LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Crowds gathered in downtown Lexington Friday to kick off the holiday season with the annual tree lighting ceremony.
The tree lighting featured an appearance by Santa and mayor Linda Gorton. The ceremony also includes the outdoor ice skating rink.
The crowd held their breath for a moment when the lights on the tree turned on, then back off, but they were on again in a few seconds.
"I like looking at all of the Christmas decorations. They’ve got a lot of stuff to do around here like the ice skating. Just a lot of people ready to have a good time, full of the holiday spirit," said Elijah Butler, who traveled from Laurel County for the ceremony as part of his family's holiday tradition.
Organizers of the event worked with the University of Kentucky Police to ensure traffic moved safely downtown, especially with the men's basketball game tipoff soon after.
After the tree lighting on Friday, Small Business Saturday will kick off its 10th year.
The event was originally launched by American Express and the goal is to get people to shop at small and local businesses.
Historic Downtown Georgetown is one of the places to go and do just that. There are one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques that sell everything from art and jewelry to home decor and toys for kids.
The Lexington Downtown Partnership is hoping visitors and shoppers will be drawn to the local shops and restaurants the area has to offer.
"It's really important we think to bring people to downtown Lexington, everyone's playground, and celebrate the holidays," said Laura Farnsworth, the director of the Downtown Lexington Partnership. "It's a special time. Downtown is very special in a lot of people's hearts. Here in Triangle Park, we have the official tree and you can come down, ice skate, take pictures and ice skate, make memories. It's just a really special time."
The Downtown Lexington Partnership has once again launched its shop and celebrate program.
Shoppers who spend more than $25 at a participating downtown business this holiday season can be entered to win a New Year's Eve package.
For more information, click here.