100,000 lights, hot air balloons part of Royal Oak holiday events

The main event for holiday festivities in downtown Royal Oak this season is a two-day festival with hot air balloons, horse-drawn carriages and ice carvings.

“We’ll have Santa here, a small train for kids to ride, vendors and live music,” said Sean Kammer, manager of the Downtown Development Authority that sponsors the event. “We wanted to do something original and we think this is a unique event for this area.”

The Royal Oak Holiday Glow! Festival is set for Dec. 7-8 and is a new effort by the DDA to attract people to spend more time in the downtown.

Thousands of people are expected to gather to watch three, eight-story tall hot air balloons glow and illuminate the downtown on Washington between Fifth and Seventh streets.

Though the balloons will remain tethered, pilots will welcome children to look into the baskets and pull a rope that fires the burners’ flames.

A 7,200-square-foot heated and enclosed tent will offer holiday gifts for sale from local crafters, live music and beverages.

Ice carvers will render a life-size sleigh and reindeer on both days of the festival. Santa and Mrs. Claus will pose for pictures with children and two live reindeer will also be on hand.

Tickets must be purchased online, in advance, for carriage and wagon rides, also for the Cookie Crawl; at HolidayGlowRO.com.

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