The Hamilton Downtown Association had busy crews Sunday, November 22, putting up Christmas lights on Main Street trees and on the community Christmas tree at the Hamilton Post Office. The season's lights include the light pole snowflakes throughout the downtown area that were again hooked up earlier this month by the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department. The fire department has been part of the downtown decorating for decades, continuing their own annual festive tradition.

One of the traditions that will change this year, however, is the official "Lighting of the Christmas Tree" which happens the day after Thanksgiving. This year's lighting ceremony will be much smaller than previous years, and the public is asked to not come to the tree's location this year but instead watch virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The street will not be blocked off, again to discourage a crowd. There will be a short countdown at 5:30 p.m. November 27, on "Facebook Live" at the Hamilton Downtown Association Facebook page and then the lights will come on. The tree lighting will be available for online playback after the event.

We also wanted to keep Santa safe this year, so he will stay at the North Pole and tend to other duties and will not be at the lighting ceremony. There will be no live music and the usual street corner burning barrels will stay in storage this year.

However, the Hamilton merchants will be starting their holiday specials Friday and continuing into "Small Business Saturday," November 28, where you're encouraged to support our local businesspeople, who have had quite a struggle this year. The Hamilton Business Relief Fund, a committee comprised of community leaders and professionals, has raised money to help our businesses to help pay their rent, utilities, employees. But, the requests have continued to come in and the fundraising continues. Claire Kemp of the Hamilton Business Relief Fund said, "Our businesses are going to need us in the coming months. If any funds remain, we will use them to assist businesses in any way we can."

Of course, the other way to help is to shop locally this holiday season. For more information about the Hamilton Downtown Association, check their website.

And, even with these changes for public safety, the Community Christmas Tree will glow through the season, providing a little more sparkle to the community in this holiday time.

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