The holiday season will be longer than usual in Akron this year.
Akron will keep its popular ice skating rink at Lock 3 open until the end of February, rather than through January. The city has sponsors, including the Akron RubberDucks, the city’s minor-league baseball team, that will host activities each weekend in February.
“In celebration of 10 great years of ice skating in Akron, and with the support of our sponsors, we are excited to be able to extend our season into February,” said Tish Jernigan, the Lock 3 manager.
The city kicked off the start of the holiday season Tuesday, with the installation of its holiday tree, a 30-foot-tall blue spruce. Robin and Gary Compton of Hilbish Avenue donated the tree, which was a family Christmas tree from 25 years ago that they planted beside their driveway.
Robin Compton said the tree had a disease and was likely going to need to be taken down anyway.
“I feel good that a lot of people will see the tree and see it lit and enjoy it,” she said. “I’m honored they chose our tree.”
The city issued a news release Thursday with details about its holiday festivities, which are scheduled to kick off this weekend and the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Akron won’t debut any major new attractions this year, although Archie the Talking Snowman, which made his first appearance at Lock 3 last year, will return, as will other activities people have come to expect, including a 150-foot sledding hill, tree lighting ceremony with fireworks, and a parade.
The ice skating rink is scheduled to open at 3 p.m. today. Reindeer Run, the sledding hill, will open Nov. 29 and also will remain open into February.
Archie the Talking Snowman, a popular holiday attraction at Chapel Hill Mall for 15 years, was brought out of retirement last year after a legion of Facebook fans called for his return. Ra’us Umana, an Akron resident who designed and built the giant snowman for Chapel Hill Mall, redesigned and built an 18-foot-tall Archie last year in the basement of the former O’Neil’s department store next to Lock 3. Archie will premier this year on Nov. 23.
Akron received $89,000 from corporate sponsors for its holiday festivities this year, including FirstMerit Bank and Chapel Hill Mall. The city, which makes enough from skate and sled rentals to cover employee costs, will chip in about $100,000, Jernigan said.
The Peacemakers, the Akron RubberDucks, the Village Network and the Lebron James Family Foundation will provide events and activities during three sponsored weekends in February. Details of the events will be announced later, according to the Lock 3 website.
Other highlights of the city’s holiday lineup include:
• Tree lighting ceremony: 7 p.m. Nov. 29 at Lock 3. It will include a fireworks and pyrotechnics show.
• Welcome Santa Parade: 11 a.m. Nov. 30 on Main Street.
• Holiday market at Lock 3: Featuring local artisans and German craftsmen. Will begin Nov. 29 and will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the end of the year.