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  • Eagle’s Nest Ranch was representing at the Mayor’s Tree Lighting event.
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It was a jolly good time for Elizabeth residents at the 2021 Mayor’s Tree Lighting event on Dec. 4.

The Saturday-evening event, an annual tradition that began in 2018, saw hundreds of people gather on Main Street starting at 4:30 p.m. to take part in the tree-lighting ceremony, watch Santa ride in on his carriage, and partake in amazing food and fun family activities.

The free event, open to all, aimed to bring the community together while also raising money for many nonprofit organizations around Elizabeth.

The Town of Elizabeth chose to highlight four organizations this year: Elizabeth Food Bank, Harvest Food Bank, Elbert County Ag and Eagle’s Nest Ranch. Donation jars were placed throughout Main Street for attendees to donate money to the four non-profit organizations.

The Elizabeth Education Foundation and the Elizabeth Fire Foundation had booths set up on Main Street selling hot chocolate and warm apple cider to raise money for their organizations.

To kick off the event, Santa and Mrs. Claus worked their way down Main Street in a beautiful carriage. Mayor Megan Vasquez then led the lighting of the tree, a native pondersosa pine at the corner of Main Street and East Broadway. The tree has nearly 1,200 lights, 100 ornaments spanning 10 to 26 inches in size, and a large gold star sitting at the top.

Following the tree lighting, event attendees could visit the many booths and activities spread throughout downtown Elizabeth. Children could make ornament with elves, and the Elizabeth Police Department had a station where kids could make Christmas cards. Other activities included face painting, balloon art and sugar cookie decorating.

Volunteers with the Pines & Plains Libraries read Christmas stories to children and the Means Agency held an ugly sweater contest. Families were also able to take holiday photos with mini ponies and an antique truck.

Suzy MacKenzie, founder of Eagle’s Nest Ranch, had a booth set up for people to sign holiday cards for troops overseas. Throughout the season, Eagle’s Nest Ranch — an equine ministry that serves veterans, first responders and families in crisis — has accumulated 1,593 cards in their Christmas Cards for the Troops campaign, a new record. The cards will be sent to service men and women serving in Japan, Iraq, Bahrain, and Kuwait.

“The Tree Lighting is a magical event that allows us to come together as a community and celebrate the many blessings and joys that the holiday season brings,” Mayor Vasquez said in a statement to the Elbert County News. “The event allows us to see old neighbors and friends, and allows us to welcome our new community members and businesses. This year we were honored to see the community come out and support our newest business, Small Town Mini Donuts.”

The mayor thanked a range of participants including the organizing committee of town staff, chamber board members and the owners of The Nest at the 1897 House, plus “Sheriff Norton, Chief Steck, Chief Berghahn, and Don Means for coming out and playing the part of the Christmas Inflatables.”

“It was so wonderful to see so many community members and businesses come together and celebrate the joy of the holidays and support our local nonprofits,” Vasquez said.