The holiday season will officially get under way this weekend, and Weirton will be welcoming it in style.
For many years, the city of Weirton has enjoyed a wonderful Christmas parade to kick off the holiday festivities, and this year will be no different.
Once again, the parade will take place at night this year following a successful evening debut last year.
The parade - sponsored by First Choice America Community Credit Union, Tri-State Audiology, West Virginia Northern Community College and Weirton Medical Center - will follow Main Street beginning at 6 p.m., with a live television broadcast at 6:30 p.m.
But the parade won't be the only thing going on Saturday and I hope everyone takes some time to check everything out because it is certain to be a hit.
Probably the biggest addition to the parade is a fireworks display to be set off behind Municipal Plaza within a few minutes of the parade's conclusion. Sponsored by Hancock County Savings Bank, Cattrell Companies, MedExpress and Marsh Pipe and Supply, organizers are sure the display will be a big draw.
Believe it or not, though, there apparently are some who have yet to hear about this great addition.
There's been a lot of planning going into the parade this year, and I am sure it will draw in a big crowd.
That's not all going on that day, either.
The Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center will see the return of the Christmas Snow Village model train exhibit, which will be winding in and out of the building's front display window.
There also is the Christmas tree contest, which will be in the Weirton Room of the Millsop Community Center. This has become an annual event, during which residents can pay $1 to vote on their favorite tree. Trees have been decorated by area non-profits and civic organizations.
The Weirton United Way will provide a chance for children of all ages to get their picture taken with Santa Claus. Also in the community center's Weirton Room, anyone can get their photo taken with the guy in red, with a donation of $5 per picture.
The Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau has organized a craft fair at the community center, with approximately a dozen vendors set to show off some of their crafts and other products.
It also has been announced there will be a charity collection taking place on Saturday to benefit three local organizations. The collection will take place at the Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home and has been organized by the funeral home and Wine and Beverage Merchants to help out the Weirton Christian Center, the Salvation Army and the Community Bread Basket.
Christmas is a time of giving and thinking about others, after all, so what better time to reach out and help those who need it.
I've also been told there will be various food and beverage vendors lined up along Main Street throughout the day, and some businesses may even offer a few extra treats for those wishing to spend their afternoon downtown.
There are going to be some traffic restrictions this year, with no parking on Main Street after noon and no traffic allowed along Main Street between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. I've been told, however, there will be plenty of parking available, including at the Weirton Event Center, and residents are being encouraged to come downtown early to take in as much of the festivities as possible before the parade even begins.
I was able to see first-hand how big of a crowd there was last year when the parade was first held at night.
I also saw some of the parking and traffic difficulties before and after the parade.
There were some complaints as a result, and organizers are hoping to have all of those problems under control as much as possible this year, but they are encouraging people to arrive early.
There will be plenty to do, and this could even be the start of something really great for the community.
I often hear people say there isn't much to do in the area. Well, here is something to do on Saturday, and it looks to be bigger and better than ever before.
I hope to see all of Weirton and even some of our neighboring communities take some time Saturday to come down and check out what all of these groups and organizations have put together for the benefit of our local residents.
This is a wonderful time of the year, full of giving, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying what we have in our homes and communities.
So come on our and celebrate.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)