The life and beauty of Christmas arrived in the heart of downtown Troy on the evening of Black Friday with the annual Grand Illumination Ceremony. Thousands of lights brightened thousands of faces after the traditional countdown lit the first gift of the season, a towering, 60-foot blue spruce donated to the city by the Beck family.

In 1971, a 30-inch blue spruce sapling was saved at the city dump by Gary Williamson and planted on his property on Summit Avenue. Many similar saplings were saved and planted throughout the city in conjunction with National Arbor Day Foundation initiatives. When Williamson eventually moved, a family acquired his home along with the growing tree. According to Mayor Mike Beamish, “The history of this tree has its roots in the city of Troy and now it graces the downtown square of Troy Ohio.” John Wilson of Troy Main Street recognized Williamson and the Beck family with plaques commemorating another homegrown milestone unique to the city of Troy.

In celebration of the momentous occasion, illustrious guests were flown in all the way from the North Pole and arrived on the scene with the help of the Troy Fire and Police Departments. Santa and Mrs. Claus rode in high style atop the ladder of Troy’s newest Fire Truck and were escorted by the Mayor’s Youth Council to meet Mayor Beamish and begin the countdown. The festive spirit of the season rang in the air with the cheers that carried down Main and Market Street as lights twinkled in every direction from the center square.

Steaming cups of free hot chocolate were served with marshmallows and peppermint sticks while carriage rides carried visitors around the square before and after the tree lighting. The Miami Shelby Melody Men performed the soundtrack of the evening with a long list of familiar carols sung in four-part harmony. Prior to Santa’s long-awaited appearance, Mayor Mike Beamish read “The Month Before Christmas” to gathered families.

Children enthusiastically lined up for hours to visit Santa’s cottage on Prouty Plaza. 6-year-old Morgan reluctantly confessed that she would be asking Santa for an Easy Bake Oven while 9-year-old Christian boldly claimed that he would be asking for a remote control car and boots. Even several adults accompanying children decided to take the opportunity to share their wishes with the Jolly Old Elf. A local teacher at Troy Christian Elementary School, Carol Bigalke, has been hitching a ride with other teachers and friends to get to work every day. She requested a blue car to which Santa replied, “Please be sure to check your driveway first thing on Christmas morning.”