With the flip of a switch, Van Buren ushered in the Christmas season on Saturday (Dec. 7) evening at its annual Courthouse Lighting Ceremony. Freezing temperatures and icy roads weren't enough to keep the crowds away, as a large group descended on the historic courthouse's lawn sporting heavy coats, gloves and even blankets.
Crawford County Judge John Hall welcomed visitors and commented on how pleased he was with the attendance, despite the weather.
"This is a really great group, especially considering this weather and how the roads have been," said Hall. "Thank you to everyone for coming out tonight. We promise to keep this show moving."
Hall then gave the official go-ahead for the lighting of the courthouse.
"These worked earlier when we checked them," joked Hall. "Let's hope the all of the ice and snow doesn't change that."
To the crowd's delight, the building and grounds lit up, right on cue.
Lining the courthouse steps were more than 20 Christmas trees, each uniquely decorated by a local business or organization. The Festival of Trees, hosted by the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce, offers members the opportunity to sponsor and trim a tree on the courthouse lawn. As part of the festival, judges select a first, second, and third place winner, which are traditionally announced at the lighting ceremony.
"Due to the weather, our judges weren't able to make it out yesterday," said Jackie Krutsch, Van Buren Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. "We will announce the winners later this week. Thank you to everyone who participated."
The icy weather and freezing temperatures detoured some other originally scheduled activities, as well. Santa opted to steer clear of downtown, and Chamber volunteers chose not to hand out cocoa, coffee and treats, as in years past.
Following the lighting ceremony, crowds roamed Main Street to enjoy Living Windows, sponsored by the Downtown Merchants Association. Several businesses decorated their door fronts, served up treats, and set up live displays, which included 50s dancers and classic Christmas scenes.
The courthouse will remain lit throughout the Christmas season. Trees will also be on display through the month of December.