One of Turlock’s most beloved traditions is hitting the streets of downtown on Friday, as the annual Festival of Lights celebration looks to illuminate Main Street once more.
“I think it gets bigger every year,” said Molly Amant, executive director of the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association. “It’s exciting – it brings the community together.”
The holiday event and community Christmas tree lighting will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – along Main Street in downtown Turlock. This year’s festival will feature kid-friendly entertainment, like a bounce house and face painting, a Santa station, where children can write letters to the North Pole and take a picture with Father Christmas himself, and dance lessons in Central Park, courtesy of Alegria Ballroom Academy.
Spectators can take in a Christmas light show as well, and admire a sight new to this year’s celebration – a tree decoration display. Twelve local businesses, clubs and organizations took time to decorate Christmas trees for the event, which will be displayed along the center of Main Street and light up simultaneously with the community Christmas tree at 6 p.m.
“Community members would say that they missed the sense of everything downtown lighting up along with the tree,” said Amant. “We wanted to add an element of the festival that would light up at the same time, and then string them down Main Street so that, hopefully, community members move down the road, look at them and enter some of the shops that are open.”
Main Street will be blocked to traffic beginning at Lander Avenue and ending at Palm Street, giving attendees space to peruse the 25 to 35 vendors that will be selling crafts, food and sweets at the event. About 18,000 people attended the festival last year, and Amant is expecting around 20,000 visitors from both Turlock and the surrounding communities at this year’s celebration.
“This event provides such a sense of community, and the Christmas spirit is a huge deal, so being able to be in that environment and with everything being lit up is awesome,” said Amant. “The spirit we bring out for the Festival of Lights is one that people just like to be surrounded by.”