Hundreds of people of all ages came to downtown Hamilton Friday evening to watch the annual lighting of the community Christmas tree. The living tree at the corner of Fourth and Main was decorated by volunteers of the Hamilton Downtown Association (HDA). The Main Street block between 3rd and 4th streets had been barricaded to allow the crowd to gather.

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Caroling by the Montana Acapella Society. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)
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The evening started with caroling through the downtown area by the Montana Acapella Society. The singing group then set up next to the tree for a few seasonal songs before the lighting countdown. Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf thanked the singers in a short presentation. He also thanked the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department for placing the large snowflake lights on the central business district lamp posts, which were also further decorated with strings of lights by the HDA. After a short seasonal poem from the Mayor, the crowd - which completely filled the Main Street block - all participated in a short countdown to light the tree.

Then, on a horse provided by the Bitter Root Backcountry Horsemen, here came Santa Claus (photo below). He handed out candy canes and then rode away with plenty of "ho, ho, ho's". Saturday and Sunday, he made stops at a number of Hamilton businesses to hear kids' Christmas wish lists.

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Santa is horseback at the Hamilton Christmas Tree. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)
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The next community Christmas Tree lighting is Thursday in Corvallis, when the Marty Litvin memorial tree next to Corvallis High School will begin shining. The event will be at 6 p.m. with many organizations joining together to provide popcorn balls, candy, cocoa and cookies. Music will be from the Corvallis High School Choir and Orchestra. American Legion Post 91 is bringing Santa to that celebration.

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Then, this weekend, Stevensville will have a full weekend of Christmas activities, including a light parade, Christmas tree, and other special annual events.

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