Massillon Community Candlelight Walk
Massillon’s Community Candlelight Walk returns this year on Sunday, December 3. Free and open to everyone, the event is a self-guided stroll through downtown Massillon among luminarias and Christmas lights to visit nine historic churches, six community attractions, and candlelight along historic Fourth Street.
Churches—four of them on the National Register—and venues will be open from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Guests can pick up a brochure wherever they start. Each stop is marked with a colorful yard sign by the entrance door. Walkers can choose their own route and set their own pace. The brochure includes a map of the event and the addresses of all participating churches and venues. Guests can park for free anywhere along the route and they need not visit every location.
“Walkers stop into churches to appreciate the architecture and stay for just a minute or for several musical selections, at their own discretion,” says Margy Vogt, event chair. “Performers, clergy, and volunteers understand that walkers need to keep moving if they hope to visit all the participating churches and attractions!”
“Where else can you hear festive music—some performed by people you know, see stunning Tiffany windows, share Christmas spirit, show your grandchildren a massive model railroad, view luminescent Greek Orthodox icons, recognize an exceptional community leader, and sing along with the Washington High School choir—all on one heartwarming evening?” Vogt asks.
Walkers can enjoy choral and instrumental music and beautiful architecture at St. John’s United Church of Christ, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church, First United Methodist Church, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Central Presbyterian Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, and St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. Some churches intersperse storytelling and brief church history with the music.
In the heart of downtown Massillon, a National Register district, walkers can enjoy lighted holiday wreaths that volunteer Rudy Turkal designed to line Lincoln Way as well as the Downtown Massillon Association’s Christmas display at Duncan Plaza. Look up to see the colored lights at the top of downtown’s historic buildings.
The warming and refreshment station at the Massillon Museum will be open from 5:00 to 7:30, where the Northwest (High School) Singers will perform periodically.
Massillon Railroad Club will have its O-gauge trains roaring around the tracks to fascinate young and old. The display is located in the lower level of First United Methodist Church, accessed from the outside by a door on Third Street SE.
Walkers can enjoy live entertainment in the lobby of the Lions Lincoln Theatre. They can ascend the grand front walkway of Massillon Public Library to find an instrumental duo performing in the impressive rotunda.
When savoring Fourth Street—the historic brick street lit by 900 luminarias—participants can pause halfway to visit the stunning stone Five Oaks in its holiday splendor—home to Massillon Woman’s Club. The neighborhood is a National Register district and the mansion is a National Register site.
The focus of the evening turns to St. Mary’s Church at 7:45 p.m. for the Festival of Music and Candlelighting Ceremony—honoring a person who has made Massillon a better place during 2023. On the church lawn, before entering the church, guests can have Washington High School student volunteers take their photos with wooden Victorian characters.
Musical performances at the finale will include the 16th Street Singers under the direction of Julie Dewald, Washington High School Advanced and Select Choir directed by Kelli Riley, and the combined choirs of St. Mary’s, St. Joseph’s, and St. Barbara’s (Divine Mercy Parish) under the direction of Mark Thewes.
The committee encourages everyone to bundle up, bring friends and family, and share some old-fashioned Christmas spirit. Although the route is illuminated by street lights, in addition to luminarias along the sidewalks at most churches, some people bring flashlights.
St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church
St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church
St. George Greek Orthodox Church
St. John’s United Church of Christ
Central Presbyterian Church
Mt. Calvary Baptist Church
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
First United Methodist Church
Massillon Museum’s Gessner Hall—official refreshment and warming station
Complimentary cookies, coffee, cocoa, and tea throughout the walk
Northwest High School Singers
Massillon Public Library
Keyboard and saxophone music
Massillon Railroad Club
O-gauge trains running—many depicting lines that ran through Massillon
Enter at the back of the church on Third Street SE.
Lions Lincoln Theatre
Historic Fourth Street (road is closed to vehicular traffic)
The CHARM neighborhood association will light 900 luminarias
Five Oaks—Massillon Heritage Foundation and Massillon Woman’s Club
Live music and extravagant holiday decorations in Victorian splendor
Festival of Music and Candlelighting Ceremony
The evening finale will be held at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, where Mark Thewes will play organ holiday selections before and after the 7:45 program, which will include the ceremonial community candlelighting (honoree to be announced closer to the event) and music by the Washington High School choir and the Washingtonians directed by Kerri Riley; the combined choirs of St. Mary’s, St. Joseph’s, and St. Barbara’s churches directed by Mark Thewes; and the young Sixteenth Street Singers under the direction of Julie Dewald.
Prior to the Community Candlelight Walk (4:00 to 5:00 pm), Grace United Church of Christ will present music by the Tuslaw and Northwest show choirs. They’ll offer refreshments to fuel walkers for their trek ahead. Massillon Connections Church will present a short puppet play several times during the walk. (These two churches traditionally present performances to complement the CCW, though they are not officially part of the event.)
Loren Veigel, Kathy Shultz, Rick and Patty Dalsky, Nancy Jobe, Marsha Knouff, Debbie Busby, and Margy Vogt organize the event.
Since 1984, contributions by an individual or organization to the well-being of the community have been recognized by honoring them as the year’s community candlelighting honoree. In 2001, Loren Veigel introduced the concept of adding a church walk, which has attracted at least 2000 guests each year. He annually emcees the Festival of Music and Candlelighting Ceremony.
Aqua Ohio, Visit Canton, Massillon Eagles #190, Farmers National Bank, Home Appliance, Downtown Massillon Association, Paquelet Funeral Home, MCTV, CHARM, Matt and Ellie Hull, Buehler’s Fresh Foods, BJ’s, and Massillon WestStark Chamber of Commerce sponsor the Community Candlelight Walk.
To learn more about the event, visit the Community Candlelight Walk Facebook event page or contact Margy Vogt, chair, at 330-844-1525 or email@example.com.
Grace United Church of Christ • 933 Main Avenue West
5:00–7:30 • Music & Architecture
St. John’s United Church of Christ • 101 Tremont Avenue SE
St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church • 226 Third Street SE
St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church • 364 First Street SE
First United Methodist Church • 301 Lincoln Way East
St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church • 322 Third Street SE
Mt. Calvary Baptist Church • 27 Fourth Street NE
Central Presbyterian Church • 47 Second Street NE
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church • 127 Cherry Road NE
St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church • 206 Cherry Road NE
Official Refreshment & Warming Station
5:00–7:30 H Free Cookies, Cocoa, Coffee & Music
Massillon Museum • 121 Lincoln Way East
5:00–7:30 • Holiday Treasures
Massillon Railroad Club • 301 Lincoln Way East—Model Trains!
Massillon Public Library • 208 Lincoln Way East—Instrumental Music
Five Oaks/Massillon Woman’s Club • 210 Fourth Street NE—Holiday Splendor
Lions Lincoln Theatre • 156 Lincoln Way East • Live Entertainment
Historic Fourth Street • Brick Street Lined with Luminarias
Massillon Connections Church • 308 Erie Street South—Puppet Show
Festival of Music & Candlelighting Ceremony
St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church • 206 Cherry Road NE
Historic Fourth Street and the Five Oaks mansion