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Illumination Celebration, community worship kick off holiday season

The traditional community worship service and downtown Illumination Celebration officially kick off the Christmas season Wednesday. The worship service, sponsored by the ministerial association, begins at 6:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. Rev. Andy King of First Assembly of God will bring the message. Music will be provided by the LCHS Chorus under the direction of NaToya Fletcher and an ecumenical bell choir. An offering will be collected with the proceeds going to the Empty Stocking Fund. Mayor Peter Banks will give the welcome. Other clergy participating in the service include Rev. Steve Pattison, Rev. Kevin Thomas, Rev. Jan Sherwood, Rev. Garth Forster, Dr. Cyndi McDonald and Rev. John Cox. After the service, participants can walk downtown to the tree-lighting ceremony which begins with music at 7:15 p.m. First Baptist choirs will provide music as will the Thrive Band. The Rockettes from the Kim Ozier School of Dance will perform. Ryran Traylor will read The Christmas Story and Tonya Walker will sing ‘˜O Holy Night’ as the trees are illuminated. Santa will arrive via a mule-drawn buggy. Parents should bring their own cameras or phones for photos with Santa. Participants are also encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Visitors can take part in the Reindeer Games, a sort of Christmas-themed scavenger hut. Participating merchants include Pastime Grill, Forgotten Closet, Red Bird Treasures, All 4 Kidz, Elements of Style, SteamPunks, Salon on Main, Sun Solace, United Bank, Taylor & Main and Deraney’s Two City Tavern. Organizations participating the ceremony include the Boys & Girls Club, Boys Scouts, Empty Stocking Fund and Friends of the Animal Shelter.

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