When I was growing up in Millersburg, Pennsylvania, we kids always knew that Christmas was coming when the gazebo and the town square were decorated. Wreaths were hung all around the gazebo, and miniature evergreen trees and light strings were placed around the square and along Market Street and State Street. The lights were those old-fashioned big bulbs, and they only came in red, blue, and green. The decorations may have been simple, but they were unforgettable. Millersburg, in my mind, has one of the most beautiful Christmas displays I have ever seen, and it just embodies all that is special about living in a small town.
The annual tree lighting used to be the Saturday after Thanksgiving (I believe they now hold it on Black Friday evening, but when I was growing up, it was on a Saturday). My church, Trinity UCC on Center Street, used to hold a holiday bazaar that afternoon that ended shortly before the tree lighting. The Women’s Guild would sell soup, sandwiches, and all kinds of baked goods; there would be different stations throughout the fellowship hall with various kids’ games, face painting, and such; and the Sunday school classes always made simple ornaments to sell for a quarter apiece to raise money for the Christian Education fund.
I don’t remember much about the actual lighting ceremonies, unfortunately, but I’m sure there was some kind of entertainment, whether it was carolers or the high school band and chorus doing Christmas songs. Of course, Santa would make an appearance as well, usually on a fire truck. At least once I remember him sitting up on the gazebo. Kids could go up and read him their Christmas lists or have their pictures taken with him.