For the 17th year, the annual Marietta Holiday Lights Bicycle Tour will be held on the night after Christmas in downtown Marietta and the surrounding neighborhood.
While the present season has been moderate - and even warm at times - the annual bike ride will go on whatever the weather has in store.
"The ride is a good opportunity for individuals and families to bicycle off a little bit of Christmas fudge," said ride coordinator and founder Roger Kalter. "The ride has taken place during a wide variety of weather conditions from clear and 40 degrees to quarter-size snow flakes and 20 degrees."
The annual ride is designed to gather bicyclists interested in exploring Marietta's streets while enjoying the company of other cyclists and the colorful lights decorating area homes, businesses, parks and churches, he said.
The bicycle ride will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday and is sponsored by the Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club and the First Unitarian Universalist Church. Riders will gather and depart from the church at Third and Putnam streets in downtown Marietta.
Kalter said he started the bicycle ride in Marietta after he participated in a similar one many years ago in Cincinnati. Volunteers are being sought to assist with traffic safety and refreshments will be served at the church after the ride.
"Because it's the day after Christmas, most people are where they are going and traffic is always very light," he said. "It's a good time to take a leisurely ride through the downtown area and view all of the holiday lights."
The group will ride from Putnam to Fourth Street, Fourth to the River Trail, the length of the trail to Front Street, Front to Greene streets, Greene to Second Street and then to Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets. Third Street is avoided because it is a state route, Kalter said.
Five salt boxes have been placed along the River Trail in areas where there are inclines and where the sun is blocked by houses on Front Street. The boxes may be used by any trail user to distribute salt and sand on iced or snowy portions of the trail. The salt is provided by the city and the volunteer-made boxes are replenished by other rowing and cycling club volunteers.
The ride will end back at the Unitarian church where hot chocolate and Christmas cookies will be served, Kalter said. Anyone wishing to bring treats is welcome to do so, he said.
Kalter recommended dressing in layered clothing to help fight the cold of the evening. More layers can be added if the temperatures are low and some can be removed if it turns out to be a temperate evening, he said.
Riders need to bring a bicycle, a safety helmet and a light, even if it is just a flashlight taped to the handlebars, Kalter said. In past years, he and some of the other longtime riders have also decorated their bicycles with holiday lights. Children under age 14 must be accompanied by adults.
While the ride is free as a gift to the community, participants must sign a liability waiver just before the event begins. Anyone wanting more information can contact Kalter at 373-1784 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.