Loading Events

Manistee’s Famed Victorian Sleighbell Parade on Old Christmas Weekend.

  • This event has passed.


December 3, 2015
December 6, 2015


Downtown Manistee
Manistee, MI United States + Google Map

While Santa Sleeps…

Manistee’s Sleighbell Parade committee is lining up new attractions for the most festive Christmas celebration in the state!

Santa’s napping, but there’s no rest for the all-volunteer committee that organizes Manistee’s famed Victorian Sleighbell Parade, the highlight of the Old Christmas Weekend.

Always in the Christmas spirit, the committee has lined up several new attractions bound to delight new and returning visitors. This year, the 27th annual Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend will be held December 3 – 6, 2015. It is held under the auspices of the Downtown Development Authority.

“We’ve discovered new holiday talent right here in western Michigan,” said Rachel Brooks, who chairs the parade committee. “As the reputation of the weekend grows, people with unique entertainment options find us, and we are always on the lookout for them.”

Already tuning up for the Old Christmas Weekend and Sleighbell Parade are these new attractions:

  • Ludington resident Gordie Davidson, aka “Grinder Gordie,” who strolls the street playing carols on a genuine Victorian hand-crank organ. And, yes, he has a monkey – a mechanical monkey. See Davidson in action at www.grindergordie.com.
  • Reindeer for petting before the parade. “Yes, we have reindeer right here in Michigan,” said Brooks. “They’re popular, and we are delighted to have them join the Sleighbell Parade this year.”
  • The James Dempsey Mansion, 506 Maple St., will be open for tours on Dec. 5 at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Now a bed & breakfast, this 1894 Lumber Baron mansion gleams with ornate woodwork and rich trappings of Manistee’s Victorian boom town elite. Visitors will be greeted by reenactors representing James and Mary Dempsey, two of Manistee’s most prominent residents over a century ago. Tickets are $12 in advance and $18 at the door, available through dempseymanorbandb.com.
  • ‘A Lilliputian Christmas’ honoring the area’s German heritage with exhibits of traditions, decorations, dollhouses, toys and trains in the historical setting of Manistee County Historical Museum. Admission is $1 for students, $3 for families and $8 for parents and their minor children.

Finally, the hunt is on for the showcase tree that will glide down River Street at dusk on Dec. 5 as the centerpiece of the Sleighbell Parade. Jeffrey Mikula, public works director for the City of Manistee, keeps an eye out year-round for likely candidates. “The Department of Public Works compiles a list of trees offered by residents for the parade,” Mikula explains. “In November we visit each tree looking for the right height and perfect shape. This is the centerpiece of the festival, so our crews take great pride in finding just the right trees.”

The Old Christmas Weekend is made possible with the help of signature sponsor Chemical Bank; over a dozen additional sponsors; in-kind support from the City of Manistee; and in collaboration with the Manistee Downtown Development District and the Manistee Visitors Bureau.

Stay posted about the Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend by following the event at its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victorian-Sleighbell-Parade-Old-Christmas-Weekend/ 350170451821647

and by watching the official event website at


For more information, contact: Rachel Brooks
Chair, Old Christmas Weekend [email protected] 231.398.1270

*photo courtesy of Manistee County Visitors Bureau*

Event Comments