Strawberry Fest will celebrate Santa on June 9-10

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2023 at 9:57 am

Bronze statue in honor of Charles W. Howard to be dedicated June 10; more parade entries sought

Photo by Tom Rivers: The concrete footer that will be the base for a new bronze statue was poured in early May at Waterman Park on North Main Street. A bronze statue looking like Santa Claus will be dedicated after  the parade on June 10 at approximately 11:30 a.m. The 24-foot-long mural of Santa in flight over downtown Albion was created by Albion native Stacey Kirby Steward in 2018.

ALBION – The upcoming 35th anniversary Strawberry Festival has a theme “Here Comes Santa!” The festival committee wants to celebrate the dedication of a bronze statue of Santa Claus.

The Albion betterment Committee has been raising money for the statue for about a decade. It will be dedicated after the parade on June 10 at about 11:30 a.m.

The statue is in honor of the late Charles W. Howard, who ran a Santa school in Albion from 1937 to 1966 and also operated Christmas Park. Howard is revered in the Santa community and a school still bears his name in Midland, Mich. that trains people portraying Santa Claus.

The Albion Betterment Committee encourages people, especially in the parade, to wear Santa hats, elf costumes or other Christmas costumes.

Participants in the Strawberry Festival 5k/8k will be giving Santa hats for the race at 8 a.m. on June 10 and the shirt for the race has a Santa and strawberry design. Click here for more on the race.

June Persia, the festival chairperson, said the event is coming together and will include some changes due to the Main Street lift bridge being out of service for a major rehabilitation project.

The parade route will end by turning onto West Bank Street, instead of crossing the bridge. With the bridge out of commission, that has allowed organizers to use part of North Main Street for some activities.

The section from Bank Street to Beaver Alley will host a cornhole tournament on Friday evening, June 9. There also will be alcohol available in a wine and beer tent in an event organized by Dubby’s Tailgate.

Persia said the festival mainstays will be back with about 60 craft vendors signed up so far, a full food court, a classic car show and a lineup of bands and entertainment.

She welcomes more floats and entries in the parade that starts at 10 a.m. on June 10. Those floats are needed to space out the marching bands and other musicians in the parade. For more information about being in the parade, reach out to Persia at 585-704-1994.

The “amazing turtle race,” which features 1,000 rubber turtles floating on the Erie Canal, will have a different starting point. The turtles are usually launched from the Main Street lift bridge. This time they will be let go from a Sheriff’s boat.

“I’m looking to bring the community together and to welcome people from outside Albion to see what our village is really about,” Persia said. “This has been a very successful event in the village. We want to see it grow.”