NORTH ROYALTON – For the Bokoch family, like many in Royalton, the Sunday following Thanksgiving has become a family tradition.
Every year this family of five gathers with dozens of other neighbors to welcome in the Christmas season with fanfare as a community at the annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony and Parade, hosted Nov. 27 by the Holiday Lighting Committee.
“We come every year since we moved to North Royalton in 2010. We love the snacks, seeing Santa, seeing the parade,” mom Cortney said. “It’s our family tradition.”
Nearby, Jon Hall brought along his festive fido Edjar, a Bernese Mountain dog, who was sporting a Santa coat. Hall and Edjar were there to see Hall’s daughter, who is the captain of the Royalaires flag team.
Besides the parade, what was his favorite aspect of the lighting ceremony?
“All the people and the kids,” he said, awaiting the parade’s start.
Mike Kolz and Sophia, 4, one of his two daughters, were eagerly scoping out the route waiting for any signs of its arrival. Sophia had the best vantage point atop her father’s shoulders.
“She likes the parade. It really kicks off the season,” Kolz said.
Several city officials celebrated the festivities alongside constituents.
Ward 2 Councilman Gary Petrusky brought along granddaughter Hope, 7.
“I want to share the holiday with her and the rest of my fellow neighbors,” he said.
This Holiday Lighting was meaningful for the Langshaws, marking their first as a family – Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw, wife Marissa and son Henry.
“I can remember coming with my family, and now I’m coming with my own,” he said.
He stopped to chat with Ward 1 Councilman John Nickell.
“It’s nice to have the community come together in the season of hope and love as we look forward to celebrating the meaning of Christmas and the New Year,” Nickell said.
Just then, the flashing lights could be spotted and the faint sound of the drums, marking the parade’s impending arrival.
It’s a much shorter parade then Home Days but has all the bells and whistles with the North Royalton High School Marching Band, the Royalaires, a few local organizations and businesses and, of course, the man of the hour, Santa Claus himself, as the caboose atop a firetruck.
He headed in to his own personal cottage to hear boys’ and girls’ wish lists.
Brayden Fedarko, 3, of North Royalton, asked for weapons of the trade, a Nerf blaster and a light saber.
At the gazebo, another crowd of youngsters helped Mayor Bob Stefanik and city council count down from 10 and flip the switch, officially lighting the Green.
“Merry Christmas!” they all shouted in unison as the lights switched on.
“This is breathtaking,” one man said aloud, surveying the decorations.
Afterward, many guests typically retreat across the street to The 3 Spot to continue the festivities and warm up.
Council President Larry Antoskiewicz and Stefanik both said it was another successful, beautiful ceremony.
“Because the weather cooperated, we had a nice crowd and the line for Santa was rather extensive,” Antoskiewicz said. “This is always a good time because it starts off the holiday season right.”
“Kudos to the Holiday Lighting Committee and the Royalton Hills Lions, who did a great job as usual,” the mayor added.