Two holiday events were held in Gainesville over the weekend: the 27th annual Pond Lighting Festival and the Christmas tree lighting at the Thomas Center.
27th Annual Pond Lighting Festival
About 80,000 lights were switched on Friday to kick off the 27th Annual Pond Lighting Festival, hosted by North Florida Regional Medical Center. Proceeds from the festival will benefit the charity Toys-for-Tots.
The evening began with performances by the UF Brass Ensemble, Gainesville Ballet Theatre and the Buchholz Choir. Later, Storm Roberts from WKTK 98.5 counted down the synchronized lighting around the hospital’s duck pond.
Other activities included displays of arts and crafts, sled rides down artificial snow, cookies and hot cocoa, and photographs with Santa Claus.
Thomas Center’s Tree Lighting
The Thomas Center was filled with holiday spirit on Saturday as families and kids gathered to watch the center’s annual Christmas tree lighting.
The event began with the tree lighting by Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe. Carol performances by the Singers of the Reformation and the Gainesville Harmony Chorus followed.
Visitors were able to go through the halls of the Thomas Center and read up on the history of the building and admire local artwork.
Santa showed up with many eager children waiting to meet him. Milk and cookies were served, and horse-drawn wagon rides were provided by the Duckpond Neighborhood Association.