Wilmington will shine brightly this weekend. And the lights will be pretty bright as well.
Residents are expected to pack Town Common beginning at about 4 p.m. on Saturday for the annual tree lighting festivities. The event is highlighted by a visit from Santa, who will flip the switch on the town’s holiday light display.
“People always turn out in large numbers, and take the opportunity to show their Wilmington spirit,” said Fourth of July Committee chairman Scott Garrant. “It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.”
Many of the same traditions will continue this year that have gone on for many years prior. There will be an ice sculpture sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and other businesses along with free hayrides for residents from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
The lighting ceremony, which is the highlight of the night, begins at 5:30 p.m. After performances by the United Methodist Church’s choir and Christmas stories read by local clergy members, Santa Claus will be delivered to Town Common thanks to the Wilmington Fire Department at about 6 p.m.
As is tradition, the man in red will flip the switch on Wilmington’s holiday lights before he heads over to the Fourth of July Building for photographs with families.
Though Santa gets most of the praise for lighting up Town Common, Garrant said it’s the Tree Department that gets the credit for stringing thousands of lights in advance of this weekend.
“They do a terrific job,” said Garrant. “It takes Santa a matter of seconds to light Town Common, but it takes workers weeks to install them and give a terrific display in town.”
Wilmington Community Fund will be selling this year’s Christmas ornament during the event, in addition to ornaments from years past. The Wilmington Fire Department also encourages residents to bring an unwrapped toy to the station this weekend to donate to Toys for Tots.
Garrant, whose committee goes right back to work planning the Fourth of July celebration once the tree lighting is wrapped up, said this event is a great way for a variety of non-profits to come together in one place.
“That’s very typical of Wilmington,” said Garrant. “It’s what we see during the Fourth of July and what others see throughout the year. There are so many terrific organizations that step up when needed and are always available for the community. So many different people volunteer through many groups in town, and it’s great to see.”