Annual tree lighting scheduled

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The annual tree lighting ceremony kicking off the holiday season was once held on Center Street.

That changed five years ago when officials gave notice the town would move the event to an old communications tower at town hall.

Lights in the shape of a Christmas tree were lifted 120 feet into the air at the tower.

The idea was then born to decorate the tower with hundreds of lights and relocate the annual event.

It went off without a hitch and initially attracted a large crowd. The crowd and the enthusiasm has grown dramatically over the years.

The lighting is now a town and chamber event.

This year it is set to be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 6.

The annual parade will follow at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 and will feature a new route.

Town Manager Charles Brown recalls the initial lighting of the tree at town hall.

“It is really unique. There are not many like it is Eastern North Carolina. Probably the closest one is the WRAL Tower in Raleigh. People here really like it,” he said.

The tower features 3,100 lights of varied colors. The special lights are LED and last about seven years.

The lights have already been checked in preparation for the holiday season.

The local fire department checks the lights with its ladder truck.

The lighting ceremony officially kicks off the holiday season and the chamber will announce a variety of activities for the downtown area that night.

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