Holiday festival hits Kiwanis Park

Photo courtesy of the city of Southgate
The Jolly Old Elf leads the way at the Santa Express Train Ride through Kiwanis Park. The seasonal attraction courtesy of Great Lakes Live Steamers joins a full lineup of events on Winter Wonderland Weekend.

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE — Piece by piece, the city is putting together the start of a holiday tradition now called Winter Wonderland Weekend.

For the third year the Santa Express train rides courtesy of Great Lakes Live Steamers will transport young visitors through Kiwanis Park (Trenton Road and Leroy), with special passenger Santa Claus ready to collect holiday wish lists.

As a community attraction, events surrounding the Santa Express continue to grow. City Administrator Brandon Fournier said the idea of calling last year’s event Southgate Winterfest never materialized, but instead evolved into the Winter Wonderland Weekend beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and continuing through Saturday.

For openers at 5 p.m. Friday Southgate Mayor Joseph Kuspa will light the municipal Christmas tree and present Santa with a key to the city.

The colorfully lighted park will then host a live ice carving demonstration, with master carvers from Frozen Images going to work on blocks of ice. Finished works will decorate the park along the Santa Express track.

At the Children’s Activity Center, the Asher School hosts a warming station and will present live musical performances courtesy of the Southgate Community Players while visitors take a break and enjoy some hot chocolate courtesy of the Downriver Salvation Army and Southgate Kiwanis Club.

Now a tradition, the Santa Christmas Express train rides run from 5 to 8 p.m., and ends with photo opportunities. Great Lakes Live Steamers President Cary Polaski said the partnership with the city worked well the first two years, and that the surrounding events grew from the train ride attraction.

Along with the activities in Kiwanis Park, the holiday spirit in Southgate includes the Community Players performance of “A Christmas Carol” at Davidson Middle School, 15800 Trenton Road. Show times are 7 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15, and 2 p.m. Dec. 15. For ticket information go to

Also keeping in the seasonal spirit is the chance to Ice Skate with Santa from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Southgate Ice Arena, 14700 Reaume Parkway.

(James Mitchell can be reached at