After a hiatus last year due to the pandemic, citizens once again will gather in downtown Hastings on Thursday for the annual Celebration of Lights.

The event runs 5-7:30 p.m. and features returning activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with Santa Claus, stage entertainment and food vendors.

New this year will be stories with Mrs. Claus as well as “Frozen” characters Anna and Elsa ready to meet and take photos with children at The Lark, 809 W. Second St. Firefighters will offer a demonstration of what can happen when a Christmas tree isn’t watered and becomes too dry.

“There’s so much to do and see,” said Tammy Orthmann, director of the Hastings Downtown Center Association. “Hopefully everybody will have a great time.”

The evening will end with Santa Claus and the Kool-Aid Man taking the stage before a countdown to turn on all the lights downtown.

Orthmann said most businesses downtown will be open through the event. One will receive the Downtown Center Association Business of the Year award during the event.

“It’s a great time to do some window shopping,” she said. “A lot of eat and drink places will be open, too.”

She is glad the Downtown Center Association, Business Improvement District and city of Hastings were able to host the event again this year. Masks aren’t required, but people are welcome to use them.

“We expect people to use their level of comfort,” Orthmann said. “We want you all to feel safe while you’re here.”

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