By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(Nov. 28, 2019) It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in downtown Berlin.
Or at least it will, once the tree is lit on Friday evening.
Around 1,000 people are expected to attend the annual tree lighting and open house, according to Ivy Wells, Berlin’s community and economic development director.
“Oh, it’s so much fun. The whole community comes out for it,” Wells said. “It’s pretty much the kickoff to the holiday season.”
The event will take place from 5:30-9 p.m., but Wells said that town officials plan to close Main Street around 5 p.m. Berlin Mayor Gee Williams will speak just before the tree is lit at 6 p.m.
“It’s a nice community event,” said Debbie Frene, former co-owner of Victorian Charm.
Wells said attendees can take advantage of several activities during the holiday-themed festivities.
Ice Sculptor Erik Cantine is expected to begin carving his creation around 5 p.m., according to Wells. People can also have a beverage at the bar outside of the Atlantic Hotel on 2 S. Main St., but can’t walk around town carrying an alcoholic beverage.
Following the ceremony, Wells said that carolers will perform outside of Stevenson United Methodist Church on Main Street.
Participants can also elect to take a horse and carriage ride. Rides will be free from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, but at night, they’ll cost $6 per person and free for children 3 years and younger, according to Randy Davis, owner of R and B Carriage Service.
Davis also said that Santa Claus will be the horse-and-carriage coachman during the evening rides.
For those interested in town history, Calvin B. Taylor House Museum Curator Susan Taylor said a free candlelight tour of the downstairs will take place from 5-8 p.m. at the museum on 208 N. Main St. Docents will be dressed in period costumes, she said.
“The museum is so pretty in the candlelight, so it’s like stepping back in time,” Taylor said.
Moreover, Wells said the downtown shops would also be open late for those looking to start their holiday shopping.
While the exact origin of the tree lighting ceremony is unclear, Wells said people look forward each year to it and its attendant activities.
“It’s definitely grown over the last five years,” Wells said. “I think people want to feel part of the Berlin community and we make everyone feel welcome here and it’s just an enjoyable evening.”
For more information about the Tree Lighting and Open House, visit the “Berlin Tree Lighting & Holiday Shop Night” Facebook event page.