DAMASCUS - Christmas events in Damascus begin this week, culminating in the annual "Light Up Damascus" tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the Damascus Friends Church north parking lot.
The tree lighting will feature the West Branch High School Band's Select Instrumentalists, Community Choir, honoring of distinguished citizens and a message from pastors Mick Foster and John Ryser. A performance by West Branch's Young and Alive show choir will follow at 6:30 p.m. in the Damascus Friends Church sanctuary.
The lighting ceremony will also feature a memorial tree that will shine throughout the season.
Community members may make a $5 donation in memory or honor of a loved one, the proceeds of which assist in continuing the community event. Donation envelops are available at the Damascus churches, Farmers National Bank, post office and True Value Hardware. Names of the loved ones will be printed in the event program. Deadline for donations is Thursday.
Light Up Damascus will include a full slate of activities leading up to the tree lighting ceremony.
Area businesses will offer deals, refreshments, open houses and prizes throughout the day, including Damascus Hardware from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Crazy Custom Detailing from 8 a.m. to noon, Remember When from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., The Blue Barn Vintage Marketplace from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and G's Pizza from 3 to 10 p.m. The Damascus United Methodist Church will host a home and craft show, as well as a cookie walk and lunch counter, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and the Damascus Community Center Park will offer cookies, hot cocoa and crafts from 1 to 3 p.m. The Pearce House Museum will also be open from 1 to 3 p.m. offering crafts, displays, souvenirs and tours.
At Damascus Friends Church, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit from 2 to 4 p.m. in the north parking lot. There will also be a canned food drive at the same time, with each can earning a ticket and the winning tickets receiving big stockings, Girl Scout carolers from 2 to 3 p.m. and singer Jill Burke from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
In the church atrium and gymnasium children can decorate themselves with tinsel, ribbons and braids by Darlene's Wishing Well Salon and Stephanie's Salon and Spa from 2 to 4 p.m. There will also be children's activities from 3 to 5 p.m., caricatures by Abby Kash from 3 to 5 p.m. and blood pressure checks by Firestone Healthcare from 2 to 4 p.m., as well as voting by loose change for the young artist poster contest sponsored by Farmers National Bank.
A live nativity will be in the north parking lot beginning at 5 p.m.
Parking will be available at the Damascus Friends Church. Transportation will be provided to locations within Damascus.
For information visit Light Up Damascus on Facebook.
Related early bird events include the Damascus Post Office trivia contest Monday through Friday, Crazy Customs Detailing Toys for Tots collection now through Saturday, Barnes Insurance Agency blanket collection Monday through Friday and Damascus and Knox elementaries' canned goods collection Tuesday through Friday.