There's a big twist for this year's Welcome Santa Parade route, but all roads still lead to Lock 3 as the center of downtown Akron's holiday kickoff weekend.

Saturday's parade, which steps off at 10 a.m., will follow a new course because of ongoing road construction.

More than 75 units including floats, costumed characters, marching bands, dance groups and area organizations will travel along West Bowery Street starting at West Exchange Street. The parade will make a right turn onto South Main Street, where the judges' stage awaits before winding down at University Avenue in front of Lock 3.

Afterward, the park will host holiday activities including visits with Santa and a short show "starring some classic princes and princesses," according to a city news release.

Parade spectators can line up along Bowery Street (between Exchange Street and Main Street) or Main Street (between Bowery and University Avenue) and are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets for the event, which will take place rain, snow or shine.

Access to West Bowery from Water Street to West Exchange will be closed during lineup Saturday from 8 a.m. until about 10:45 a.m., and the parade route will be closed to traffic from 9:45 a.m. to approximately 11 a.m.

Organizers are set to announce "a special new surprise event" during Friday's night's opening celebration and lighting of the city's official tree at Lock 3.

Ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m., with free hot chocolate and cookie decorating, carol singers, fireworks, make-and-take ornaments, demos by the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), letter-writing to Santa and visits with Rudolph and friends.

Also Friday evening, the University of Akron will throw the switch on its new colored lights on the downtown Polsky Building — setting the night aglow for visitors enjoying the holiday window displays along Main Street. 

On Sunday, Lock 3 visitors can enjoy Lunch with Santa from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Event admission ($15 per child, $10 per adult) includes lunch, entrance to the Akron Children's Museum, ice skating and skate rental, indoor Polar Putt-Putt, and photo opportunities with Santa and costumed characters. Tickets can be purchased at https://tinyurl.com/akrsantalunch18.

New attractions this year include a cube maze and arcade games. And Lock 3 has a lineup of winter fun planned through Groundhog Day and beyond, including:

• Dec. 1: Disco Down. A whole day of disco tunes, with a DJ spinning starting at 6 p.m.

• Dec. 8: Blues, Brew and Bad Sweaters, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Music, ugly holiday sweaters, craft brew samples, food and silent auction. Tickets are $20.

• Dec. 15 and 22: Breakfast with Santa, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tickets $15 per child, $10 per adult.

• Dec. 15: Third annual Elfcon, 5 to 9 p.m. Free screening of "Elf" with drinks, candy, candy corn, candy canes and maple syrup. (It's an "Elf" thing.) Spaghetti eating contest and prize giveaway for best costume.

• Dec. 21: "Nightmare Before Christmas," 6 to 10 p.m. Free screening of film, drink specials, pumpkins and Christmas lights.

• Jan. 5: Skating to the ’80s, 6 p.m.

• Jan. 12: 4th Annual Cottage Crawl beer festival, 1 to 6 p.m.

• Jan. 26-27: Superhero & Princess Weekend, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets $15 per child, $10 per adult.

• Feb. 2: Totally ’90s skating, 6 p.m.

• Feb. 9-10: Gone to the Dogs Weekend, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets $15 per child, $10 per adult.

For more information about events, go to lock3live.com.