Tree Lighting Ceremony held on the Square

Kids perch on their parents' shoulders to get a better view of Santa.

Max Tirouvanziam

The space outside Little Shop of Stories on the Square isn’t usually packed on cold Thursday nights. But that certainly was the case on Dec. 1, when a crowd of over a thousand people gathered for the annual tree lighting ceremony.

Event-goers of all ages- from tiny toddlers to teenagers and teachers to retirees- were treated to a few events before the main attraction. The celebration kicked off at around 6:30, with free hot chocolate and candy canes being handed out to the crowd, and continued with the 4/5 Elementary School chorus singing a selection of holiday tunes.

Decatur resident Kupe Kupersmith, who was attending the event for the first time to see daughter sing in the chorus, described the crowd as being in a general “good mood.”

“There’s a lot of excitement,” he said, “and there are more people than I expected.”

Another first-timer, Decatur freshman Joey Manasso, had similar observations about the evening.

“This is just a fun social gathering that everyone can partake in,” he said. “It’s very open. You can go up and talk to folks, and you see people you know in the crowd.”

Events continued as the man with the bag showed up on top of the roof. He had some words of advice for attentive kids aiming to secure their places on the “nice” list before leading the customary countdown.

Toddlers and elementary-schoolers perched on parents’ shoulders to watch as the tree turned a bright green color and lit up the night. As both Kupersmith and Manasso noted, they cheered and oohed and aahed throughout but especially at the main attraction.

“The small kids were sort of amazed by the sheer volume of people,” Manasso said.

The “Voices of F.AVE” choir finished up with renditions of two more holiday classics, then as they filed out, on came the artificial snow machines, to the delight of preschoolers and others in the audience.

“Snow” floated down, people started filtering out, and the giant tree was shining bright, signaling the start of the holidays in Decatur.