Santa Parade, Tree Lighting Kick Off Holiday Season in St. Pete

Santa Parade, Tree Lighting Kick Off Holiday Season in St. Pete
Portland to usher in holiday season with Christmas tree lighting
Singers J. Valentine and Keri Hilson opened the night with a mix of original songs and traditional carols, before Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, several Boston city councilors, and — of course — Santa Claus took the stage to lead the countdown to the tree lighting.

“This is one of my favorite events,” Walsh said to the crowd. “It officially kicks off the holiday season.”

Portlands tree lighting at Pioneer Square on Friday, MAX stations to close

When the crowd finally counted down to zero, colorful streamers and white confetti burst into the air, the Macy’s Christmas tree lit up with color, and the crowd cheered with holiday excitement.

“I was ready to share the Christmas spirit,” said Mary Babb, 44, of Winthrop, who showed up to the tree lighting wearing a handmade sparkly headband, green and red earrings, and a beaded Christmas-themed necklace. “Boston during the holidays — I love it.”

Bad weather and tree shortages in the region have led some suppliers to feel the pinch, but local tree farmers are still looking forward to a good season.

Robin Cushman, 33, said she has brought her two sons to the Downtown Crossing tree lighting for the past eight years.

“It’s just spectacular, and Macy’s has always been so inviting,” Cushman said. “This is our opening to Christmas.”

Cushman said she and her family moved from Boston to Peabody four years ago, but they come back every Christmas to see the tree light up.

“I really liked when the tree lit up today,” said Brady, who was wearing reindeer antlers and a string of Christmas lights around his neck. “The confetti blew everywhere today.”

“We heard such great things about Boston,” said Jacqui Mee, 54, who traveled from London. “Macy’s Christmas is well-known all over the world — so what else would you do? It’s just magical.”

Video: Town & Country tree lighting today

Alba Gutierrez, 28, recently took a job at Harvard Medical Center, but is originally from Spain, she said. It’s her first Christmas in the United States.

“Christmas here is like an American movie,” Gutierrez said. “We don’t have all these shows and performances in Spain. It’s completely different.”

Even though crowds started getting antsy in the cold, several people said it was completely worth it.

“I don’t think our tree will be as big,” said Rod Mee, 55, who is married to Jacqui Mee. “But hopefully it’ll be as bright.”

Michael Swensen for The Boston Globe Mayor Martin J. Walsh addressed the crowd at Downtown Crossing for the Macys Christmas Tree Lighting.

Pioneer Courthouse Square was filled with carolers on Friday, Nov. 25 for the 32nd annual Portland Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Thomas Lauderdale and Pink Martini, the Northwest Community Gospel Choir, and the Pacific Youth Choir led a holiday sing-alongs before Mayor Hales and Santa himself threw the switch, lighting up the 75-foot Douglas Fir that towers above the Portland streets. (KATU photo by Tristan Fortsch)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Thousands will fill Pioneer Courthouse Square Friday night for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

The 14,000 lights that cover a 75-foot Douglas fir will be turned on at Pioneer Square during a ceremony and Christmas carol sing-a-long led by Portlands own Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini fame.

TriMet will be closing the MAX stops a around the square at 4 p.m. in anticipation of the ceremony. Bus routes might also be impacted. They will resume service at about 7 p.m.

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