Highlands makes the most of a modified Christmas Tree Lighting

Santa delighted the small number of people who attended the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Highlands on Nov. 28 at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park.

Presented by the Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center and recently dubbed ‘Light Up the Park,’ the excitement in the air grew once Santa arrived spreading Christmas cheer while riding on a Highlands Fire & Rescue truck.

Pictured below is a glimpse of Light Up the Park:


Highlands Chamber Executive Director Kaye McHan said this year’s tree lighting was a drive-through affair that was broadcast on WHLC to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Santa couldn’t take his usual post in Santa’s Hut due to the pandemic, but he was still able to make an appearance and wish everyone a merry Christmas.

Small groups of people were scattered throughout the park waiting for the countdown to the Highlands Christmas Tree Lighting.

Before the lights were powered on, Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor spoke a few words from the stage, as did Highlands United Methodist Church Rev. Randy Lucas, followed by Santa reciting “Twas the night Before Christmas.”

Then it was countdown time, and shortly after 6 p.m. lights throughout Founders blazed to life. Scattered Oooo’s and Aaaa’s could be heard throughout the park as each tree lit up one after the other.

Highlands Christmas Tree looking towards the ice rink.

Cars lined up before the tree-lighting countdown to visit Santa on Pine Street who was spreading Christmas cheer to all those driving by from a Highlands Fire & Rescue truck on the right side of the frame.

Visitors filtered into Founders Park throughout the evening to stroll through the display of lights.

Throughout the night’s festivities, skaters made good use of the ice rink and the reservation system set up by the Highlands Rec Department as a safety measure ran smoothly.

Ice skaters were able to use the ice rink safely with the help of a reservation system created by the Highlands Rec Park.

Also at 6 p.m., many businesses throughout downtown switched on their Christmas lights marking the beginning of the Chamber’s storefront decorating contest, Trim Our Town.

Founders Park lit up with Christmas lights (bottom right of frame) and businesses along Main Street (left side of frame) turned on their Christmas lights marking the beginning of the Chamber’s Trim Our Town storefront window contest.

The contest began on Nov. 28 and runs through Dec 24. Anyone can vote using the QR code at each participating store, or by clicking HERE.

There is incentive to vote, voters’ names are entered into a drawing to win a $200 gift certificate from Old Edwards Inn.

Hanging out at the Highlands Christmas Tree at Founders Park.

Olde Mountain Christmas Festival cancelled

The Chamber recently announced the cancellation of the Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Festival on Dec. 5 due to safety concerns. Read more about the cancellation HERE.

Santa making his entrance to riding a Highlands Fire & Rescue truck for Light Up the Park.

People who attended Light Up the Park in person were spread throughout Founders in small groups with most wearing masks and only removing them to snap a quick photo.

Taking a breather by a blazing fire and soaking in the spectacular view of Founders Park. Highlands’ Christmas tree is in the background behind the Christmas Hut.

Founders Park was a festive scene even before the Christmas Lights were turned on.

Founders Park in Highlands after the Christmas Tree Lighting on Nov. 28.

Dusk descends on Founders Park signifying the approach of the Christmas Tree Lighting.

Taking it all in while sitting on the fountain at Founders Park in Highlands.

The backbone of the Highlands Ice Rink operation always ready to deliver quality karaoke over the loud speaker when called upon.

Enjoying the holiday season.

Another decked out entrance to Founders Park.

Highlands Christmas Tree next to the Christmas Hut at Founders Park.

Families had the chance to snap some pics in Santa’s sleigh.

A panoramic photo of downtown Highlands after Light Up the Park.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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