ASHLAND − A pair of soldiers will be defending the downtown area during the city's annual Christmas parade on Dec. 3.
The guards will stand an ominous 16.5-feet tall, according to Mayor Matt Miller.
"They came from Portugal," Miller said. "They were the largest ones we could find."
The parade begins at 6 p.m. Saturday. Celebrations are to follow about 7 p.m.
The night's theme is What does Christmas mean to me?
Toy soldiers will guard the downtown
The city's Christmas decorations were bolstered over the past year, thanks to a generous private donation from Dick and Ronda Poorbaugh, the owners of Grandpa's Cheesebarn.
The couple had already purchased a large wreath for display downtown, as well as the Christmas bulb sculpture famously located at Foundation Plaza.
"And they provided the life-sized Nativity scene down at Bicentennial Park," Miller said.
The toy soldiers are a unique addition to the city's Christmas decorations that the mayor touts as unlike anything else in North Central Ohio.
"The toy soldiers will be on either side of the new arch down by Union Street," Miller said. "Those toy soldiers will be guarding the entrance into our historic downtown."
They are made of fiberglass and are considered to be sturdy.
"They're very heavy," Miller said. "They're wonderful."
City will come to life with holiday spirit
The city acquired the toy soldiers over the summer, and have been learning how to install them.
"They came in multiple pieces," Miller explained.
Decorations are being placed throughout the city all week. Every light pole downtown will be decked with garland, as usual, and now there will be even more.
"This year we will be installing lighted garland across Main Street with four-foot-round wreaths in the middle," Miller said.
There will be six wreaths spread equally from Union Street to Claremont Avenue.
The mayor hopes to close off a portion of the downtown at some point this holiday season to give families a chance to take photos.
"With all these exciting new Christmas decorations, we believe we will have a lot of visitors in Ashland to check our festive holiday spirit," Miller said.
Parade kicks off the Christmas season
The city's parade will begin at Ashland University, according to Sandra Hedlund Tunnell, executive director of Ashland Main Street.
The event is sponsored by the Ashland Evening Lions Club.
The route will go down Clermont Avenue to Corner Park, then down Main Street and will end under the arches and next to the toy soldiers at Union Street.
There will be about 75 floats in this year's parade. Everyone is invited to stay for the tree lighting and fireworks show immediately after.
"It is one of the most fun events we do," Tunnell said. "People like to show up and enjoy themselves because it kicks off the Christmas season."
This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Toy soldiers ready to stand guard in Ashland for Christmas 2022