It's a magical evening each year when the lights go on in front of Midland's courthouse and, for many children and adults, the holidays begin! Every year the courthouse lighting heralds Santa's arrival and the opening of his house for visitors young and old alike.
This year the Courthouse Lighting will commence on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
Courthouse Lighting History
The tradition began in the 1930s when Mrs. Herbert H. Dow made sure that small trees decorated with many tiny lights were placed around the Midland County Courthouse each Christmas season. According to those who remember, it was truly a lovely sight.
Today the Midland Area Community Foundation continues the tradition by sponsoring, with earnings from the Gilbert and Eleanor Currie Christmas Lighting/Santa House Endowment Fund, the seasonal displays and the Santa House. Working in close cooperation with Midland County, the City of Midland, and numerous volunteers, the Foundation offers this experience as a gift to the people of the Midland area.
Before World War II (1941), the courthouse was a great deal smaller and Main Street considerably less populated. No large Methodist Church stood across the street. During those years, Mrs. Dow arranged for a display each season.
During the war years there were no lights. Beginning in the late 1940s, Gil Currie and his friend Bob Wilson, who owned a business across the street, decided it was time for a holiday display once again. Gil and Bob, men who were still children at heart, loved Christmas lights and worked to establish a tradition which is still enjoyed today.
By the 1950s, Main Street had changed and the courthouse expanded to its present size. Something unique was needed. Wally Bronner of Frankenmuth helped develop the ideas and sketched out a plan.
There were many amusing tales surrounding the creating of the first displays - the time it took three trips to the forest and three trees before one was perfect enough for the center of the "traditional" section; the building of the first gingerbread house using the Currie children's toys; and the live deer that needed companionship during the night to keep them happy. Working quietly behind the scenes was Floyd Wenglikowski who sustained the glow of lights and maintained the displays.
When the lights are turned on and the children's happy faces glow with excitement, the project is worth the hours of planning and effort. Enjoyment for the children has always been the projects main goal.
Note: for information on the upcoming Santa House season, click the link below: