Provo lights up University Avenue

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    By PETER CARR

    Provo city officials welcomed Christmas with their annual “Lights On” ceremony at the Utah County Courthouse Nov. 30.

    “This is the 149th Christmas in Provo,” said Lewis Billings, Provo’s mayor. “I hope it will be the best Christmas ever.”

    More than 50,000 lights, provided by both Provo and Utah County, were lit in the ceremony, illuminating trees and buildings along University Avenue and the courthouse.

    “The whole purpose for the ceremony is to say ‘Wow, look at all of the beautiful Christmas lights,'” said Kathy Luke, chairman of the Winterfest ’98 committee and master of ceremonies for the event. “The lights are awe inspiring. It’s a way of welcoming Christmas and welcoming people to our city.”

    The ceremony began as third graders from Provo schools filed onto the courthouse steps holding candle-like penlights. The students sang various holiday songs to the delight of their parents who formed the majority of the audience.

    “The students have been practicing throughout the month of November,” said Vicki Felt, ESL teacher at Franklin Elementary School. “It’s exciting for them to be a part of the program.”

    The students worked on the songs separately at each of their five schools and then met the morning of the event to practice together. This is the fourth year students have participated in the ceremony.

    After the children’s performance, Mayor Billings led the crowd in wishing Provo a merry Christmas.

    Santa Claus arrived shortly thereafter and turned on the Christmas lights for the city, helped by a young child.

    The “Lights On” ceremony is part of Provo’s Christmas tradition. It is part of a sequence of events Provo sponsors during the holiday season in its Winterfest activities.

    Winterfest ’98 began Friday with a citywide Christmas parade, and will end with First Night activities to bring in the New Year.

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