Classic Park to Host Inaugural Holiday Lighting Event Saturday, December 6

It seems that Santa will be coming early this year to Eastlake, Ohio, thanks to the Lake County Captains and Classic Park.

On Saturday, December 6, Classic Park will host the inaugural Classic Park Holiday Lights and Fireworks Show from 6 p.m to 8 p.m.

The event, which is open to the Lake County community, will feature a number of holiday events and activities and is free to those who want to attend. The entire event was funded by the Captains, Captains Charities, and a few sponsors through donations, with no public funding being needed from the city of Eastlake or Willowick.

Traditionally, the Captains host a Santa and Skipper breakfast event at Classic Park for their season ticket holders. “Every year, it’s been the same nice event,” the Captains’ Director of Finance, Rob Demko said. “This year, Jen [Yorko, Captains’ Director of Ticketing and Merchandise] had the idea of holding a community event that all of Lake County could attend.”

“The staff agreed that our breakfast event has become stale and we needed a makeover,” Demko said. Thus, the Holiday Lights and Fireworks Show was born.

Demko said that Yorko has taken the lead on the event, finding a 15-foot tree for the ballpark to be decorated and organizing the decorating of Classic Park. She also organized the local schools and church choir groups that are going to perform during the event.

“[Jen] has done a great job putting the event together,” Demko said.

Along with the decorated Christmas tree, attendees will pass other holiday decorations as they enter the ballpark through the main gates. Inside the stadium, an arts and crafts station will be set up for children to decorate their own Christmas ornaments and Skipper, Santa, and Mrs. Claus will all arrive at the ballpark onboard City of Eastlake and City of Willowick firetrucks to take photos with attendees. Among the other free events, the Captains will also provide complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, snacks, and other beverages while the supplies last.

The school and church groups that Yorko organized will be caroling throughout the event, and additional holiday music and entertainment will be broadcast on the Captains’ video board.

In the Captains’ press release for the event, General Manager Brad Seymour said that the Captains’ expect the community to respond favorably to the new holiday event.

“Given the response that we receive each year with the free community Independence Day fireworks show that we host for both cities, we expect that the response will be just as positive for this unique holiday event,” Seymour said. “We are very excited to provide this experience for residents of Eastlake and Willowick and open up Classic Park at this time of year to enjoy the holidays.”

Loyal Captains’ fans are already excited about the holiday lights and fireworks show, as are their children. Tom Nichols, who attends nearly every Captains’ game with his son, Bryson, said the two are already gearing up for the event on Saturday.

“My son would never let me miss an event at Classic Park,” Nichols said. “The Captains are his favorite team. Any chance to spend time [at the stadium] is a must. Plus, he gets to see Santa, Skipper, and make ornaments. He’s been excited ever since I told him about it.”

Howard Fisher said his family is equally as excited. “My wife and I will be there Saturday night,” Fisher said. “I think it will be a good turn out.” Fisher, whose son is a ticket representative with the Captains, added that if the event is as good as what he and his wife have been hearing about, it should leave a positive impact on the crowd.

Baseball fans have not had a large, local holiday event at a ballpark since the 2011-2012 season, which marked the final season of the Indians’ Snow Days event at Progressive Field. The organization chose not to bring Snow Days back during the 2012 winter after a disappointing turnout during the previous season, which marked the warmest winter on record for Cleveland. Snow Days at Progressive Field included inner tubes that slid from the stands to the ground, ice skating, and hockey games, along with other winter activities.

The Indians also ceased to continue their off-season Friday’s at the Ballpark event in 2013, which, despite not being a holiday event, was still a sought-after off-season festivity for fans.

None of the Indians other minor league affiliates are hosting holiday events, though they are all offering holiday deals on their team merchandise.

As the Captains put the finishing touches on their inaugural holiday events, they are hoping for community support to encourage similar events to be held in the future.

“Our fans can expect more events of these kinds in the future if this event is supported,” Demko said. “If we see participation and our fans let us know they enjoy the event, there is a great chance [more] will be held in the future.”

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