Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration at the Thomas Center on Saturday, Dec. 1


On Saturday, Dec. 1, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department is hosting its annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration at the Historic Thomas Center (302 NE Sixth Ave.). Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe will be on hand to welcome citizens, and call for the giant tree to be lit. The free program runs from 6–8 p.m., and light refreshments will be served.

Santa takes some time from his busy holiday schedule to visit with the children and listen to their fondest wishes. The joyful sounds of holiday music on the hammered dulcimer and autoharp by Jim and Joyce Lillquist of the Gypsy Guerrilla Band are heard, along with the dulcet carols sung by the Singers of the Reformation and the Gainesville Harmony Show Chorus. Children of all ages will enjoy the snow falling at the Thomas Center entrance throughout the event.

The heart of the celebration is the holiday decorations on the giant tree and around the building, which are annually provided by the Thomas Center Associates. A highlight of the occasion is the luminaries put out annually by the Duckpond Neighborhood Association at the Thomas Center and throughout the adjoining neighborhood. Outside the Thomas Center, the Duckpond Neighborhood Association will offer carriage rides around the neighborhood that is lit with luminaries for the occasion. The suggested donation for the carriage rides is $5 per rider.

The Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration is presented by the City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. It is funded in part by a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council. For general information, contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at or 352-393-8532. For more information about this event, please contact David Ballard at or 352-393-8746.