Kalamazoo kicks off holiday season with lots of lights and cheer

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KALAMAZOO, Mich., — With the Thanksgiving holiday now behind us, many in West Michigan are beginning to turn their attention to Christmas. In Bronson Park in Kalamazoo, many gathered for the annual tree lighting ceremony Friday night.

Attendees enjoyed live music, ice carving, and the tree lighting ceremony. Despite temperatures in the mid to upper 30's and rain falling, the weather didn't stop those from coming out to celebrate.

"We're here, its a little cold but we've got hot chocolate so were good to go," said Kendall Colquitt, a Kalamazoo resident.

"This is many decades of tradition in Kalamazoo," said Mayor Bobby Hopewell. "This has been a central point for all of our community gatherings. I think that you'll find tonight that this tradition will be held up very well."

Mr. and Mrs. Claus, along with the mayor, flipped the switch to light up the park. Children and their families began to get into line around 6 p.m. for a chance to meet Santa himself. Many came with gift ideas.

"I'm going to ask him for a guitar, a four wheeler, piano, and drums" said Parker Froom.

"Twas the Night Before Christmas" was read by Mr. and Mrs. Claus during the tree lighting ceremony.

"I enjoy seeing the kids that are circling the stage and participating. They know every single word because every one of us grew up on that story" said Hopewell.

More than 89,000 lights lit up Bronson Park on Friday night. Organizers said the lights will stay on until the beginning of 2016.

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