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Great Falls Kicks Off Holidays

Annual tree lighting event is once again a community favorite.

Santa Claus greets children at the Great Falls Tree Lighting ceremony on Sunday evening. The annual event attracts hundreds of area residents and activities including pictures with Santa, Christmas carols, a live Nativity scene and much more.

Santa Claus greets children at the Great Falls Tree Lighting ceremony on Sunday evening. The annual event attracts hundreds of area residents and activities including pictures with Santa, Christmas carols, a live Nativity scene and much more. Photo by Robbie Hammer.

The annual Great Falls tree lighting ceremony was off to a brisk but cheerful start Saturday evening as families, friends and community members piled onto the open field to celebrate the much anticipated tree lighting ceremony.

Soon after 5:30 p.m., a small crowd began to form by the popcorn and apple cider tables, while many people headed towards the bonfire to stay warm. Within the next 10 minutes, many families quickly lined the gate around the tree as members of the Langley Madrigals chorus sang one holiday favorite after another, finishing with We Wish You A Merry Christmas. By 6 p.m., the crowd had doubled in size, just in time to see Santa and Mrs. Clause roll up in a fire truck adorned with lit-up reindeer to the loud cheers and welcoming of children and parents alike.

Within just a few minutes of Santa’s arrival, the tree lighting took place and the crowd of all ages watched in awe of the magical moment. Soon the field was bustling with movement as children, teenagers and adults dispersed to the various entertainments set up, including a petting zoo, pony rides, and the chance to sit with Santa.

“I like talking to Santa,” said Paige Ramsey, 6. “I have two things on my mind and I call them my two front teeth!”

Talking with Santa proved to be the most popular among the children. An extensive line didn’t take long to form and remained well after 7 p.m. On the other end of the field, a live nativity performance served as another crowd pleaser.

By 7:30 p.m., the field was noticeably emptier as the cold began to set in. Some families remained, continuing to make their way from one station to the next, while many families wrapped up the evening and said their goodbyes.

As chatter, laughs and screams filled the air throughout the night on Saturday, a real sense of community could be felt among goers. The holiday season was kicked into full swing and the annual event was once again a community favorite.