WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The countdown is complete and the lights are lit!
Hundreds of kids of all ages showed up to the 4th annual Holiday Tree Lighting in downtown Wilmington Friday night. People enjoyed the lights, listened to the music, and sipped on free hot chocolate and coffee to stay warm.
This year, the tree is at the corner of Princess and Water Streets. It kicked off a series of events each weekend and attracted some first timers.
"We didn't shop today but we are very happy to be down here and sharing this with the community because this is more important. It's what Christmas is about," said Helen Ryan of Wilmington.
Mr. and Mrs. Claus also stopped by to check out the tree. One by one, kids sat on Santa's lap to tell him what they wanted for Christmas.
Santa had to move quickly to the other side of Wilmington at Mayfaire Town Center where he and Mrs. Claus lit up the tree there.
More than a thousand people watched ballet and theater performances, danced to live music, and watched the 16-foot tall tree light up the night. Again, there were people there who had never seen the tree lighting at Mayfaire and they loved it.
"The comradery, the festivities, you know, young, old, everybody has a blast. Couldn't be happier!" Lori Utz said.
The entertainment included the Future Shine Holiday Band who gave Ol' Saint Nick a run for his money on stage with elves on guitar.
There were also other Christmas tree lightings across the Cape Fear Friday night.