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Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony: An Insider’s Guide

November 15, 2018

The most wonderful time of the year arrives a little early in Downtown Springfield.
Five days before families gather for Thanksgiving feasts, the Festival Of Lights kicks off with the Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony in Park Central Square Nov. 17. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. The tree will glow at 7:30.
But plugging in the lights is far from the only thing happening that night. Want to make sure your ho-ho-holiday spirit is cranked up full blast? Follow these insider tips.

1. Get there early.

The show starts at 6:30, but you’re going to want to be there earlier. Check out our parking map to find a strategically-placed spot. There’s plenty of free parking within walking distance! And why not start the night with dinner? You’re sure to find a meal you love at one of Downtown Springfield’s phenomenal restaurants.

2. Charge those batteries.

The Festival Of Lights kickoff is loaded with photo opportunities. There is, of course, the classic Christmas tree selfie. Who wouldn’t want to be photographed next to this year’s gorgeous pine tree, shipped in from the Ravenwood South subdivision? There will also be Selfies With Santa for children of all ages. Keep an eye out for Springfield Batman and other costumed characters, too!
Speaking of Santa, there will be a special mailbox at Park Central Square Saturday night. Bring your letters and Christmas lists to ensure they get to the North Pole in time.

3. Stay warm.

Saturday’s low temperature is expected to be around 31 degrees, so make sure you bring your hat, scarf and gloves. You’ll need them while you enjoy free carriage rides around Downtown Springfield from 6-9 p.m. Those rides are courtesy of the Downtown Springfield CID.
Don’t miss free opportunities to warm up while you take in the lights. There will be free hot chocolate, courtesy of the MudLounge, while supplies last. You can also duck into the Park Central Library for Holiday Storytime at 7:45, 8 and 8:15 p.m. Mayor Ken McClure, Fire Chief David Pennington and Police Chief Paul Williams will all read. Each child in attendance will receive a free book while supplies last.
Love history? The History Museum on the Square will have a pre-show by pianist Lukas Cooksey at 6 p.m. A special display, Winter Wonderland ~ Windows at the Fox, will be open from 6-10 p.m.

4. Be ready to sing

Remember the Code of the Elves?
“No. 3: The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
There will be plenty of chances to spread Christmas cheer at the Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony. Springfield Little Theatre, Allie and Grace, and Jessie Cowen are all scheduled to perform.
The night will also feature the premier of “Holiday Crossroads,” a collection of music from the Ozarks. Professional artists took part in the project, as did members of the Reed Middle School Choir.
Dancers from Studio Vie will also perform to help set the holiday mood.
The Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony is the first event of the Festival Of Lights, six weeks of holiday events and beautiful decor all across Springfield. For more information on the festival, visit the Festival Of Lights homepage. The site includes a calendar of events.