TROY — Hundreds of people filled the streets in downtown Troy Friday evening to welcome Christmas at the city’s Downtown Holiday Lighting ceremony.
“I didn’t know if we would have 20 people here tonight, or a hundred, and I’m amazed. Thank you for being out here tonight,” Troy mayor Robin Oda said to the crowd gathered downtown for the ceremony. “I just want to wish everybody a merry Christmas. It’s been a crazy, crazy year, and this just gives us all a sense of normalcy.”
The Colorado Blue Spruce that sits downtown this year was donated by Joanne Hinkle from her side yard, in honor of her late husband, Rod Hinkle, and her late granddaughter, Katie Cruea. Joanne was in attendance at the ceremony with her great-grandson and Katie’s son, Carter.
“This tree is a family effort by the Hinkle family, and they’re here to help us celebrate tonight,” Oda said.
At the same time the tree was lit, Kettering Hospital and the Miami County Courthouse lit up their own decorative lights for the holiday season. In addition to the lighting of the tree, live entertainment was provided and Santa stopped by to greet members of the community and wish everyone a merry Christmas.
“It’s good to see everyone,” Santa exclaimed to the crowd. “You know, Troy is one of my favorite places to stop. It’s a wonderful place.”
Following the tree lighting, Santa met with children in attendance at the ceremony, passing out gifts to all. Also passed out to those in attendance were commemorative face masks.
Throngs of families, both immediate and extended, took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and the clear evening to enjoy the festivities that were offered. For many, 2020 has been a reminder that the holidays aren’t about the food, or the presents, but about being close to the ones you love and cherishing the time you have with them.
Mandy Ray gathered with her family to enjoy what has become a long-standing tradition; Ray grew up in Troy, and has come out to the Holiday Lighting Ceremony for as long as she can remember.
“I came out tonight to be with family and enjoy the lighting of her tree,” Ray said.
Jason Pleiman was in attendance with his wife and two children, and the annual tree lighting has become something of a tradition for them over the past few years.
“We’ve been here a few times in the past, and didn’t really have anything else going on tonight, so we thought we’d come out here and get in the Christmas spirit,” Pleiman said. “I’m most looking forward to getting into 2021.”
“I’m glad that there’s something public still going on in Troy. I think our mayor has done a wonderful job, and I’m meeting my grandkids as soon as they get here,” Troy resident Penni Caldwell said. “It seemed like a fun thing to do this year. I’m most looking forward to being with family this Christmas; I think that’s what we should’ve learned this whole year, what’s important.”