The City of Neosho will kick off the Christmas season with its annual tree lighting ceremony, set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in Big Spring Park.

The City of Neosho will kick off the Christmas season with its annual tree lighting ceremony, set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in Big Spring Park.

While the lighting has become a yearly event for the community, the centerpiece of the ceremony has changed this year.

Last year, after the Christmas lights came down, the city was forced to say goodbye to the 40-foot Norway Spruce that stood as the city’s Christmas tree for years in Big Spring Park.
Wes Franklin, the city’s public relations and events coordinator, said the tree was lost to drought conditions in 2011 and 2012.

“We weren’t real sure if we’d even have a Christmas tree this year,” Franklin said. “If we weren’t going to have one I was going to hold this probably at the Grecian stage in Big Spring Park and just have a lighting ceremony.”

However, the city’s Christmas tree tradition will live on, after the Leadership Neosho Class of 2013 recently donated a Norway Spruce to replace the lost one.

“Now we have one to be our focal point of our lighting ceremony so we’re really happy about that,” Franklin said, noting that the new tree is approximately five-foot tall. “It’s supposed to grow anywhere from one to three feet per year depending on the weather.”

While the tree serves as the center of the ceremony, there are also Christmas decorations throughout the park that will be lit during the ceremony.

And per tradition, the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, John Mills, will get to flip the switch to turn on the lights.

The city added a new twist to the tradition last year, splitting the honors between the citizen of the year and the City of Neosho’s Employee of the Year.

Also on hand at Thursday’s lighting ceremony will be Willie the Wildcat, representing Neosho R-5 Schools, Clifford the Big Red Dog, who will be giving away free books on behalf of Scholastic, and Cub Scout Troop 55, who will be selling refreshments.

Students from Central Elementary School will also be singing a few Christmas carols, and a city representative will read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

“It just brings the community together to kick off the Christmas season in Neosho,” Franklin said. “It’s really the first Christmas event in Neosho. This way it allows the community to take part in it and to start the Christmas season together as a Neosho community.”

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Franklin at 451-8050.

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As the Christmas season kicks off in Big Spring Park, a holiday craft fair will also be taking place just down the road at the Neosho Civic Center.

The Neosho Holiday Market, which will feature 37 vendors, made up of craft vendors and direct sales, will run from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Neosho Civic.

Shelly Ertel, the main organizer of the event, said she is holding the craft fair for the first time this year to take the place of two previous holiday events that will not be in Neosho this year.
She noted the Mills Park Centre Ladies Night that the now-closed furniture store used to hold the same night as the lighting, as well as the Dickens Faire craft fair that was held in past years in conjunction with the Chamber’s Breakfast with Santa.

Ertel said Soroptimist International of Neosho will be selling concessions at the craft fair to raise money for local scholarships, and will also be selling tickets for their holiday homes’ tour, scheduled for the following Sunday.

She said Poppa’s Poppin’ Corn will also be selling kettle corn at the event.
Ertel said the craft fair has already run out of space for additional vendors, with some vendors on a waiting list.

For more information, contact Ertel at 850-9584 or find “Neosho Holiday Market” on Facebook.