Holiday events to light up Downtown

12/5/2015, 4:20 a.m.
Richmond is getting into the holiday season with a host of events to bring cheer to families and individuals, including ...
Holiday activities, such as ice skating at the RVA On Ice rink in Downtown, are enjoyed by Richmonders, visitors and people throughout the area. The holiday spirit and fun continue Thursday, Dec. 3, with the state’s official tree lighting ceremony and Executive Mansion open house, the Grand Illumination at the James Center on Friday, Dec. 4, and the Dominion Christmas Parade along Broad Street on Saturday, Dec. 5. Photo by James Haskins

Richmond is getting into the holiday season with a host of events to bring cheer to families and individuals, including a holiday parade, Christmas tree lightings and an open house at the Executive Mansion.

The festivities begin Thursday, Dec. 3, when Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia’s First Family participate in the state’s official tree lighting ceremony from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on the South Portico of the State Capitol.

Then from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the public can greet Gov. McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe at an open house at the Executive Mansion. Choral music will be provided by the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School. Cookies and hot cider will be served.

Then on Friday, Dec. 4, hundreds of people are expected to fill the streets around the James Center in Downtown for the 31st Annual Grand Illumination.

Music, caroling and other entertainment will fill Cary Street between 9th and 12th streets starting at 5 p.m. Revelers will join in a countdown to the annual lighting of the city’s Great Tree & Reindeer and the flick of a switch by the city’s businesses to set Downtown aglow at 6 p.m.

Then on Saturday, Dec. 5, the fun will continue with the 32nd Annual Dominion Christmas Parade.

Hometown American Idol finalist Rayvon Owen will serve as the grand marshal of the parade that will start at 10:15 a.m. at the Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St., and continue east on Broad Street to its conclusion at 7th Street in Downtown.

About 98 units are expected for the parade, including members of the Harlem Globetrotters, the Richmond Public Schools All-City Marching Band, Clowns of America International, the Virginia Union University Ambassadors of Sound Marching Band, the Red Crooked Sky American Indian Dance Troupe and of course, Santa Claus.

The Grand Illumination schedule at the James Center follows:

5 p.m.: SPARC, the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community, will lead Christmas caroling.

5:45 p.m.: The Virginia Commonwealth University pep band, “The Peppas,” will perform on the main stage leading up to the illumination.

From 6 to 7 p.m.: Entertainment will be provided at various stages by Big Ray and the Kool Kats, Virginia Repertory Theatre’s cast of “Gypsy,” the Richmond Boys Choir, the American Youth Harp Ensemble, characters from “The Nutcracker,” Snow Bear, the VCU Trombone Choir, the Coventry Handbells from Bon Air Baptist Church, singer Patsy Butler, the Virginia Piedmont & Central HO Model Railroad Club and Big Bang Boom!

Kathy Dupree of WRIC TV8 will serve as the ceremony’s Snow Queen.

Greater Richmond SCAN, Stop Child Abuse Now, will be collecting toys for 200 Richmond area children. Unwrapped gifts and toys for children and youths up to age 17 may be put in the collection sleigh in the James Center lobby until Dec. 11.

For more information on the Grand Illumination: www.thejamescenter.com or (804) 344-3232.

For more information on the Dominion Christmas Parade: www.richmondparade.org or (804) 788-6479.