The 31st annual Christmas tree lighting in Great Falls reunited family and friends as they celebrated the start of the holiday season. Local school choirs sang Christmas classics while young musicians gave their debut orchestra performances, much to the joy of family members who could only see their children on their cell phone screens held high in the air due to the crowds. Event sponsors offered complimentary hot chocolate, cookies, and even popcorn to families patiently waiting in line for the treats.
Josh Folk of Great Falls, his wife Helen, and their two young children came to a halt at the foot of the slope leading to the yet-to-be-lit tree, and the activities assembled by organizer Celebrate Great Falls.
To his right, the Sexton Christmas Trees' team was chain-cutting a half-inch of wood from the base of a newly purchased conifer, reopening the resin-covered cells so the tree could absorb water. They carried it to the rooftop of a Suburban. To his left, middle schoolers, unattended, sprinted about the Village Field playing tag. At the same time, smaller children deposited their letters to Santa into the mailbag tied to an antique U.S. Mail truck. In front of Josh, a petting zoo and pony rides awaited his two little girls, Cora, 2, and Charlotte, 4.
"This village feels like a Hallmark movie," Josh said to his wife, Helen.
"Count down," he said.
"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five four, three, two, one. Lights," Santa called out. And the light shone down on everyone.