MICHIGAN CITY | The city's kickoff to the holiday season returns to Franklin Street in the city's downtown for the first time in several years.
The once popular but now sparsely attended parade will remain at the lakefront, though.
If some people have their way, the parade once attended by thousands could at some point return to Franklin Street to further the momentum of a revitalizing downtown.
"I'm not going to say they are going to do it. They may be talking about it. I don't know," said City Councilman Richard Murphy.
Santa on a horse-drawn carriage will be ushered into the downtown by a police escort as part of the First Friday Art Walk, which runs from 5 to 8 p.m.
He will then take shelter in a new holiday home in the 600 block of Franklin Street to visit with children, officials said.
Mayor Ron Meer said the art walk activities are a new twist to the holiday kickoff, anchored by the annual Festival of Lights, which consists of lighted figures and strings of lights throughout Washington Park.
The lights will be turned on after Saturday's parade, which steps off at 3:30 p.m., in the parking lot of Washington Park.
A chili cook-off follows from 4 to 6 p.m. at the lakefront.
Meer said there's been some talk of moving the parade back to Franklin Street but did not want to speculate if that would ever happen.
"Murphy said he can envision adding a party type atmosphere with various things for people to do while mingling in the streets if there's a return of the Franklin Street parade.
The city has proven it can host downtown events from the success of street attractions the past several years leading up to major events like the Great Lakes Grand Prix. It would be another way of showcasing the dividends being reaped from the city's investment in Franklin Street.
"We need to lead with what's working and what's working is north Franklin Street," said Murphy.