This Griswoldian tradition outshines all others!
By Lauren Frock Denton Live: July-Dec 2014
Carolers, photos with Santa and horse-drawn wagon rides around the square are all elements that help kick off the holiday season at Denton’s annual Holiday Lighting Festival. Celebrate the most wonderful time of year at this free event Friday, December 5, 2014 from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. and see why Denton is the perfect place to call home for the holidays.
The 26-year-old tradition, hosted by the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival Association (DHFA), brings thousands of people to the square each year to enjoy live music, arts and crafts, and marvel at a 20-foot-tall live Christmas tree illuminated with thousands of tiny, multicolored lights. The beautiful evergreen serves not only as a visual centerpiece of the festivities but also commemorates the life and work of Precinct 3 Commissioner Lee Walker, a beloved figure in Denton’s history. Walker served three consecutive four-year terms on the Commissioners Court, and was the first woman to be elected to the court.
Walker was known for putting the public good before politics, and served as the president of the County Judges and Commissioners of Texas. One of Walker’s proudest achievements was overseeing the original restoration of the Denton courthouse.
After her death, the Denton County Commissioners Court voted to dedicate the tree in her honor in 1992. Each year the tree glimmers in remembrance of Williams’ service to the community at the flip of a switch at the Holiday Lighting Festival.
In addition to live music, dance performances, wagon rides and photos with Santa, a toy drive benefits Denton County Toy Store, a local nonprofit that provides Christmas gifts for children of low-income families in the community.
The celebration wouldn’t feel right without warm apple cider in hand. Denton Main Street Association annually hosts Wassail Fest in concurrence with the Holiday Lighting Festival. Attendees enjoy tasting more than 30 merchants’ personal twists on the holiday beverage in the shops on and around the square. At the end of the night the votes are tallied up and the Wassail Queen or King is named.
Thanks to the DHFA, residents of Denton enjoy a taste of the holiday’s cheery ambiance year-round. The organization’s volunteers provide maintenance for the twinkling lights that sparkle on the trees around the courthouse, showing that in Denton the Christmas spirit is never out of season.