There’s no place like Chagrin for the holidays


Photo of Christmas tree display at the Chagrin Falls Historical Society. The tree features ornaments and presents that a child living in Chagrin during the 1920s would have received for Christmas. Photo by staff writer Julia Ashkettle.

As the first snow of the season begins to fall, the town of Chagrin Falls has started preparing for a holiday season full of fun, community, and peace. Every year, holiday traditions in Chagrin bring many high school alumni and past community members into the town to celebrate the various events that take place during this time. 

“There are usually only two times per year where past residents of Chagrin come home to visit their families,” said John Liber, President of the Chagrin Valley Jaycees. 

“Obviously there is Blossom, but also the holiday season because of all of the fun activities our town has during this time of year.” 

As the leader of the Jaycees, Liber and his team work hard to make the holiday season unforgettable. 

“Beginning approximately 60-90 days before the Friday after Thanksgiving, we go through all components that we have, such as light fixtures and equipment for the decorations,” Liber said. 

“For the past 30 or 45 days, we have spent an hour or two every Wednesday going through thousands of feet of cable and light bulbs, replacing light bulbs that don’t work.” 

“Basically, if you’ve ever helped decorate for your Christmas, multiply that times probably 500.” 

Since 1961, the volunteer group has put in hours and hours of time and effort into making the town shine. 

 “We purchased 185 pine trees, 1,000 yards of ribbon, and we used 8,000 zip ties,” added Liber. 

“And this year, because of a generous donation from the Barr family, we now have 30,000 brand new LED lights and cables.” 

The process of actually setting the decorations up takes lots of time and commitment. 

“The week before Thanksgiving, we prepare our decorations,” Liber explained. “It takes us between 6-8 hours to set everything up.” 

CFHS senior Julian Sesee’s parents are both Jaycees, and his family has helped decorate the town for many years. 

“This year, I set up the garland on top of Town Hall and the stairs leading down to the falls. I also helped put some trees up on Grove Hill,” said Seese. 

The Friday after Thanksgiving is the Lighting of the Greens, a town event where the community gets together to watch the big tree in Triangle Park glow with light for the first time that year, marking the beginning of the holiday season. 

Liber states that his favorite part of the season is the lighting. 

“The Friday after Thanksgiving is when everybody comes back to town,” said Liber. 
“The weather is usually pretty good; you get people out of their houses after a busy and fulfilling Thanksgiving day.” 

Mayor of Chagrin Falls Bill Tomko agrees with Liber, stating that the lighting is truly unforgettable. 

“Some of my earliest and favorite Christmas memories are being there in Triangle Park for the lighting,” said Tomko. “There is a certain coming together that only a small town like Chagrin can do to kick off the holidays.” 

Tomko states that this coming together is also important for the merchants of Chagrin, as the town promotes shopping locally during the holiday season. He also explains that there is so much history that goes into making the town so special during this time of year. 

“The star that’s currently on the top of the tree used to be strung across the top of Grove Hill,” said Tomko. “It stood as a star shining over the town, which was kind of neat.” 

John Bourisseau, President of the Board of Trustees at the Chagrin Historical Society, believes that the history of Christmastime in Chagrin is truly special. When asked what word reminds him of Christmastime in Chagrin, John responded with “Family”. 

“If you look in newspapers from the past, although some things have changed, being family oriented has always been a big part of Christmastime in Chagrin,” said Bourisseau. 

He added that organizations such as the local churches continue the tradition of supporting the holiday season. 

Bourisseau went on to explain the importance of Chagrin’s traditions during the holiday season. 

“It really helps you have a sense of place. Spending time with your family during the holidays is a very important value to have,” said Bourisseau.“Chagrin’s traditions during this time of the year really encourages that sense of togetherness.”