AIKEN - A short ceremony was held in downtown Aiken on Friday night for the holiday season's tree-lighting.
Some who gathered around the unlit Christmas tree sang carols and Happy Birthday to Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, who was celebrating his birthday Friday.
Before the tree was lit, children bounded up to the open microphone to let everyone know what they were thankful for.
Some said they were thankful for Jesus Christ. Others said they appreciated their parents and family dogs. One little girl said she was thankful for plants. Another boy said he was grateful for the universe.
The children too shy to step up to the microphone sat on their parents' shoulders watching quietly as candles were lit in the crowd below them.
The candles given out at the ceremony were lit from the flames of others' candles.
While some came to the heart of Aiken to witness the lighting of the town's tree, the candle-lighting really stole the show.
Marie and Carmine Napolitano have lived in Aiken for little more than a year, but they shared their flame generously with everyone around them - those they knew and those they didn't.
"You never know whose candle you'll get to light," Mr. Napolitano said.
"We came down here tonight for the camaraderie," Mrs. Napolitano said, "for the spirit of Christmas, for so many things."
Reach Sara Bancroft at (803) 279-6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.