What exactly goes into the Tree Lighting Ceremony?
The saying “Christmas in July,” is very true and close to the hearts of Auburn Hills staff. Beginning in early summer, meetings are scheduled with representatives from all departments to prepare for our biggest event of the Holiday season. We begin by selecting vendors to help make this such a wonderful and memorable ceremony. Vendors include, Santa & Mrs. Claus, the Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, a Magician, Photographers, Musicians, and Face Painters. This is done very early so we can be sure that everything we want is available on the date we need.
Subsequent meetings are held monthly to discuss and track the budget, volunteers and coordinate other logistical items. The Tree Lighting Ceremony is graciously sponsored by the Auburn Hills Tax Increment Finance Authority. These meetings are to be sure that everybody is on the same page about deadlines and responsibilities for the day of the event. Our community relations department is hard at work during the early months. They are working diligently to design and produce items such as brochures, banners, posters, and mailings to help promote the event.
During these meetings, we also decide on charities to donate to during the holiday season. This year, Auburn Hills partnered with Adopt-A-Platoon to send holiday care packages overseas to our troops. We also collected new and gently used winter gear including hats, gloves, coats, and scarves to donate to a local shelter.
As the event nears, volunteers are secured, and there are many shopping trips made for decorations and fresh cookies and cider. The day of the event, our Department of Public Works (DPW) is outside all morning making sure everything is perfect. DPW staff decorates with lights and wreaths, they set up a stage and sound system behind MOM’s Memorial along with a bonfire put for roasting s’mores. Their hard work is an essential component of the Tree Lighting. Later in the afternoon, Auburn Hills’ Staff and volunteers begin working inside the DEN and University Center to set up all of the indoor activities that take place after the tree is lit. There is a lot of hustle and bustle around downtown awaiting the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Right at 6:00 PM, our honorable guests arrive by horse drawn carriage and help the Mayor light the tree. After the main event, participants wander around downtown into the DEN to have a picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, while others head over to the University Center for a holiday magic show, live music, cookies and to write letters to mail to the North Pole or even take a horse drawn carriage ride.
The staff and volunteers work through the event to be sure that participants know all of the wonderful activities happening until 9:00 PM. It is important to note that all of the activities are absolutely free!
If you have not yet had a chance to come to Downtown, we highly recommend checking out the tree and sending a letter to Santa.
A special thanks to everyone that helped make the Tree Lighting absolutely spectacular and willing to discuss the holidays in July!
Auburn Hills Tax Increment Finance Authority, Avondale High School National Honors Society, Midwest School Shows, Sweets!, Top Hats and Tails Carriage Company, Michigan Santa, Sweets!, Waterhouse Photography, Devyn Mitchell, Taylor Wyles, and Auburn Hills Staff.
Sam Mariuz, Management Assistant