Christmas Tree Lighting Festival Kicks Off This Weekend

The Christmas Tree Lighting Festival will kick off this Saturday, Dec. 2 in Prairie Creek Park in Frankfort with a live broadcast from WILO’s Cindy Loveless from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. sponsored by The City of Frankfort.

The tree is lit for the first ever Christmas Tree Lighting Festival in 2022.

Prior to the festival, organizer MaryLynn Peter hosted a coloring contest to determine the community member that will join Mayor Judy Sheets in turning the Christmas tree lights on during the festival. This year, Peter announced that the winner of the contest was 8-year-old Abigail Head, who will be tasked with helping flip the switch.

“She’s going to help turn the lights on with the mayor at 6 o’clock,” Peter said. “She’s all excited about it. We had a lot of great coloring pictures brought in. It was really cool.”

The festival will begin at 4 p.m. with access to vendors and various activities, such as inflatable games, ornament making, food trucks and much more, for the community to explore until 8 p.m. The Frankfort orchestra and choir will take the stage at 5 p.m., the Frankfort Middle School band will take the stage at 5:30 p.m., the Tree Lighting Ceremony will commence at 6 p.m., the kids’ bicycle drawing will take place at 6:15 p.m., the lip sync contest will be at 6:30 p.m. and the ugly sweater contest will commence at 7:15 p.m.

The 2023 iteration of the Christmas Tree Lighting Festival marks the second annual festival organized by Peter for the community of Frankfort, and this year’s festivities will take place at Prairie Creek Park instead of the courthouse lawn due to exterior renovations at the courthouse.

Abigail Head wins the coloring contest!
– Photo courtesy of MaryLynn Peter

“We started it last year, and it was up on the courthouse lawn, and of course for obvious reasons, we could not have it (there) this year,” Peter said. “The Parks Department said, ‘hey yeah, let’s do it at Prairie Creek Park.’”

This year, the festival will sport a lip sync contest on The Farmers Bank Performance Center Stage where community members will compete by selecting one of four songs and battling against other community members for victory in each category before four community members battle it out to one final song, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

“The more dramatic and the more funny, the better, and it’s going to be all voting by the audience–everyone out there–we’re going to go by clapping,” Peter said. “You’ll get four winners, and they’ll compete for the final song for the huge grand prize, which is all cash.”

Judy Sheets and Reese light up the Christmas tree during the festival in 2022.

Peter expressed that the event is geared toward creating a “Hallmark” atmosphere where children and their families are able to create lasting Christmas memories through celebrating the community and the season. Peter stated that the inflatable games are focused on the children in attendance, but the lip sync contest and the ugly sweater contest are open to all ages for the adults in attendance to join the festivities as well.

Peter commented that the switch to Prairie Creek Park this year is more of a benefit to the festival as it allows for further expansion into other activities that were limited on the courthouse lawn, and she teased the community with the appearance of the real Santa Claus who will be available for photos during the festival.

“I’m hoping we’re going to be able to continue it on right there because you’ve got the stage, you got the restrooms,” Peter said. “Santa Claus is going to be there. He’s going to be there in the Encompass building, so the kids can go see Santa Claus too.”

The Frankfort Unified Neighborhoods group entertains community members on the square.

The tree for the Christmas Tree Lighting Festival was donated by Cottrell’s Tree Farm in Rossville and stands around 13-feet tall.

WILO will broadcast from the Christmas Tree Lighting Festival from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. as the festivities start kicking into gear at 96.9 FM, 102.7 FM and 1570 AM, which was made possible by The City of Frankfort.