ST. JOHNSBURY - For the first time, St. Johnsbury held a lighting ceremony at the Welcome Center. The Friday night event was filled with treats, music, and more for all of the members of the public and their children.
Children in the area were able to come down and meet Santa Claus and afterwards, they were able to light up the town. The kids and Santa all turned a "magical" silver key and simultaneously, the holiday lights downtown were turned on. The idea of this event was brought to St. Johnsbury by a volunteer who had experienced a similar type of ceremony in their hometown.
“I was happy to make it part of our tradition,” says Tara Holt, the Director of the St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce.
Santa made a grand entrance for the benefit of the children. “We saw the firetruck and it came around, and we could see Santa through the window. Then we did a countdown, and we counted down from ten to one,” explains Bella McCartney. As soon as the crowd reached one, the key was turned and the lights came to life.
One lucky sixth grader from Good Shepherd Catholic School was among those chosen to turn the key. “I got to turn the key to light the lights,” says Genevieve Hatch with a big smile on her face.
“The idea that these children were able to turn a key and have the holiday lights pop on, as if by magic, I think that was really exciting for a lot of people,” said Holt.
The event was large in numbers and should keep people coming back for more as the holiday season continues.
“There had to be at least 75 people here along with the kids and volunteers hat were involved in putting everything together and setting up the hot cocoa and the cookies and the fantastic train set that is going to stay up that people can come to the welcome center and see,” explains Holt.
The event is already being planned for next year, and they hope that it will be even bigger and better. The park in front of the Welcome Center is planned to be the focal point of the light display for next year's ceremony. The ceremony is useful for a couple different reasons, and Holt hopes it stays around for a while.
“[It’s] meant to kick December off ... our darkest month, by turning on the lights ceremoniously and with celebration,” said Holt.
The kids truly enjoyed the ceremony, saying it reminded them of a fairytale during the Christmas holidays.