Annual tree-lighting celebration in Providence returns after virtual pandemic year


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The annual holiday tree lighting in downtown Providence was back in person Friday night after the pandemic caused the city to hold a virtual tree lighting in 2020.

The celebrations included musical performances and caroling as the crowd counted down to the lighting of the tree outside Providence City Hall.

The festivities then continued across the street, where the Brown University marching band played on the ice rink, kicking off a star-studded ice skating show hosted by Olympian Nancy Kerrigan.

“A thing like this where you have the Christmas music, and it’s fun, and people are just happy to be together again, you know, we’re getting to hear all the cheering no matter what they’re doing…It’s great. It’s a lot of fun,” said Kerrigan, who introduced the ice skaters that included both local talent and Olympians.

“When it’s cold like this it’s really hard to feel loose enough to do all the tricks that the skaters are doing out there but they’re doing it anyway,” she continued.

There were ice skating fans big and small and some watched their loved ones take the ice.

“I’m taking my granddaughter here for the first time. Her auntie is skating in it so we’re coming to see her,” said Cranston resident Lori Castelli.

Others planned a “staycation” around the event.

“We had to come here. We decided to spend a weekend in Providence,” said Lincoln resident Francine Jackson. “Just to get away and to spend time to see a Christmas Carol, Hamilton, watch the tree lighting over there … It’s a great time to be here.”

The lights in downtown Providence will be switched on every day at dusk and will remain on throughout the holiday season.

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