FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) – Downtown Florence was filled with music, lights, and people Friday night as the 24th annual tree lighting ceremony lit up the city.
The tree was lit at 5:30 p.m. followed by Santa’s big arrival in the firetruck at 6 p.m. Live music began after Santa’s arrival with choirs and performers taking the stage.
Local businesses even extended their hours until 9 p.m. to allow people to shop, eat, and enjoy a night full of festivities.
Ezra Brown is the owner of Soule Café located in downtown Florence. He said he expected a lot of business with people buying hot chocolate for the big holiday event. He said he prepared by hosting something of his own at his café.
“We’ll actually have extra music going on tonight, we’ll have things going on for the kids, and for the grownups, the big kids,” he said. “We’ve got a little music so you can dance a little bit for the lovers in the house and find the love of your life this holiday season.”
He said these types of city events are great for the area.
“Downtown has been growing so much over the seven month time that we’ve been here, we’ve really seen it flourish so an event like the lights, it’s going to, no pun intended, light up downtown,” said Brown.
Hundreds of people flooded the downtown area with shopping bags in hand. There was both a gingerbread house contest and an ugly sweater competition for people to partake in. Logan Sims said she began shopping downtown early Friday with her daughter, to get a head start on holiday shopping.
“I heard they had the s’mores and Santa and everything was open extra late so we figured we’d come down,” Sims said. “We never really have time to come downtown and so we heard they were open late so we just came down.”
Brown said Soule Café will extend its hours on Christmas day for people to enjoy the holiday with a warm drink.