Celebration set tonight to begin holiday toy drive

TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - It's beginning to look---and sound---like Christmas!

If you are ready to get in the holiday spirit by singing Christmas carols, there's an event tonight you won't want to miss. It all begins at 5:00pm with Santa Claus, food trucks Imagination Station and 13abc Action News anchors on location at Promenade Park in downtown Toledo. Underneath a towering new 65-foot Christmas tree, the inaugural "Hope for the Holidays Celebration" begins the holiday season.

Sing your favorite carols along with the Woodward High School choir and the Masterworks Chorale beginning at 7:00pm. Song books will be available.

The jolly old elf will be on hand from 5:00pm until 7:30pm at a tent decorated by Bartz-Viviano to meet and visit with children and give out free candy canes. Food is available for purchase from food truck vendors who will line Summit Street next to the park also from 5:00pm until 7:30pm.

The new tree at Promenade Park provided by ProMedica will be lit with 100-thousand lights as will 200-thousand lights at nearby Hensville and St. Clair Street. "It's an exciting time as we're celebrating our first holiday season in downtown Toledo and taking part in new traditions and celebrations" said ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra. "We're looking forward to our community celebrating together while supporting great organizations."

The 7:00pm concert will be televised live by 13abc during a “Hope for the Holidays Celebration” special. In addition, 13abc will anchor the evening news live t from Promenade Park and Hensville at 5:00pm and 6:00pm to kick off the annual Hope for the Holidays toy drive.

The public is invited to bring toys to the event that will be collected by the Salvation Army and members of the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Tents and warming stations will be provided in case the weather is chilly. Imagination Station will provide live demonstrations during the event. "Service, collaboration and compassion are among the values of the Imagination Station team members" said Lori Hauser, Imagination Station Chief Executive Officer. "What better way to demonstrate those values than to partner with 13abc and others to make a difference in our community? We are excited to be a part of the Hope for the Holidays Celebration and to support children and families in the Toledo area."

Food trucks will include Rosie's Rolling Chef, Jeanies Comfort Cusine and The Displaced Chef.

13abc’s Hope for the Holidays campaign begins on Friday, November 17 and continues through December 15. More than 113,000 toys have been donated to local children since it began in 2011. The campaign benefits the Salvation Army and U.S. Marine Corps Reserves “Toys for Tots” program. The Salvation Army is the coordinating agency for distribution of toys to area children. Last year, more than 25,000 toys were collected.

Hope for the Holidays partners include Vito’s Pizza; Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer; Arnolds Home Improvement and Dave White Chevrolet and Acura and Jim White Toyota. New, unwrapped toys will be accepted during the campaign at various locations listed at 13abc.com.

On Friday, December 8, the annual “Hope for the Holidays Drive Through Bash” will be held all day at three locations in Northwest Ohio. 13abc will broadcast from all three venues all day beginning at 5:00am through 6:30pm. Those wishing to donate toys can drive through 13abc’s parking lot and receive a free piece of pizza and be entertained by choirs, bands, mascots and more. Additional locations will be located in Bowling Green and Findlay. Details will be announced later.