City set to welcome Santa, light local tree

All aboard!
Photo courtesy of the city of Southgate
Courtesy of Great Lakes Steamers Live, the “Santa Express” will board passengers at Kiwanis Park beginning at 5 p.m. Friday. Mayor Joseph Kuspa said the relatively new event is quickly becoming a community staple

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE — Linking a civic tree lighting with Great Lakes Steamers’ “Santa Express” train ride is a relatively recent marriage, yet Mayor Joseph Kuspa said the combination already feels like a familiar mainstay for the holidays.

“It really is becoming a community event,” Kuspa said of Friday’s scheduled activities. As was the case last year, Kuspa will be on hand to present Santa Claus with a key to the city upon arrival at Kiwanis Park — Trenton Road and Leroy. The ceremony scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, includes the lighting of the municipal Christmas tree, followed by the first seasonal rides aboard the “Santa Express,” courtesy of Great Lakes Live Steamers on miniature trains.

“We started those new traditions last year,” Kuspa said. “It went very, very well and we’re looking forward to this year.”

The park will greet the season with carolers, Santa collecting lists and posing for photos, and the Salvation Army providing hot chocolate. Kuspa said the growing event includes support from the Key Club and National Honor Society.

Santa Express train rides will continue Saturday. Friday’s activities continue from 8 to 10 p.m. with the Mitten Tree Open Skate at the Southgate Civic Center Ice Arena. Skaters are asked to donate gloves and mittens, which will be distributed by local organizations to those in need, and will receive $1 off admission and free skate rental.

On Friday and Saturday a holiday arts and crafts fair will be held at nearby Asher School, 14101 Leroy.

Kuspa said he and his wife will be on hand as they were last year to greet visitors.

“It’s nice to see families returning and making it a tradition,” Kuspa said.

For more information go to the city’s web site,

(James Mitchell can be reached at