Celebrate Christmas Downtown brings cheer to the community!


Community participation is what makes the annual Rutherford County tree lighting such a fun event!

Celebrate Christmas Downtown was more than just a stage performance this year!

Friday, December 1st, downtown Murfreesboro had everything from dancers, singers and live reindeer to Santa, snow and free hot coco!  There was a little something for everyone to get into the Christmas spirit.  Main Street Murfreesboro's Christmas committee worked hard in partnership with several community groups to plan out this year's Celebrate Christmas with the Rutherford County Courthouse.  Starting at 5:30 there was entertainment around the courthouse from local church choirs and many participating business sponsors had their tents lit up and prepared for free activities that attendees took part in throughout the night.

Live reindeer made themselves at home on the public square while lighted carriages took spectators around the historic downtown blocks.  One didn't walk too far before they ran into Santa's elves or Dicken's of a Christmas characters posing for photos.  

Starting at 6:00pm Kara Kemp, Rutherford County's "Storytelling Laureate", emceed the annual tree lighting program from the stage in front of the Rutherford County Historic Courthouse. County Mayor Joe Carr welcomed attendees with presenting sponsor Middle Tennessee Electric's Vice President of Community Relations and Member Services Robert White.  

Kicking off the entertainment was The Center for the Arts performers from "White Christmas" singing, "Count Your Blessings," and "White Christmas."  In between acts this year the children in the crowd were surprised to see a newly created "Elf-Dar" on the big screen that showed onlookers where Santa and his sleigh were. This addition helped everyone see when the big guy would arrive at the square.

More entertainment by our younger population came from elementary students selected from two county and city schools created a combined school choir, led by choir teachers Amy Swanson (Black Fox ) and Stacy Racy (Homer Pittard Campus School).  The schools represented this year were Christiana, Northfield, Salem, and Campus School.  This thirty member choir performed two songs, "Oh, Mr. Santa Claus" and "Believe."  

The Dancer's School was back to thrill the young and old watching with their choreographed kicks and turns on stage.  These talented young dancers kept everyone entertained for ten minutes of holiday moves!  They even had a surprise 'little Santa' who threw down some moves on stage.

Emcee Kara Kemp was joined with choir directors Amy Swanson and Stacy Ray in between acts to lead the public watching in favorite holiday singing including "Jingle Bells," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer."  

Last to take the stage and provide entertainment was a performer many from our older crowd remembered when their children were little.  "Miss Patty Cake" told the Christmas story and sang to children all about the real reason of Christmas. To wrap up the performances Kara pointed to the "Elf-Dar" and let everyone know that Santa was right over the square!

As everyone was led in the carol "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Santa himself showed up on stage with his own private security guard and elves to guide him through the crowd.  After greeting children from the Boys and Girls Club who had attended the night's festivities, Kara Kemp, Santa, and the children led everyone in a countdown to light up the tree.

As snow fell over the lit tree everyone joined together to sing "Silent Night" before Santa and his elves departed to the inside lobby of the Rutherford County Historic Courthouse for free pictures. While families waited their turn to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas, children were read to by volunteers from Read to Succeed.  

After Santa's departure more entertainment followed for those sticking around including KST performers singing some of our favorite Christmas songs and then the MTSU Gospel choir, which took the crowd by storm and kept the square livened up until 8:30pm.  

Free crafts and activities were to be found all around the courthouse for children to participate in including making reindeer food, ornaments, photo booths, cookie decorating, and free hot coco.  Special thanks to the many choirs who sang around the square during the evening including Belle Aire Baptist Church, Holy Hill Chapel Church, and Center for the Arts Vocal academy.  

This free community event is organized by Main Street Murfreesboro but made possible by generous sponsor support:  Presenting sponsor Middle Tennessee Electric, Stage sponsor Pinnacle Financial Partners, Window sponsor Redstone Federal Credit Union and Santa sponsor State Farm- Dana Womack and Michael Busey.  The following were Elf sponsors:  Dempsey, Vantrease and Follis, Murfreesboro Nissan, Learning Zone Childcare, The Davey Tree Expert Company, Kevin Sparks Signature Pools and Ragan-Smith.  In-kind sponsors include:  Concert Production, Wild Goose Chase, The Fish, Century 21 Wright Realty and WGNS.

This event is in partnership with the Rutherford County Government and Rutherford County Television. You can watch the hour long program on you-tube thanks to Rutherford County Television "government access." Celebrate Christmas You-Tube recording

It takes many hands to make a large event happen with great success.  Special thanks to the individuals who worked all year to plan for the evening:  Amy Swanson, Ashley McDonald, Francela Salas, Jay Sanders, Jolene Radnoti, Stephanie Kusch, Lacey Ballard, Sonya Stephenson, Stacy Ray, Kara Kemp, Lisa Olivares, and Mike Bickford.  

Also, a huge shout out to the Rutherford County maintenance staff for decorating the courthouse so festive each year and making the tree lighting as beautiful as it can be.  

Main Street is always grateful for the many police with both the Murfreesboro City Police and the Rutherford County Sherriff's Department who work together to make the event safe for over 6,000 in attendance.

Santa stops downtown each Saturday after the tree lighting.

Due to the quaintness of downtown Murfreesboro, Santa loves to come back and visit on the following three Saturdays after the annual tree lighting event.  Main Street Murfreesboro is thankful for the downtown lawyers who help cover expenses for Santa's travel downtown:  Charles G. Ward; White & Polk; Mitchell & Mitchell; Hudson, Reed & Christiansen; Waldron, Fann & Parsley; Smith-Wright Law; Trail, Coleman, Stearns; Rucker & Rucker; and Burger Law Firm.  Pictures with Santa are a fun way to bring people to the public square on Saturdays and encourage shopping and eating with local businesses in the historic downtown.

"It reminds you of the good in the world and the hope we have through Christmas."

Sarah Callender, Executive Director of Main Street Murfreesboro, shares, "My heart is always full after the annual tree lighting event.  It really kicks off the holiday season for our community.  I love to see how different, talented groups come together and make a beautiful show leading up to turning on the lights of the courthouse Christmas tree.  For me to be a part of a long standing tradition this big in the community, bringing people from all walks of life together to count down and watch the lights come on that tree, it is something special.  It reminds you of the good in the world and the hope we have through Christmas." 

Want to be involved in future downtown events?

Follow Main Street Murfreesboro for 2024 event schedules and learn about all that is happening downtown in the new year. Also, if you are a business and want information on how to sponsor a downtown event to get in front of the community for marketing purposes and support free public events downtown please contact us. mainstreetmurfreesboro

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