Holly — On Friday, Nov. 29, visitors experienced the triumphant start to Holly Dickens Festival that residents have come to expect.

 Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Executive Director Katy Golden estimates 1,500 people filled downtown under the clear sky and crisp air.

 Visitors experienced the lighted parade, Santa Claus’ entrance, Holly Area Chamber of Commerce’s “People of the Year” and tree lighting, all without a hitch. The first festival day was Saturday, Nov. 30.

 While all appeared seamless, organizers had to troubleshoot a few problems before anything started.

 The main event tents located in Crapo Park near the train tracks blew away Wednesday, Nov. 27. Not only were they destroyed, the tent company, Dial Tent out of Flint, didn’t have a replacement.

 Organizers had to quickly move the Santa’s Village and vendor area to the former fire station on Maple Street.

 Santa and Mrs. Claus were transported through the parade via a Holly Fire Department ladder truck and in dramatic fashion, swung over the crowd and into the air and back down to walk to the stage.

 This was the backup plan, said festival director George Kullis. Ken McKay, who was supposed to bring them in with a horse-drawn carriage, was unable to participate. Again, organizers had to adapt.

 The festival returns this weekend. Go to hollydickensfestival.org for more information.

2019 Award Recipients

 The Holly chamber announces the family, person, organization and business of the year at the annual parade. Executive Director Richard Kinnamon makes the announcements.

 “Family of the Year” is the Senton family of Davisburg. Kinnamon said the Senton family is in the spotlight because of Liam Senton, 8, who became “Super Can Man” through his can drives starting in 2017 at age 5.

 Kinnamon pointed out though, that the whole family serves in different ways behind the scenes. Parents Michelle and Bill Senton were on stage with Liam, Calvin, 16, and Alec, who is a marine visiting from active duty.

 The Senton family wasn’t even planning to come to the event. Alec’s plane was set to arrive in the evening.

 They planned to pick him up as a family, except they received heavy hints that someone should be present for the announcements, so they planned to send one half to pick up Alec while the other attended the event.

 In a large stroke of luck, his plane arrived just on time for the whole family to stand on stage.

 The “Person of the Year” is Jerome Raska. Raska and partner Robbin Yelverton currently own three businesses in Holly. BLUMZ, Holly Antiques and Creative Fashion.

 Aside from a deep portfolio of business experience, Raska and Yelverton have filled many local requests for sponsorships. “They have added greatly to the funding for the Dickens Festival,” Kinnamon said. They were a platinum sponsor for the DDA’s Ladies Night Out.

 The “Organization of the Year” is Holly Kiwanis. Kinnamon said The Holly Kiwanis Club is in its 79th year, adding that the Kiwanis is about community service, particularly in regard to children and in-need citizens of our community.

 The “Business of the Year” is Holly Vault. The shop is owned by Cari Cucksey of reality TV show “Cash & Cari.” Cucksey took to the stage with her husband, Vince Lafano, and their daughter, Orion, 3½. The pair not only own The Vault, but several properties around the village including a nearby 110-year-old chapel and a carriage house on Holly Road near I-75. 

They've hosted fundraisers for Holly Academy, Shop With A Cop, Blessings In a Backpack and more.  They also collaborated with Raska and Yelverton from Blumz and held a few fundraising events at The Holly Vault to raise money for The Dickens Festival entertainment.

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