CINCINNATI — Now in its seventh year, the free Halle-Bration holiday festival in Bond Hill has grown beyond its celebration and gift mall roots.
The event that started as a “hallelujah celebration” has become a way to reach people in the community about issues that matter all year long, said Kathye Lewis Norman, co-founder and coordinator of Halle-Bration.
“We want to make sure people can have fun but also get education to help themselves,” she said.
To do that, this year’s event will have workshops on Friday, Dec. 13, and Saturday, Dec. 14, at New Vision United Methodist Church. The workshops will address such important issues as how businesses can become “bankable” along with men’s health, black women’s health and coping with youth violence.
Halle-Bration also will have holiday-themed presentations on the meaning of Christmas and the meaning of Kwanzaa along with an opportunity for 200 children at the event to receive free toys from Santa on Saturday.
Kurt Billups helped present a men’s health workshop last year and will be back again this year, focusing on what it takes for men to adopt a healthier lifestyle and stick to it.
“For everybody, lifestyle change is different,” said Billups, the founder and CEO of YEP! Fitness who works with Mercy Health. “It takes a lifetime. That means this is something you do from the cradle to the grave. It’s not a thing you do once and I’m fixed, I’m cured, I’m better.”
The workshop on coping with youth violence is new to Halle-Bration this year.
Dr. Charles Collins said he and his wife, who both specialize in psychiatry at UC Health, offered to lead the workshop at Halle-Bration, which is held at their home church.
“One of the concerns that we have is that there’s been increased violence with kids and adolescents caused by bullying, for one example, domestic things in the household and, quite frankly, what they see in society,” Collins said. “Sometimes I think just by giving people a little information, it helps them no matter when they get it.”
This year’s event also has more vendors from out of town than ever before, Norman said, and Ed “Sax” Thomas will officially release his Christmas CD on Friday night.
Organizers also have expanded the Taste of Halle-Bration, where vendors sell baked goods, sweets and treats, she said.
“It’s the largest regional, free holiday festival that we have,” Norman said. “We’re right in the center of the city so we’re easy for people to access.”
Parking won’t be a problem either, she said. The event has satellite parking at the nearby Mercy Health facility and free shuttles to take people back and forth.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. To reach Lucy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.