walkLEX: Lexington Christmas Season is Underway

Downtown Christmas Tree - Lexington, Ky.
Christmas Tree at Triangle Park - Lexington, Ky.
A few minutes past 6 p.m. on Friday evening, the Christmas season officially began in Lexington, Kentucky. With the help of Mayor Jim Gray, Santa Claus himself turned a large key to flip on the lights on the holiday decorations throughout downtown which include several Christmas trees - the most significant being the 30 foot blue spruce located at Main and Broadway (temporarily, Santa Clause Way and Santa Clause Lane) in Triangle Park.

Crowd at Tree Lighting - Lexington, Ky.With its multicolored lights illuminating what must have been the largest crowd ever to witness Lexington's tree lighting, the blue spruce provides a dramatic backdrop for the new ice skating rink that now winters in Triangle Park's central lawn.

The tree lighting ceremony in Triangle Park is a Lexington tradition, though its mechanics have changed over the years. I've attended in years with frigid temperatures, which nicely accommodated an ice sculpture contest. The ceremonial lighting of the tree has always involved the sitting mayor and St. Nick, but it has been performed by the flipping of a switch, the pressing of a button, and most recently the turning of a key. As for timing, it is traditionally been held the day after Thanksgiving but this too has fluctuated based on UK basketball and Backstreet Boys concert dates. Even the location has changed: in 2007, the tree lighting was relocated to the courthouse plaza on Limestone.

Another part of the tradition is that it is the ceremonial kickoff of both the Lexington Firefighters Toys-for-Tots and the Salvation Army's local Red Bucket Brigade campaign. These worthy organizations help those less fortunate, a number which is dramatically growing in these tough economic times. In introducing the Toys-for-Tots campaign, the Lexington firefighter observed that about 10% of those in need are first-timers -- that number has jumped to 50% of requests for aide. If you can help, please do. "And God bless us, everyone."