Hickory – To officially kick off the holiday season, the City of Hickory will host a Christmas Tree Lighting in Downtown Hickory on Friday, November 20, at 7 p.m.

Join Hickory Mayor Hank Guess and Santa Claus on Union Square, or online via Facebook Live, to watch the 22-foot Fraser fir tree and other downtown decorations come to life with lights and color. Holiday music will be provided by Hickory Music Factory. Additionally, enjoy the beautiful sounds of the Hickory Choral Society’s “Caroling on Cannon Hill” throughout the evening.

Santa will enjoy seeing everyone from his new, socially distanced, winter wonderland until 8:30 p.m. Since Santa won’t be able to personally take children’s Christmas wish lists this year, children can mail their letter to Santa at the North Pole through the Nailed It DIY mailbox, which will be available during the evening. Throughout the holiday season, the Santa mailbox will be located at Nailed It DIY in Downtown Hickory.

The Hickory Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism Department will offer socially distanced gingerbread house decorating under The Sails on the Square for registered participants. Twenty gingerbread house kits will be available on a first come, first served basis. Registration is required online at https://hickory.activityreg.com/selectactivity_t2.wcs.

Hickory Fire and Police Departments will have areas set up underneath The Sails on the Square for holiday activities, information, and giveaways. The Hickory Museum of Art will provide giveaways for children and Catawba Science Center will host science demonstrations under The Sails with the new stingray mascot.

The Newton Depot Christmas Layout, sponsored by the Newton Depot Authority, will display two beautiful 8-foot by 6-foot trains and a moving trolley on The Sails on the Square Stage for all to see. Locations for viewing the display will be marked at 6-foot distances. After the Tree Lighting, this train display will be available at the SALT Block in the North Lobby of the Science Center and will be there until the end of the year.

Downtown businesses will remain open throughout the event and offer specials, making the evening a great time for patrons to begin their holiday shopping. Attendees can stop by the Hickory Downtown Development Association’s table for coupons for Small Business Saturday.

The Tree Lighting will be livestreamed on the City of Hickory’s Facebook page for those who wish to participate virtually. In-person event attendees are strongly encouraged to wear masks or face coverings and practice social distancing.

“Although Hickory’s holiday kickoff event will look a bit different this year due to the ongoing pandemic, the City wanted to provide a special and safe way to celebrate the start of the holiday season,” said Hickory Communications and Marketing Manager Dana Kaminske. “Since Hickory was named Top Tinsel Town by Realtor.com in 2018, we hope the Hickory community enjoys this year’s festivities and follows along with our ‘Tinsel Town Countdown’ on social media as we count down from Thanksgiving to Christmas and celebrate the fun holiday activities offered throughout the community, along with some surprise guest appearances.”

As part of the Tinsel Town Countdown, Hickory residents are encouraged to show off their holiday spirit and decorating by sending a photo of their “Holidays in Hickory” via Facebook Messenger to the City of Hickory’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CityofHickory, by 5 p.m. on December 11. The photos will be posted on the City’s Facebook page in a Holidays in Hickory photo album for all to see and enjoy.

Additionally, Valley Hills Mall, Viewmont Shopping District, and Downtown Hickory are participating in the City’s “Christmas Cruisin’’’ on Tuesdays (Valley Hills Mall), Wednesdays (Viewmont Shopping District), and Thursdays (Downtown Hickory) throughout December. Patrons are encouraged to “Stop. Shop. And Snap.” Stop and see the beautiful decorations; shop at the businesses throughout the holiday season; and snap a s“Elfie” at one of the elf photo stand-ins in downtown or with any of the wonderful decorations throughout the city, or make reservations to take a photo with Santa at the mall. More information will be shared on the City’s Facebook page throughout December.

For more information about the City of Hickory’s Christmas Tree Lighting, please visit www.hickorync.gov/christmas-parade-and-tree-lighting.