Dozens brave cold for Christmas tree lighting ceremony

Families pose for pictures after Jefferson City's Christmas tree lighting ceremony Thursday evening.

Cheers and music filled the frigid air Thursday evening as dignitaries lit a Christmas tree at Rotary Park.

The Show-Me Brass Band and Helias High School Choir entertained the crowd while Parks & Recreation employees handed out cookies, popcorn and hot chocolate ahead of the lighting ceremony. Portable gas heaters provided some relief from the 22-degree chill. After a ten-second countdown, the official party threw a switch, lighting up the tree and a pair of wreaths on the pillars flanking it just as the first snowflakes danced in the air.

Bill Luebbert said his family has come to the lighting ceremony for 7 of the 8 years it has happened. He said the crowds get bigger every year, although he thought this year's crowd was a bit smaller due to the cold. Luebbert and his wife, Christina, said it's a great way to get into the holiday spirit each year. Their children, Beth and Henry, both said their favorite part of the ceremony was the cookies.

Michelle Bayer and her two children, Ariella and Cayden, attended their first tree lighting ceremony Thursday night after moving to Jefferson City about a month and a half ago. Bayer said she heard about the ceremony and decided it would be fun to attend.

"Since we just moved here, we don't have a tree up, so this is the first tree for us," she said.

Jefferson City's holiday festivities continue Friday with Living Windows and tours of the governor's mansion. The annual Christmas parade is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday.