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WATCH NOW: Crown Point brings back annual tree lighting
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WATCH NOW: Crown Point brings back annual tree lighting

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CROWN POINT — After a dark 21 months, the light has returned to Crown Point in the form of about 9,000 brightly colored bulbs. 

Crown Point held its annual Christmas Tree and Tank Lighting ceremonies Friday evening after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the city to cancel the signature event last year.  

A bundled-up crowd gathered around the Historic Lake County Courthouse, huddling around cups of steaming hot chocolate, courtesy of Wittenberg Village, as the Crown Point High School Choir and the Harmony Handbells performed on the courthouse steps. Crown Point Mayor David Uran lit the two towering pines framing the courthouse steps as kids got photos with Buddy the Elf and Crown Point City Council members handed out candy canes. 

Crown Point holds is tree and tank lighting ceremonies

Members of the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans fire a gun salute Friday after the old Army tank and tree are lit at Main and Goldsborough streets in Crown Point during the annual Christmas Tree and Tank Lighting. 

The collaboration between local businesses and clubs is what makes the event possible Crown Point Entertainment Superintendent Diana Bosse said, adding that "it takes a village."

Uran, who has been to 14 tree and tank lightings, said it is always his favorite holiday event. 

Crown Point holds is tree and tank lighting ceremonies

Crown Point Mayor David Uran lights the Christmas trees in front of the Old Lake County Courthouse during the city's annual tree and tank lighting. Crown Point was not able to hold the annual event last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It really makes our square and our community come together, which they already do, it's just at a whole other level," Uran said, gesturing to the line of people waiting to snap a picture with the brightly lit trees. "I think you can see by the energy of the crowd behind us that they're excited for it as well." 

Uran then proceeded to the iconic Crown Point tank where, for the first time ever, around 1,500 lights were strung around the historic landmark. In past years the city has lit the tree next to the tank, but this year, after consulting with local veterans, it chose to light the tank as well. 

American Legion Post 20 was joined by Boy Scout Troops 45 and 48 at the tank as they led the Pledge of Allegiance and the presentation of colors. The yearly tradition honors both veterans and those who are actively serving, Uran said. 

Crown Point holds is tree and tank lighting ceremonies

Children pose for a picture after the old Army tank and tree are lit Friday at Main and Goldsborough Streets in Crown Point. This was the first year the tank was lit. 

"When we get to the holidays a lot of the men and women who serve can't come home," Uran said. "It's just another opportunity for us to put a beacon of light there, that Crown Point recognizes them each and every day."

Bosse, who has been organizing the lighting since 2010, said "last year it was hard to have a Christmas and a holiday alone." Crown Point did create some alternative programming during the pandemic including Zoom meetings with Santa and a Christmas parade where attendees watched from their cars. 

Crown Point holds is tree and tank lighting ceremonies

The Crown Point High School Choir performs at Friday's Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Old Lake County Courthouse.

The lighting is the "kickoff of the holiday season" in Crown Point, Bosse said. Santa and Mrs. Claus traded in their sleigh for a helicopter and will be flying into Pointe Plaza at 10 a.m. today before the Christmas parade steps off at 11 from Bulldog Park.

Bosse said the city retained one pandemic-inspired idea, putting the Clauses on a trolley and having them drive around visiting residents. The trolley tour takes place today as well. The Clauses also will be available for photos on the lower level of the historic courthouse on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. from today through Sunday, Dec. 19.

Crown Point holds is tree and tank lighting ceremonies

Hot chocolate is handed out to those who came to view the lighting of the Christmas trees Friday at the Old Lake County Courthouse.

Crown Point also will host the annual Tour of Lights, where residents decorate their homes and are featured on a map. The city's holiday celebrations will continue after Christmas with a Kids New Years Eve Party from 1-4 p.m. Dec. 31 at the St. Matthias Parish. 

Uran said all the city's holiday events are part of what makes Crown Point "the best place to live, work and play." 

"We're really a large family, everybody knows each other in Crown Point. We still have that small town feel," Uran said. "When you can't get together for things it really does create a void"