The city of Meridian and downtown businesses will host holiday events through December.

One of the season’s biggest events is the Winter Lights Parade on Dec. 1. After the parade, Meridian will light up its Christmas tree in Generations Plaza. The tree was donated by Billie Bowles, a city volunteer who greets visitors at the lobby reception desk in Meridian City Hall, according to a Facebook post from Meridian Parks and Recreation.

Other highlights on the holiday events calendar are:

Santa’s Mailbox (Nov. 22 – Dec. 18)

Drop off a letter to Santa at Santa’s Mailbox and get a personal response. Letters delivered to the mailbox by Dec. 18 will receive a response before Christmas. The box is located on the outdoor plaza of Meridian City Hall, 33 E. Broadway Ave.

Candy Cane Fun Run (6:15 p.m. Dec. 1)

Start a new holiday tradition that is both fun and fit. The Candy Cane Fun Run, produced by The Pulse Running and Fitness, will lead the parade and run the route ending at Meridian Community Center. The distance is one mile, so even the youngest ones can participate. Sign up early for $5 and receive a string of wearable lights.

Winter Lights Parade and tree lighting (6:30-8 p.m. Dec. 1)

The parade starts at Meridian City Hall, travels down Main Street to Carlton Avenue, and circles back on Second Street, ending at Broadway Avenue.

This year’s Grand Marshal is Dan Clark, who will lead the parade in a horse-drawn carriage. Clark is the founder and executive director of the Meridian Food Bank, which opened in 1999. More than 50,120 individuals were served in 2016, and the food bank’s backpack program sent almost 19,000 food packs home with youth in the West Ada School District, according to the city of Meridian.

The parade will feature marching bands and more than 50 floats. School officials nominated a fifth-grader to “flip the switch” and light the Meridian Christmas tree and help Santa set off fireworks to celebrate the season.

Businesses and organizations will offer free hot cocoa throughout the parade route. Stick around after the tree lighting for free horse-drawn carriage rides.

”How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (5:30 and 6 p.m. Dec. 1)

The movie will play outside at the corner of Idaho Avenue and Main Street.

Downtown Lights Business Decorating Contest (Dec. 1-24)

Meridian’s downtown businesses compete for best indoor display, best outside lights and the People’s Choice awards in the annual Meridian Downtown Business Decorating Contest. Christmas revelers can visit each business and vote for their favorite Dec. 1-9. Maps listing the business locations will be available during the parade and tree lighting and at meridiancity.org/christmas.

The People’s Choice winner will be announced December 11. Shoppers can view the winning displays all season long.

Twilight Christmas Market (12-8 p.m. Dec. 7)

The event in Meridian City Hall features more than 30 vendors displaying hand-crafted arts. Admission and parking are free. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Children’s Winterland Festival (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9)

Bring your kids to the Children’s Winterland Festival at the Meridian Boys and Girls Club, 911 N. Meridian Road, for pictures with Santa, cookie decorating, trolley rides and Christmas craft projects. Admission is free with a can of food or a cash donation for the Meridian Food Bank. For a list of suggested holiday food donation needs, visit meridianfoodbank.org.

Learn more at meridiancity.org/christmas. Christmas in Meridian sponsors include Borton Lakey Law & Policy, Mountain America Credit Union, All American Insurance, Idaho Independent Bank, 94.9 the River and KHITS.

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