WARREN - Main Street Warren is turning the city's annual tree-lighting ceremony into a day-long festival.
''Christmas Time in the City'' on Dec. 5 will feature activities designed to make the event appeal to a wider demographic than families with younger children, the primary target audience for past events.
Jennifer Campbell, promotions director for Main Street Warren, said, ''We want to grow the event, showcase Warren merchants and bring people downtown.''
One of the first changes necessary was moving the event to a Saturday instead of a Friday, which is when the tree lighting was scheduled in the past. With ceremonies starting at 5 p.m., it was too early for many working families to make it downtown, Campbell said. And because it gets dark early this time of year, it was too late for those who prefer not to go out at night.
By moving the event to Saturday, there will be fewer work conflicts, and there will be more activities in the afternoon.
Daytime activities include an arts and crafts tent in Courthouse Square where children can make their own items from 3 to 8 p.m., live entertainment in the Square from 3 to 8 p.m. and a fine arts and craft show from noon to 8 p.m. at Trumbull Art Gallery.
TAG artists also will decorate trees in Courthouse Square using different Christmas carols for inspiration. And the Hippodrome Ballroom on High Street N.E. will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. for a ballroom bounce party, where children can jump around inside inflatable bounce houses.
Local businesses will be open during the event, including some that normally are closed on Saturdays like the Saratoga Restaurant. Owner James Economos said the restaurant will display vintage photos of the city in its banquet room during the event.
''It's a good idea to bring people downtown to see our town,'' Economos said.
To bring customers into the stores, Main Street Warren is offering a Cookie Crawl. For $5 folks can purchase a ticket that they can take to a dozen downtown businesses and receive a different Christmas cookie at each one. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling Campbell at 330-219-9819.
The tree lighting ceremony and the arrival of Santa Claus will remain at 5 p.m., and all four choirs from Warren G. Harding High School will perform in Courthouse Square starting at 6 p.m.
Children can share their wish lists with Santa in the Log Cabin from 5 to 8 p.m., the Mocha House will feature live music starting at 7:30 p.m. and First Presbyterian Church will have a Christmas concert with its choir and bell choir starting at 8 p.m.