Downtown Danville tree

Danville Public Works employee Eric Kinser assembles a 20-foot Christmas tree in Kresge Park. A tree-lighting ceremony is set for next Friday night.

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DANVILLE — The city of Danville is starting a new Christmas tradition, and it’s happening the day after Thanksgiving.

A tree-lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. next Friday will kick off the season in the Vermilion County community.

“This is the first time we’ve done the lighting ceremony,” Community Relations Administrator Ashton Greer said.

“We ordered some commercial holiday decor. We wanted to get everyone downtown to light it up.”

There will be more than one tree being lit. In addition to a 20-foot tree in Kresge Park, trees lining Vermilion Street will be illuminated.

“There’s a lot of new decorating this year,” Greer said.

Also being decorated: antique light poles and the city’s parks.

A holiday banner has also been installed at the intersection of North and Vermilion streets.

“It’s just going to look really pretty,” Greer said.

The city of Danville has committed to going all in to celebrate the Christmas holiday, according to Greer.

An organizing committee was formed for the occasion and discussed “How can we make the holidays special in Danville?” and came up with the lighting ceremony idea.

“They came up with the design for the decorating in downtown and wanted to have a ceremony so people could appreciate the changes and improvements that we’re making this year.”

The city will also furnish hot cocoa, and there will be caroling in Kresge Park immediately after the downtown is lit up.

The lighting ceremony is just one of the events on tap for the Christmas season in Danville.

The second annual Home for the Holidays Outdoor Decorating Contest will be held Dec. 1-21.

To enter, residents should decorate their home’s exterior and submit their address and last/household name to Greer via email at agreer@cityofdanville.com by Dec. 7.

The city will create a list of houses for people to drive by. The list will be posted on the city website and on the city Facebook page.

There will be first-, second- and third-place winners in two categories — City Selection and People’s Choice Awards.

The City Selection will be made by Mayor Ricky Williams Jr. and city team members. The People’s Choice will be made by the public by posting a photo that the voter snaps of their favorite decorated house on the designated Facebook post by midnight on Dec. 21.

First-place prize winners receive a $100 Google Play gift card, $50 in local business gift certificates, an engraved traveling holiday trophy, and they will be the grand marshal of the Night of Lights parade the following year.

Second-place prizes are $75 in local business gift certificates, and third-place prizes are $50 in business gift certificates.

Downtown’s Night of Lights parade is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 3.

Float winners will be selected in several categories.

Our County Editor

Dave Hinton is editor of The News-Gazette's Our County section and former editor of the Rantoul Press. He can be reached at dhinton@news-gazette.com.

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