White lights from wreaths and Christmas trees lit up the stage of the Lady Antebellum Pavilion on Saturday while elementary school children sang Let There Be Peace on Earth.
Seconds earlier, Columbia County Fair Queen Taylor Flippo and 10-year-old lung transplant patient Sawyer Mobley flipped the switch that sparked the tree lighting ceremony at Evans Towne Center Park.
Children in the audience played, sang and danced as the Columbia County Mass Children’s Choir, made up of 150 children from five Columbia County schools, sang Christmas favorites like Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and Deck the Halls.
Dalton May, 9, a student at North Columbia Elementary School, said he was a little nervous about singing in front of the crowd gathered at the park.
His favorite part of the event was the hot chocolate, which he kept stirred with a peppermint stick.
His mother, Lisa May, said it was the family’s first time attending the ceremony.
“It’s really nice,” she said.
Wearing her green vest, Girl Scout Emma Haygood, 9, sat on Santa’s knee and told him she wanted a Flutter Fairy and an iPod. Then she hugged Mrs. Claus and took a peppermint while her brother, 4-year-old Rowan Haygood, told Santa about the dinosaurs and superheroes that he wanted to find under the tree.
For Emma, though, the best part of the tree lighting was “going on stage and saying the Pledge of Allegiance” with other Columbia County Girl Scouts.
The Vineyard Church offered hot chocolate to warm up chilly patrons as they walked around before the ceremony checking out the vendors, who sold everything from homemade beauty products to Christmas wreaths.
Tania Green said the cool weather added to the ambiance of the Christmas season. A Girl Scout troop leader, she has attended the tree lighting ceremony for the past three years.
“It’s grown over the years,” she said.