25 years since the last one. Performers include Kevin Gratz’s Men’s Quartet, Deb Garlock’s Dancer’s Elite, the Flag City Cloggers, a Jazzercize demonstration, Katie Hohenbrink, Dan Basinger, Everett Collier, a hospital skit called “Mother Goose in the ER,” Kara Gratz Zink, the  BHS Show Choir, Jim Boedecker and Nick Nowlan. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Children age 3 and younger are free.
   Outside on Saturday will be ice sculptor Paul Ahrens of Hilliard. His show is interactive and allows for photo opportunities, a must see and do activity before the parade. Ice sculpting begins at 3 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
   Beginning at 4 p.m., the Bluffton Senior Citizens Center will be serving sandwiches, soups and pie until 7 p.m.; and the Bluffton Lions will have its annual chicken barbecue in the Presbyterian Church basement, with drive-through pick up in the Family Dollar parking lot, until 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available from a Lions member. Larson Barbecue will also be serving on Vine Street, and the Crawfis Family will have Country Kettle Corn in the Sports Warehouse alley.
   Don’t miss the parade at 5, narrated by John George in his town crier garb, and John Weihrauch, parade organizer. Grand Marshal for the parade will be Dick Jordan.
   Between the parade and the display lighting will be performances by the BHS Show Choir, the Bluffton University Brass Musicians and Ryan Strickler on the piano.
   At 6:55 p.m., George will read the Christmas story from Luke 2, and Dennis Morrison will flip the switch to the Reams’ display, bringing a soft glow to that whole area of downtown.
   After the parade, if you don’t want to watch the shows, you can take a horse and wagon ride around town to look at the decorations with J. A. Smith’s Town and Country Carriage Service beside the Bluffton News office, meet Ronald McDonald at the reviewing stand, visit the Gift of Giving Light show on College Avenue, meet Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus in the Bluffton Senior Citizens Center, ride the Romick Railway (for children) in front of the Bluffton Senior Citizens Center or walk around to view the store window displays.
   Heading up this year’s events are the Village Cultural Affairs Committee, consisting of Terry Mullenhour, chairman, Sheila Niswander, Roger Brodman and Jerry Burkholder; and the Blaze committee composed of Lauren Beasley, Tammy Whitlow, Phil Zimmerly, Junior Weihrauch and Gennifer Akroyd.
   Sponsors of the 30th anniversary Blaze celebration are listed as Major, Silver , Ruby and Bronze. Major sponsors are Bluffton University, Hancock County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, JD Snyder Excavating, and the Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.
   Silver sponsors are Bluffton Hospital, Bluffton Paving and Bluffton Stone Co., Citizens National Bank, Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio, Smith’s Realty Professionals, Shannon Theatre and Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn Co. and Wessler Engineering.
Ruby sponsors include Bluffton Farmers’ Market; DTR Industries; Family Eye Care; First National Bank; Greg’s Pharmacy; Bluffton Icon; M & R Plumbing and Heating; Sielschott, Walsh, Kiefer & Regula, CPA;  and Ellerbrock Spine and Soft Tissue.
   Bronze sponsors are Boehr Site Seekers, Bluffton Aeration Service, Common Grounds Coffee Shop, Diamond Manufacturing, Fortman Insurance, Edward Jones and Tommy Tire Sales.
   According to Gennifer Akroyd of the Chamber, special thanks go to the families of Ropp and Mary Em Triplett for their continued support of the “Gift of Giving” display and two displays on Sunset Drive, “The Good Samaritan” and the “Bell Choir.” Each of these add delight to the season and to the Blaze celebration.