Winterfest once again a big hit with community

by Dan Holland

More than 1,000 area residents turned out for Broadview Heights’ annual Winterfest celebration, held from 4 – 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at the city amphitheater.

The event, sponsored by the Parks & Recreation Department, included ice sculpting demonstrations, hayrides, Christmas music, snacks, Santa’s Workshop, pictures with Santa, safety forces and service department vehicles and fireworks.

Lines for photos with Santa, who arrived at the locale via fire engine, were lengthy throughout the duration of the event, as were the lines for hayrides, as droves of young families came out in force on the mild 50-degree December day.

“We used to do this event indoors; it was a community tree lighting and holiday party,” explained Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Ryan Meyer. “We decided after Covid to bring it outdoors, and it’s been a huge hit ever since.”

“We have toymaking, hot chocolate and snacks, hayrides, pictures with Santa and ice sculptures,” Meyer continued. “It’s continuing our Fall Fest and continuing the theme of holding our events outdoors and having family photos along with everything else. We decided to push it back to 4-6 p.m. this year, with fireworks at 6 p.m. We added a lot of new things, and this year, the weather is pretty nice, so we are expecting a lot more folks.”

Guillermo Akerman and his sons, Vincent, 5, and Alexander, 3, first popped into the large tent designated as Santa’s Workshop, to grab some cookies and hot chocolate. “We came to see Santa, but we had to make a pit stop to taste the cookies and brownies,” he said. “We love living here in Broadview Heights and coming out to all the city events.”

Brecksville residents Brian and Stephanie Bartos helped their children, Sophie and Bennett, build wooden toys for all the good little girls and boys in Santa’s Workshop. “We came out for the festivities and all the fun today,” said Brian Bartos.

Gabe Osorio of Broadview Heights brought children Knox and Isla to the event in a red wagon to take in the sights and sounds. “We came for the ice sculptures, to see Santa, visit Santa’s workshop and see some fireworks,” he said.

Nicole Karwoski of Brecksville came to the event with children Mason and Olivia. “We came last minute to see the youth cheerleaders’ float, visit with Santa and grab some snacks,” she said.

It was all about visiting with Santa and grabbing some cookies and hot chocolate for the Gallagher family of Broadview Heights.

“It’s all about bringing families and people together,” said Mayor Sam Alai. “Here in Broadview Heights, we don’t just host events in the summer – we also have them in fall and winter. We want to bring family entertainment to all of our residents as often as we can, and a big thanks to our recreation department for putting all of this on. This is a great event for families, and we’ll continue to do this and grow it moving forward.” 

Even Broadview Heights Mayor Sam Alai
had a wish list to share with Santa. Photos
by Dan Holland.

Violet and Aubrey Gallagher, pictured
with their parents, Mike and Erica
Gallagher of Broadview Heights, were all
smiles after their visit with Santa.

On our cover (photo) An ice carver from Elegant Ice Creations sculpts a snowman from a block of ice as part of the city’s annual Winterfest celebration Dec. 2. Photo by Dan Holland.