A large evergreen tree grows on the front lawn of The Strand Center for the Arts in downtown Plattsburgh. Tomorrow night at 6 p.m., the people of Plattsburgh will gather there, and the tree will be lighted for the first time this holiday season for the entire city to see.  A large evergreen tree grows on the front lawn of The Strand Center for the Arts in downtown Plattsburgh.

Tomorrow night at 6 p.m., the people of Plattsburgh will gather there, and the tree will be lighted for the first time this holiday season for the entire city to see. This is the evergreen’s third consecutive year as the city’s largest Christmas tree. Two years ago, this tree was adorned with 2,000 lights in the town’s first annual tree lighting.

These lights were purchased by executive director for the Strand Center, Joshua Kretser. The following year, local donors in the Plattsburgh area raised more money to purchase an additional 4,000 lights for a second tree lighting. “Our generous community decided that they wanted to keep making the tree even more spectacular this year,” Kretser said. For this year’s lighting, The Strand Center has gathered enough funding from the community to add another 2,000 lights. With a grand total of 8,000 lights and a massive five-foot snow-burst tree topper, Kretser is certain the evergreen “will make quite the impression.”

Before the tree-lighting ceremony, 3,000 to 4,000 Plattsburgh residents attend the Downtown Holiday Parade. Promotions and special events coordinator for the City of Plattsburgh Sandra Geddes has helped to organize the parade since its inception in 2015. Working with Kretser and the Strand Center, Geddes has made the holiday parade and tree lighting a town favorite in just three short years. Compared to other parades Geddes oversees for the city, the holiday parade is unique because of its emphasis on Plattsburgh’s neighborhood streets.

The parade will start on Brinkerhoff Street, turn left onto Oak Street, toward Court Street, down Margaret Street and end at Pine Street, as posted in the City’s press release for the event.  The parade will start on Brinkerhoff Street, turn left onto Oak Street, toward Court Street, down Margaret Street and end at Pine Street, as posted in the City’s press release for the event. “It’s really nice because a lot of families can come out on their front stoup and watch,” Geddes said. Even residents enter the parade and decorate their cars or vehicles; local businesses decorate their storefronts and stay open later when the parade is en route.Some Plattsburgh State students are registered to help with this year’s holiday parade.

Service chair for Tau Kappa Epsilon Andre Grady thought the parade would be a good community service activities for him and his brothers to participate in this year. Grady and 20 others are volunteering to help as traffic monitors and parade ushers tomorrow night, making sure everything runs smoothly. Although this is his first year aiding the holiday festivities, Grady hopes to make this event a yearly occurrence for the fraternity. “It’s always fun to do an event that’s fun for the people and [helpful] at the same time,” Grady said. “[I think] we’ll have a good time doing it this year.”  Combining the efforts of the city and the Strand Center, Geddes and Kretser created this event during the holiday season for the town of Plattsburgh.

“The results of our efforts were very much appreciated by the throngs of people who came out into the cold to celebrate the holidays as a community,” Kretser said. “The attendees love the parade and the excitement of the tree lighting.” Both Geddes and Kretser agree that the parade and tree lighting was something the city of Plattsburgh needed to foster a better spirit against a typical North Country winter. Kretser describes the event as “the definition of community collaboration” and that it “provides spectators an opportunity to feel the positive spirit we are fortunate enough to possess.” Geddes loves the feeling of helping the community through the parade and tree lighting. “It feels awesome. I love my job.” Geddes said.

“It’s so wonderful to see thousands of people and all these community organizations come out despite the cold. It’s been really amazing to watch it grow.” Although time consuming, yet, equally inexpensive and rewarding, she hopes the parade will continue to be carried on in future years.  Kretser feels the same in terms of what it means to aid the town through the Christmas spirit.

“I’m excited to be able to partner with amazing people and organizations, like Sandra and the City of Plattsburgh, to fill a void for our neighbors and friends with events like this,” Kretser said.The City of Plattsburgh and the Strand Center for the Arts are hoping for a successful holiday parade and tree lighting tomorrow night. “It really is a community event, so the more the merrier,” Geddes said. They are encouraging anyone who wants to celebrate to see the festivities in the streets of downtown Plattsburgh.

Email Emma Vallelunga at news@cardinalpointsonline.com

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