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The holiday season in York will officially kick off at 5 p.m. Friday amid fanfare throughout the downtown area.

As the highlight of Light Up York, the York City Christmas tree will be illuminated at 6:15 p.m. in Continental Square. The 30-foot blue spruce  was donated by Brent Hatterer, of York, in memory of his father and in honor of LifePath Christian Ministries, according to a news release.

“The ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ when the switch is flipped and the lights go on, that gives you chills,” said Mary Yeaple, a planner with York City Special Events.

Light Up York is “a wonderful celebration for the community to come together,” Yeaple said, and she is happy that the city can continue to host these types of family events, thanks to the charity of sponsors.

People who once went to see the tree lighting as kids are now bringing their own children to see the lights turn on, Yeaple said of the event’s family spirit.

Continental Square: The tree-lighting is just one of many activities scheduled to take place at the intersection of Market and George streets, Yeaple said.

One of Santa’s reindeer will pose for photos with merrymakers in the square from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and several of Light Up York’s sponsors will be doing giveaways, Yeaple said.

Toys for Tots will be set up in Continental Square to collect new, unwrapped toys, and the Salvation Army will be handing out hot chocolate throughout the night. Members of the York County Literacy Council also will be in the square, promoting the group’s #ZYXchallenge, according to the release.

York City’s 275th anniversary time capsule will be welded shut  Friday night and spend the next 25 years rotating to locations around the city, Yeaple said. The time capsule will be opened as part of the city’s 300th anniversary celebrations in 2041.

Liz Bell and Chris Tyler of WARM 103.3 will emcee proceedings at Continental Square, with entertainment provided by Weary Arts Group, members of the William Penn Senior High School music department and Greater York Dance.

The first 2,000 people in Continental Square on Friday evening will receive glow necklaces and be able to participate in an audience dance routine with Greater York Dance, Yeaple said.

Martin Library: Kids can find Santa Claus at Martin Library, 159 E. Market St., from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m., where they can make crafts and have free photos taken with the big guy, courtesy of Tyler Brown Photography.

Yeaple said she is proud that every child can go home with a free photo of themselves with Santa, as not every family can afford to take their kids to a professional photography studio to mark the holiday.

Central Market: On Cherry Lane, Mudhook Brewing Co. and Central Market House will be selling Christmas trees ready to load onto the car. Crafts and coloring also will  be available at Central Market, according to the release.

After a popular start last year, Mezzogiorno, inside Central Market, will host another “Dinner with the Elves” on Friday night, according to the release. The York County Gospel Choir will  perform at Central Market as part of the celebration.

Other events: The festivities are being held on First Friday, so many downtown shops and restaurants will remain open late, Yeaple said. A number of other events are being held in conjunction with the Light Up York event.

The First Moravian Church, 39 N. Duke St. has  additional times on Friday night for its Christmas Putz display, and Christ Lutheran Church, 29 S. George St. will hold an open house.

The Capitol Theatre, 50 N. George St., is hosting a free showing of 1964’s "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" at 7 p.m.

Light Up York also will  serve as the next College Town Takeover event, with students and representatives from York College, Penn State York and HACC’s York campus encouraged to join the downtown Christmas festivities, Yeaple said.

A full list of activities and event map can be found at yorkcity.org/LightUpYork.

Some streets will be closed from 4 to 9 p.m. for the event, including Market Street between Beaver and Duke streets; and George Street between King and Philadelphia streets.

Also, parking will be restricted beginning at 3 p.m.  Parking will be free in the city garages, and parking meters are free after 5 p.m.

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