The holiday season officially arrived in Lexington on Saturday night as Mayor Jim Gray and Santa Claus teamed up to light the city's 2012 Christmas tree.
Kids and grownups who packed into Triangle Park downtown for the festivities whooped and cheered when the 45-foot blue spruce blazed into colorful life.
Other Christmas trees at locations around town also lighted up as the mayor and St. Nick ceremoniously turned a huge key to turn on the electricity and usher in the season.
The celebration will continue with the city's traditional Christmas parade Dec. 6.
There was plenty of music Saturday night by various groups, including the Calvary Baptist Church Handbell Chorus and the Lexington Singers, to make the tree-lighting festivities sound like Christmas.
Four miles of lights strung around downtown made it look like Christmas.
And it certainly felt like Christmas, with the temperature hovering around 29 degrees when the tree was lighted, according to the National Weather Service.
No one seemed to mind the chill, least of all the children who enjoyed the two ice sculptures set up at the foot of the Christmas tree. Carved from 3,600 pounds of ice, they were in the shape of a train and a throne.
Sophie Owen, 11, and Josephine Owen, 12, got their pictures taken while sitting on the ice train with their cousins, Joshua Owen, 8, and Morgan Owen, 14.
"It was pretty cool," Josephine said.
This year's large Christmas tree was donated by Garry and Tracy Beatty. Charles Lawson and Suzanne Thompson also donated trees for the celebration.
Garry Beatty said Saturday night that the big blue spruce had been growing next to his house on Lin Wal Road for years before he and his wife decided to donate it to the city as a Chistmas tree.
"It was getting too close to the house," he said. "Now everybody can enjoy it."