Tree Lighting, Living Window Festival Kick Off Holidays

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COLUMBIA - The holiday season kicked off all across Columbia on Friday night. Shelter Insurance on Broadway held its 46th annual tree lighting ceremony. The West Junior High School band and chorus filled the air with sounds of the holidays while many sipped hot chocolate and listened to the music. Santa greeted everyone toward the end of the tree lighting ceremony.

Also on Friday, a tradition continued on as the Living Windows Festival hits Columbia. 

According to Executive Director of "The District," Carrie Gartner, the festival has been around for nearly twenty years. 

The event involves businesses downtown decorating the front windows downtown, some of which having people perform based on the theme of the decoration. 

Besides bringing joy to families around Columbia, the festival also does good for the local businesses downtown. 

Glik's is a new vintage clothing shop in the downtown strip that is participating in the decorations for its first time. 

Manager Johnna Durbin says that she expects business to rise greatly from the event, even thought she does not know how it will go. 

She feels that the Charlie Brown Christmas theme will draw in more people to notice the new shop. 

Maude Vintage has been participating in the festival for the past five years. 

Owner Sabrina Braden says that this event always brings people in and whether or not they want to buy anything at that second, they will at least be drawn in to the store.

Braden uses this event as the store's Christmas party and gives cookies and refreshments to those who wander in. 

The event lasts until 8pm on Friday.

While 19 stores participated in the "Living Windows," many other businesses just decorated for the event.